This past year we lost two of the great First Nations voices of our time with the passing of Uncle Jack Charles and Uncle Archie Roach. Sharing a common history of forcible removal from their families, they went on to become two of the most important and powerful storytellers of stage, screen and song. Join a special line-up of guests for a celebration of their lives, their advocacy and the legacy of their art. Tony Birch, Emma Donovan, Rulla Kelly Mansell, and Rachael Maza appear with session curator Rhoda Roberts.

Tony Birch (Australian)

Tony Birch

Tony Birch, a proud Fitzroy Blak, holds the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at Melbourne University. He is the author of three novels, five short fiction collections, and two poetry books. In 2022 his most recent book, Dark As Last Night was awarded the Christina Stead Literary Prize and the Steele Rudd Literary Award. The book was also shortlisted for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction. In 2023 he will release a new novel, Women and Children.

Emma Donovan (Australian)

Emma Donovan

Highly celebrated, ARIA-nominated, award-winning Indigenous singer and songwriter Emma Donovan has been touring the country for over 20 years, performing soulful songs and sharing powerful stories with audiences around the globe. Emma is now best known for her work with greatly admired Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks and the extraordinary Black Arm Band project. Emma has toured and recorded with the best in the Australian music scene including Paul Kelly, The Teskey Brothers, Yothu Yindi, Kee’ahn, The Meltdown, Paul Grabowsky, Jen Cloher, Spinifex Gum and the late Uncle Archie Roach and Aunty Ruby Hunter.

Rulla Kelly Mansell (Australian)

Rulla Kelly Mansell

One half of MARLON x RULLA, the dynamic duo who won best Aboriginal & Torre-Strait Islander act of SA on 2022 after knocking out 60+ shows around the country. Rulla has a unique story of his own. A cancer survivor Rulla is a TV presenter with the ABC, charity founder(Make Runs Maxi), young Australian of the year finalist(2020) along with being the 2020 Tasmanian Aboriginal of the year. A Tulampanga Kooparoona niara man from northern Lutruwita(Tasmania), his family are Moonbird people from the Furneaux Islands with his Mother and Grandparents born and raised on Flinders Islander. Rulla grew up working as an Animal Keeper specifically with native Tasmanian animals at Trowunna Wildlife sanctuary, a privately operated business ran by Rulla’s father.

Rachael Maza (Australian)

Rachael Maza

Rachael Maza AM, is a Yidinji, Meriam woman and the current Artistic Director of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company. She directed Uncle Jack Charles V The Crown (2010) and Black Ties (2020), and in that year she received an order of Australia for significant service to the performing arts as an Artistic Director. A musician, singer and songwriter, she worked with Uncle Archie Roach on the Black Arm band. Her father, the late Bob Maza, co-founded Nindethana Theatre with Jack Charles in 1971. Rachael currently sits on the board of Force Majeure and on ACMI Indigenous Advisory Group. 

Rhoda Roberts (Australian)

Rhoda Roberts

Rhoda a member of the Widjabul /Wia-bal is an experienced, motivated and versatile arts executive, with a diverse range of international and national industry practice within commercial, community and non-profit organisations, festivals and events. The former Head of First Nations Programming at Sydney Opera House, Rhoda is currently the Curator of Parrtjima Festival, Alice Springs; Festival Director of Boomerang Dreaming Festiva; the First Nations Creative Director for the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA); First Nations Consultant NIDA; and The Elder in Residence at SBS TV.