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Noel Tovey was born in Melbourne the son of an Aboriginal–New Zealand mother and a father of Scottish–African descent. Tovey’s early years were entrenched in poverty abuse and neglect. Against all odds and despite these hardships he forged a successful theatre career in Australia and the UK. Tovey taught at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and he co-founded the London Theatre for Children. He returned to Australia in 1990. Tovey was the artistic director of the Indigenous Welcoming Ceremony at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. In 2014 he was awarded the Uncle Bob Maza Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to Victorian Indigenous theatre. In 2015 he received an Order of Australia.