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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ken Wyatt

Ken Wyatt cropped.jpg
Wyatt in 2014
Minister for Indigenous Australians
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byNigel Scullion
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care
In office
24 January 2017 – 29 May 2019
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byHimself as assistant minister
Succeeded byRichard Colbeck
Minister for Indigenous Health
In office
24 January 2017 – 29 May 2019
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byWarren Snowdon (2013)
Succeeded byAbolished
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care
In office
30 September 2015 – 24 January 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byFiona Nash
Succeeded byHimself
(as Minister for Aged Care)
David Gillespie
(as Assistant Minister for Health)
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hasluck
Assumed office
21 August 2010
Preceded bySharryn Jackson
Personal details
Kenneth George Wyatt

(1952-08-04) 4 August 1952 (age 69)
Bunbury, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Anna-Maria Palermo
RelativesCedric Wyatt, Ben Wyatt (cousins)
OccupationPublic servant

Kenneth George Wyatt AM (born 4 August 1952) is an Australian politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010, representing the Division of Hasluck for the Liberal Party. He is the first Indigenous Australian elected to the House of Representatives, the first to serve as a government minister, and the first appointed to cabinet. Wyatt was appointed Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in the Turnbull Government in January 2017, after previously serving as an assistant minister since September 2015. He was elevated to cabinet in May 2019 as Minister for Indigenous Australians in the Morrison Government.

Early life

Wyatt is an Indigenous Australian, also of English, Irish and Indian descent. He was born at Roelands Mission farm, near Bunbury south of Perth in Western Australia, a former home for young Indigenous children removed from their families. His mother, Mona Abdullah, was one of the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children removed from their parents and relocated to Roelands, where she met her husband Don. Wyatt's father has Yamatji and Irish ancestry. His mother has Wongi and Noongar ancestry,[1] while her surname, Abdullah, is from an ancestor who migrated from India to be a cameleer, helping lay the trans-Australia telegraph line.[2]


Prior to entering Parliament, Wyatt served as senior public servant in the fields of Aboriginal health and education.[1] He has held positions as Director of the WA Office of Aboriginal Health as well as a similar post with NSW Health.[3] He was also previously Director of Aboriginal Education with the WA Department of Education.[3]


2010–2015: backbencher

Wyatt stood for the Liberal Party in the seat of Hasluck in the 2010 election, defeating Labor incumbent Sharryn Jackson. He won the seat with a 1.4-point swing,[4] and became the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives (if one excludes David Kennedy[note 1] who was Member for Bendigo from 1969 to 1972),[5][6][7][8] and the third elected to the Parliament (behind Neville Bonner and Aden Ridgeway, both Senators).[9] Mal Brough's family have a longstanding belief that they are of Aboriginal descent through one ancestor,[10] but, at least in part due to uncertainty around this heritage, Brough does not identify himself as such.[11] Brough does not appear at all in the Parliament's records of Indigenous members.[5]

On 28 September 2010, Wyatt attended the opening of the 43rd Australian Parliament to take up his seat as member for Hasluck. He wore a traditional Booka – a kangaroo skin coat with feathers from a red-tailed black cockatoo, signifying a leadership role in Noongar culture. The cloak had been presented to him by Noongar elders.[12] He made his maiden speech to the Parliament on 29 September and received a standing ovation from both the government and opposition benches as well as from the public galleries.[13]

2015–2019: frontbencher

On 20 September 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Wyatt would become Assistant Minister for Health, making him the first Indigenous frontbencher in federal parliament. Although his term commenced on 21 September, he was not sworn in with the other ministers as he was overseas, with his ceremony taking place on 30 September.[14][15] On 18 February 2016, Wyatt's responsibilities were expanded to include aged care in addition to health following a rearrangement in the ministry;[16][17] and were expanded further when on 24 January 2017 Wyatt was the first indigenous Australian appointed as an Australian Government Minister, with responsibility for the portfolio of Aged Care and the newly established portfolio of Indigenous Health.[18]

2019–present: Minister for Indigenous Australians

Wyatt retained his marginal seat at the May 2019 federal election with an increased majority. After the election, he was appointed Minister for Indigenous Australians in the Second Morrison Ministry. He is the first Indigenous person to hold the position, and was also elevated to cabinet.[19][20]

In July 2019, he gave an address to the National Press Club, in which he spoke of the theme of NAIDOC Week 2019: "Voice. Treaty. Truth.". He said that he would "develop and bring forward a consensus option for constitutional recognition to be put to a referendum during the current parliamentary term". He spoke of the development of a local, regional and national voice, and said "with respect to [Indigenous] Treaty, it's important that states and territory jurisdictions take the lead. When you consider the constitution, they are better placed to undertake that work", and with regard to truth-telling, he would "work on approaches to work on how we progress towards truth-telling".[21][22][23]

Indigenous voice to government

On 30 October 2019, Wyatt announced the commencement of a "co-design process" aimed at providing an "Indigenous voice to government". The Senior Advisory Group (SAG) is co-chaired by Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and Professor Dr Marcia Langton, Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne, and comprises a total of 20 leaders and experts from across the country.[24] The models for the Voice are being developed in two stages:[25]

  1. First, two groups, one local and regional and the other a national group, will create models aimed at improving local and regional decision-making, and identifying how best federal government can record Indigenous peoples' views and ideas. The groups consist mainly of Indigenous members.
  2. Consultations will be held with Indigenous leaders, communities and stakeholders to refine the models developed in the first stage.

