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Aboriginal Australian musician, Ruby Hunter (1955-2010), was in foster care and children’s homes as a child.

A member of the Stolen Generations and a proud Ngarrindjeri woman, Ruby was born in the Coorong region of South Australia. She and her four siblings were forcibly taken from their family when Ruby was eight years old under the pretext of being taken to see a circus.

For the next eight years, Ruby moved between children’s homes and foster care. She was separated from her siblings only a few months after being stolen.

 They come there and we were put in a black car and then taken down to a place called Seaforth Children’s Home Four months go pass and still no word from back home But the next day, woke up, and my sisters and my brothers have gone. (Roach & Hunter). 

Next, Ruby was placed with a white foster family. But she was sent to Vaughan House, a reformatory for female state wards after an argument with her foster brother.

I had an argument with my foster brother over dishes. The next day I was moved out. See, being the ward of the state, they have the authority to move you around whenever they choose to. Even when you go through adolescent times, you know. So I was transferred straightaway (Roach & Hunter). 

Released from state control when she was sixteen, Ruby was a homeless teenager when she met Archie Roach in Salvation Army lodgings in Pirie Street, Adelaide.

The tiny, extroverted Ngarrindjeri teenager was also searching for her identity after being stolen at the age of eight from her grandparents’ home in south-eastern South Australia’s Coorong region (Dow).

The couple teamed up and Ruby encouraged Archie to begin transmuting his pain into songs.

Ruby and Archie moved to Victoria when their two sons, Amos and Eban were young. Ruby worked at the Margaret Tucker Hostel which provided supported accommodation for Aboriginal women and girls. She also worked on behalf of a rehabilitation service for Aboriginal women,  the Winja Ulupna Women’s Recovery Centre.

Then, Ruby and Archie cared for as many as fourteen children at a time in a family group in Thornbury. They later opened up their own home to young people in need.

In 1994 Ruby Hunter became the first Aboriginal Australian woman to record with a major label. She went on to win numerous awards and performed on stages across the world.

Ruby and Archie continued to support Aboriginal young people by touring remote Indigenous communities to hosting songwriting workshops in schools.

Ruby Hunter performed with Archie Roach in Melbourne’s Federation Square for the 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generation given by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.


Vaughan House (1947 – 1979), Find and Connect.

Dow, Steve. “Archie Roach on meeting, loving and losing Ruby Hunter: ‘She had this glint in her eye’.” The Guardian, 16 February 2022. 

Roach, Archie, & Hunter, Ruby. 12 May 2008. Talking heads, with Peter Thomson, Australian Broadcasting Association.

State Government of Victoria, First Peoples – State Relations. “Ruby Hunter. A powerful voice for the vulnerable.” 

Image available here.