Archie Roach AM’s deeply personal song, ‘Took the Children Away’, from his 1990 debut album, Charcoal Lane, was the first song ever to receive a prestigious Australian Human Rights Award. Its impact was immediate, shining a stark light on Australia’s shameful past practices of removing children from their families. The song also speaks of love and reconnection and has travelled across seas into the hearts of First Nations communities everywhere.
One dark day, when Archie was just two years old, big black government cars came to his home at Framlingham Aboriginal Mission in southwest Victoria. They forcibly took Archie away from his mother, father and family – everything he had ever known. They took away thousands of other Aboriginal children, right around Australia. Powerful people had decided that these children would be better off living and learning all the white man’s ways. Frightened and alone, they grew up in institutions and foster homes. They became known as the Stolen Generations.
Ruby Hunter was one of those children, too, only eight when she was taken from the loving arms of her grandmother living on the Coorong in South Australia.
Archie and Ruby met and fell in love as homeless teenagers and Archie started writing songs to help ease his pain. Archie’s songs, loved by fans worldwide, tell a powerful story of survival and renewal, and the healing power of music.
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