The first meeting of the group was held in Canberra on 13 November 2019.[26]

Awards and honours

In 1996 Wyatt was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to Aboriginal health.[27] He received the Centenary Medal in 2001.[28]


Wyatt's cousin Cedric Wyatt was a senior public servant and unsuccessful Liberal candidate for federal parliament. Cedric's son Ben Wyatt is a former Labor politician who served as the Treasurer of Western Australia from 2017 until March 2021. Ben was also Western Australia's Aboriginal Affairs Minister which at the time made Ken, as Indigenous Australians Minister, his federal portfolio counterpart.


  1. ^ David Kennedy was the first Indigenous individual to be elected to both a state parliament and the Federal Parliament, having served as the ALP Member for Bendigo (1969–1972) prior to entering the Victorian Parliament in 1982 (MLA, ALP). However, his Indigenous heritage was not known when he entered both parliaments nor did he self-identify as Indigenous at that time. For these reasons Neville Bonner is recorded as the first Indigenous federal parliamentarian. From: Gobbet (2017).


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Hills, Ben. "The barefoot kid from the bush". SBS.
  3. ^ a b "Ken Wyatt – Snapshot". Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Hasluck – 2010 Federal Election". ABC News. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  5. ^ a b Gobbett, Hannah; Parliamentary Library (11 July 2017). "Indigenous parliamentarians, federal and state: a quick guide". Partliament House, Canberra: Commonwealth Parliament. Retrieved 27 February 2021. Source: P Biongiourno, ‘Outgoing ALP National President discusses the ALP and the ALP conference’, Meet the Press, transcript, 30 July 2000, accessed 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Australia has come a long way: Wyatt". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  7. ^ Ker, Peter (23 August 2010). "Wyatt likes the odd but keeping his cards close in Hasluck". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. ^ "First Australian Aboriginal in House of Representatives". BBC. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  9. ^ Ker, Peter (29 August 2010). "Aboriginal MP 'disappointed' by slurs". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  10. ^ Bryant, Nick (1 September 2013). "Mal Brough crashes through". The Monthly. Retrieved 26 February 2021. His maternal grandmother, Violet, believes that her missing father was a blackfella, a piece of family lore that has been handed down the generations.
  11. ^ "Don't know for sure, no real way of ascertaining it" - Brough in Crabb, Annabel (30 June 2007). "In the eye of the storm". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. ^ Vyver, James (30 September 2010). "Ken Wyatt's emotional debut in parliament". Australian Broadcasting Authority. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Wyatt impresses with maiden speech". The West Australian. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  14. ^ "Indigenous MP Ken Wyatt to be sworn in". Sky News. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  15. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, " Aged care: Health Minister Sussan Ley picks up extra portfolio", 30 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015
  16. ^ Massola, James (13 February 2016). "Cabinet reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull announces new frontbench as Mal Brough resigns". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Ministerial Swearing-in Ceremony". Events. Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  18. ^ "New federal ministers officially sworn in". Australia: Sky News. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Historic day for new indigenous minister". 9 News. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  20. ^ Nunn, Gary; Mao, Frances (28 May 2019). "Ken Wyatt: Australia's first indigenous cabinet minister". BBC News. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  21. ^ Wyatt, Ken. "National Press Club Address - 'Walking in Partnership to Effect Change'". Ministers Media Centre. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  22. ^ Conifer, Dan (9 July 2019). "Indigenous constitutional recognition to be put to referendum in next three years, Minister promises". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  23. ^ Wyatt, Ken (10 July 2019). "Ken Wyatt speech: Indigenous Australians Minister's historic pledge for recognition". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  24. ^ "A voice for Indigenous Australians". Ministers Media Centre. 30 October 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  25. ^ Grattan, Michelle (29 October 2019). "Proposed Indigenous 'voice' will be to government rather than to parliament". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  26. ^ Wellington, Shahni (13 November 2019). "First meeting held by senior body for Indigenous Voice to government". NITV. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  27. ^ "WYATT, Kenneth George – Order of Australia". Australian Honours. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  28. ^ "WYATT, Kenneth George – Centenary Medal". Australian Honours. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). Retrieved 22 August 2010.

External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Sharryn Jackson
Member for Hasluck
Political offices
Preceded by
Nigel Scullion
Minister for Indigenous Australians
Preceded by
Sussan Ley
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care
Succeeded by
Richard Colbeck
New title Minister for Indigenous Health
Preceded by
Fiona Nash
Assistant Minister for Health / 
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

Succeeded by
as Minister for Aged Care
Succeeded by
David Gillespie
as Assistant Minister for Health
This page was last edited on 12 September 2021, at 03:10
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