Ken Wyatt

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The Honourable
Ken Wyatt
Ken Wyatt cropped.jpg
Wyatt in 2014
Assistant Minister for Health / Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care
Assumed office
30 September 2015
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded by Fiona Nash
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hasluck
Assumed office
21 August 2010
Preceded by Sharryn Jackson
Personal details
Born Kenneth George Wyatt
(1952-08-04) 4 August 1952 (age 64)
Bunbury, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Anna-Maria Palermo
Children 2
Relatives Cedric Wyatt, Ben Wyatt (cousins)
Occupation Public servant
Profession Teacher

Kenneth George Wyatt AM, MP (born 4 August 1952) is a member of the Australian House of Representatives representing the electoral division of Hasluck in Western Australia for the Liberal Party of Australia.[1] Wyatt is the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care since September 2015. He is of Aboriginal Australian (Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi), Indian, English and Irish descent, and is the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives,[2][3] as well as the first indigenous federal minister (if Mal Brough is excluded).[4]

Early life[edit]

Ken Wyatt 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's heritage is Yamatji and Irish ancestry. His mother's family heritage is Wongi and Noongar ancestry.[5]


Prior to entering Parliament, Wyatt served as senior public servant in the fields of Aboriginal health and education.[5] He has held positions as Director of the WA Office of Aboriginal Health as well as a similar post with NSW Health.[6] He was also previously Director of Aboriginal Education with the WA Department of Education.[6]

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,[7] and became the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives (if one excludes David Kennedy who was Member for Bendigo from 1969 to 1972),[8] and the third elected to the Parliament (behind Neville Bonner and Aden Ridgeway, both Senators).[9] Mal Brough is of Aboriginal descent but does not identify himself as such.[citation needed]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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. He was not sworn in with other ministers on 21 September as he was overseas, with his ceremony taking place on 30 September.[4][12] On 18 February 2016, Wyatt's responsibilities were expanded to include aged care in addition to health following a rearrangement in the ministry.[13][14]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1996 Wyatt was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to Aboriginal health. He received the Centenary Medal in 2001.[15][16]


Wyatt's cousin, Cedric Wyatt, was a senior public servant. Cedric's son, Ben Wyatt, is Western Australia's current shadow treasurer for the Labor Party.


  1. ^ "Result in Hasluck could take weeks". Herald Sun. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Ker, Peter (23 August 2010). "Wyatt likes the odd but keeping his cards close in Hasluck". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  3. ^ "First Australian Aboriginal in House of Representatives". BBC. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Indigenous MP Ken Wyatt to be sworn in". Sky News. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b "Ken Wyatt – Snapshot". Ken Wyatt – Snapshot. Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Hasluck – 2010 Federal Election". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "Australia has come a long way: Wyatt". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Ker, Peter (29 August 2010). "Aboriginal MP 'disappointed' by slurs". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Vyver, James (30 September 2010). "Ken Wyatt's emotional debut in parliament". Australian Broadcasting Authority. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "Wyatt impresses with maiden speech". The West Australian. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  12. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, " Aged care: Health Minister Sussan Ley picks up extra portfolio", 30 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015
  13. ^ Massola, James (13 February 2016). "Cabinet reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull announces new frontbench as Mal Brough resigns". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Ministerial Swearing-in Ceremony". Events. Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "WYATT, Kenneth George – Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "WYATT, Kenneth George – Centenary Medal". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Sharryn Jackson
Member for Hasluck
Political offices
Preceded by
Fiona Nash
Assistant Minister for Health / Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care