Roach has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his service to the performing arts and to Indigenous rights and reconciliation, officials announced on Jan. 26 – Australia National Day.
Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung senior elder, singer, prolific storyteller and First Nations champion, contributed some of this country’s finest work over a 30-plus year career spanning eight albums.
Few songs are as moving as Roach’s 1991 song “Took The Children Away,” a heartbreaking tale of the forced separation of First Nations children from their families.
The song received one international Human Rights Achievement Award, the first time the honor was bestowed on a songwriter.
Roach, or Uncle Arch as he was affectionately known, was celebrated on numerous occasions during his lifetime. He was appointed a Member of The Order of Australia (AM) (in 2015) and received the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music (in 2017).
The songwriter was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the publication of Charcoal track, his debut full-length album, which bore “Took The Children Away”. The song is now preserved in National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
All his life he dedicated himself to supporting others. In 2014 he founded Archie Roach Foundation as established to “nurture meaningful and potentially life-changing opportunities” for young First Nation artists.
When he died on 30 July 2022 after a long illness, aged 66, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led the tributes.
Although Roach has left us, his music continues to resonate. At the 2022 ARIA Awards, Roach posthumously won Best Independent Release for “One Song”, the last song he wrote.
“One Song” is one of 20 contenders for the coveted song of the year at the 2023 APRA Music Awards, set for April 27 at Sydney’s ICC.
See the full Australia Day Honors List here.