Andrews profound apology to Archie Roach ‘I am sorry. We are sorry’

Australia came together to pay tribute to Archie Roach’s legacy: A life lived with unparalleled compassion and creativity.

A somber, emotional and ultimately loving mood filled the air at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl yesterday as family, friends, and fellow musicians in the thousands gathered around Melbourne, and Australia to commemorate the life and work of the late great Archie Roach.

Premier Daniel Andrews issued a profound and deeply heartfelt apology on behalf of the government, to which Aunty Myrtle Roach, Archie Roach’s older sister, accepted with the words, 

 “[Archie] was a gift to me. I am proud of him. He chose to fight, to survive.”

archie roach tribute
Credit: The Age

Andrews atonement harks back to the infamous ‘Sorry’ of Kevin Rudd’s, 2008, apology to Indigenous peoples, for past treatment.

Holding the position of Victoria premier since 2014, Andrews stepped forward at the ceremony and presented the audience, and Roach’s family with an acknowledgment of regret that the apology did not come sooner  “The Victorian government apologises for the forced removal from your family, from your country, community, culture, and language and for depriving you of your birthright by actions perpetrated on you.

We apologise for the extreme, inhumane acts committed against you. The torture, the unspeakable hurts and the intergenerational trauma that you and your family continue to carry and experience due to your removal. I am sorry. We are sorry.“

archie roach tribute paul kelly
Paul Kelly and Briggs

Following the apology, Uncle Kutcha Edwards and Roach’s son Amos joined Nola Lauch and the Pertame School Choir to perform a tribute of the song Took the Children Away.

Aunty Joy Wandin delivered the welcome to country, saying: “(Archie) was everything to everyone … What do you say when he has given us so much?”

Inviting the family to take the stage for the welcoming smoking ceremony and to receive ceremonial ochre.

A silent tribute was followed by ceremonial dancing by the Koorie Youth Will Shake Spears, Djirri Djirri, Murundaya Yepenga, Bandok Tati and Yarrabah Dancers.