Roach was one of the thousands of Aboriginal children stolen from their parents by the Australian government in an attempt to assimilate them into white society (see Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children). He and all but one of his siblings were stolen, split up and fostered and adopted. Roach had two failed placements after his indoctrination in an orphanage and then was placed aged nine with the Cox family (Scottish immigrants), where he learned music and grew up happy, although he was told untruths about his origins (his foster parents had been lied to by the authorities).
When he was contacted by an older sister and learned the truth about his origins he went off the rails, and spent the next 14 years living rough on the streets and nearly killing himself with drink. During this time he traced some other members of his family, most of whom were dead or homeless. But he kept his music and was eventually "discovered" in 1988.
His music is largely devoted to the problems of Aboriginal adoptees and he has worked with Joan Armitrading, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. He has won several Australian record industry awards. His albums include Charcoal Lane and Jamu Dreaming.
He is a foster father for Aboriginal children.
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