Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Passing of Ruby Hunter

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, Minister for the Environment Heritage and the Arts

Today we mourn the passing of Ruby Hunter, a talented and inspirational Aboriginal singer and songwriter.

Her death overnight at her home at Killarney in south west Victoria, is a sad loss to all Australians as well as the music industry.

As a member of the Stolen Generations, Ruby was taken from her family at the age of eight and moved between a number of foster homes and institutions.

She met her life-long partner and soul mate Archie Roach at the age of 16 at a Salvation Army drop-in centre while they were both living on the streets. They went on to forge a remarkable partnership in life and music, always inspiring and supporting one another.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said Ruby Hunter was an exceptional artist with extraordinary spirit.

“In the face of adversity, she found her voice in music and through her songs spoke directly to so many of us about the loss suffered by the Stolen Generations,” Ms Macklin said.

“Her songs also reveal her enduring love for Archie, for her family, her Ngarrindjeri history and her peoples.”

Arts Minister Peter Garrett said Ruby Hunter was a great Ngarrindjeri woman – a great songwriter and performer – who played a leading role in Australian music.

“She provided extraordinary inspiration and consolation to many, many people around this country,” Mr Garrett said.

“Ruby will be greatly missed by her many friends, fans, and colleagues who span many cultures and generations.”

The Minister for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek paid tribute to Ruby’s achievements as an Aboriginal woman in the music industry.

“As the first Indigenous woman to be signed to a major record label, Ruby paved the way for future generations of Indigenous singers and songwriters.”

“She sang a lot about what it meant to be a proud woman, and a proud Ngarrindjeri woman at that.”

Our sincere condolences are extended to Archie – Ruby’s companion through life – as well as Ruby’s extended family and her community.