Terry Roberts Story – (David Bowie-Let’s Dance)

Let’s Dance – The Terry Roberts Story


Taken From Ausrep.com By Greg S /posted December 2003

You can count the international Aboriginal icons on one hand I suspect, names like Albert Namatjira, Lionel Rose, Kathy Freeman, and Ernie Dingo………. I can’t think of too many more except Terry Roberts, Terry who? You ask.

Terry Roberts was the up and coming Aboriginal dancer that danced on David Bowie’s title track video ‘Let’s Dance’, many of you will remember the song and the video that highlighted the plight of Aboriginal Australian’s, the butchering of their culture by white Australia over 2-century’s is well documented. Sadly Terry has become a victim of the abuse David Bowie was trying to address.

I lived next door to Terry Roberts in a Government-run welfare ‘ghetto’ in Canberra called Burnie Court Lyons, these residences were so neglected by the ACT Government they had to be pulled down and I have not seen Terry now for some 3 years.

Terry told me the following story 4 years ago now and only this week I was watching MTV when they played the video clip ‘Let’s Dance’, there is absolutely no doubt the dancer in the video was Terry.

David Bowie was so taken by Terry he took him to the USA in the middle of the 1980’s so he could pursue his native dancing in America and help promote the Aboriginal culture offshore. This was a great chance for Terry and his people. But it all went suddenly and tragically wrong.

Soon after arriving in America it was reported to me that Terry attended a Rock-n-Roll after gig party in California where his drink was spiked with some exotic form of LSD which placed him in a coma and when he awoke his mind had gone.

Terry was sent back to Australia where he found himself in Canberra and was made a public trustee and all his affairs are now managed but those psychotic lunatics that call themselves ACT Mental Health.

When I met Terry he had not washed in weeks and was living in a cockroach-infested and disease-ridden bedsitter and had no contact with anybody except Howard Lanfranchi, Keith Smith, and a nonpracticing fraud named Dr. Gupta, these public servants are the Mental Health Team, and they are in absolutely no doubt about my opinion of them.

Terry is now unable to look after himself and the neglect and negligence of both the Offices of the ACT Public Trust and Mental Health place Terry’s life in danger every day, what Terry needs is permanent full-time care.

I attempted to help as much as I could in helping him clean and cook and involve him in social activity and Terry responded instantly to this kindness.

But all Mental Health services are capable of is stuffing large amounts of drugs down people’s throats and jailing them in their public hospital when they need to fill a couple of beds and get the Medicare wheel rolling over their life, and that is what Mental Health services are really about abusing the Medicare system to fund their services and pay their salaries.

ACT Mental Health has no duty of care over their patients and simply could not care less, we believe this form of thought-mongering is more dangerous to citizens on welfare than the Police whose welfare abuse is well documented.

In 8 years of conflict with my Government, I live in more fear from my Hospital than my Police Force.

I have no idea what happened to Terry Roberts, perhaps the ACT Government services killed him through neglect, or perhaps the cockroaches took sympathy on him and he moved in with them, but there is every chance he lives in squall-er whilst the Public Trustee retains his welfare payment.

But be in no doubt Terry Roberts is a national icon and his dancing was recognized on the highest level once. It is my hope the Dept of Aboriginal Affairs or ATSIC may look into this and treat him with the dignity he deserves as one of the only internationally recognized Aboriginal symbols that have ever existed.

Ultimately I guess the treatment of Terry Roberts by his own country only reflects the indifference and negligence shown to native Australia over so many years, but if you are part of a minority in Australia you are indeed in great peril at the hands of your Government, for his is a country where opinion and comment are either drugged, jailed or simply ignored.

I believe it is incumbent on Aboriginal Australia to find Terry and give him the help he deserves and he is actually a really nice fella. Terry is a Murri Aboriginal.

Regardless of anybody’s opinion Terry Robert’s is a neglected, endangered national treasure.

Terry Roberts Story


30 comments to “Terry Roberts Story – (David Bowie-Let’s Dance)”
  1. Hi: I too would like to know more about this sad story. I always wondered why we never saw or heard about Terry again. I really thought he would be a breakout star for the Aboriginal people. Truly make me sad that it has taken David Bowies passing for the world to be aware of Terry again.

  2. Did you ever catch up with Greg? I read somewhere Terry had passed. Shame. Back then it was easy for them to get lost in the system.

  3. Been reported that Greg passed away and had his funeral in Queensland Australia on the 15th of July 2016.

    The rest of Terry’s Story remains with Greg

  4. It truly saddens me to think this beautiful soul was destroyed by the evil act he was given in the states, and to think our own government &country would treat any human talented or not & so innocent the way they did is bloody criminal
    Let the spirits care for you now

  5. It’s a great musical treat but the video made the song, not vice versa, and Terry Roberts made the video. What a terrible ending. I’m sorry I tried to find out what other work he might have gone on to do, only to read about his tragic ending.

  6. I have wondered for 35 years who the male dancer in Let’s Dance was, as it has always been one of my favorites from early MTV. I saw the video again today and searched the web to find that his name is or was Terry Roberts and his tragic life. I guess that the video was his 15 minutes of fame, and the rest is a shame. He and Joelene left a mark and memory in my life, all the commenters here, and many more. Rest in peace.

  7. Sad to read that Terry passed away. Joeline stated in an arrival that it changed her life for the better, so at least one good thing.

  8. Does anyone know when exactly Terry passed away?

    I met him several times in late 2016. I was on a University placement with a mental health agency at the time and Terry was a client of their’s that we regularly visited in his flat in Redfern.

    Terry was highly delusional, however had spoken with other workers about being in the Bowie video

    Thanks for sharing his story, very tragic end to a promising career

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