Ken Wyatt

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Ken Wyatt

Ken Wyatt cropped.jpg
Minister for Aged Care
Assumed office
24 January 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded bySussan Ley
Minister for Indigenous Health
Assumed office
24 January 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byPosition established
Assistant Minister for Health / 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 66)
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 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 has served as the Minister for Aged Care and Australia's first Minister for Indigenous Health since January 2017.[2] He previously served as the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care between September 2015 and January 2017. He is of Aboriginal Australian (Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi), Indian, English and Irish descent, and in 2010 became the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives[3][4] as well as the first indigenous federal minister in 2017.[5]

Early life[edit]

Wyatt is an Indigenous Australian, also of part 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's heritage is Yamatji and Irish ancestry. His mother's family heritage is Wongi and Noongar ancestry,[6] while her surname, Abdullah, is from an ancestor who migrated from India to be a cameleer, helping lay the trans-Australia telegraph line.[7]


Prior to entering Parliament, Wyatt served as senior public servant in the fields of Aboriginal health and education.[6] He has held positions as Director of the WA Office of Aboriginal Health as well as a similar post with NSW Health.[8] He was also previously Director of Aboriginal Education with the WA Department of Education.[8]

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,[9] 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),[10] and the third elected to the Parliament (behind Neville Bonner and Aden Ridgeway, both Senators).[11] 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.[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]

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.[5][14] On 18 February 2016, Wyatt's responsibilities were expanded to include aged care in addition to health following a rearrangement in the ministry;[15][16] 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.[2]

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.[17][18]


Wyatt's cousin, Cedric Wyatt, was a senior public servant. Cedric's son, Ben Wyatt, is Western Australia's current Treasurer for the WA Labor Government.


  1. ^ "Result in Hasluck could take weeks". Herald Sun. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b "New federal ministers officially sworn in". Australia: Sky News. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  3. ^ Ker, Peter (23 August 2010). "Wyatt likes the odd but keeping his cards close in Hasluck". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. ^ "First Australian Aboriginal in House of Representatives". BBC. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Indigenous MP Ken Wyatt to be sworn in". Sky News. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Ken Wyatt – Snapshot". Ken Wyatt – Snapshot. Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Hasluck – 2010 Federal Election". ABC News. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Australia has come a long way: Wyatt". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  11. ^ Ker, Peter (29 August 2010). "Aboriginal MP 'disappointed' by slurs". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  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. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, " Aged care: Health Minister Sussan Ley picks up extra portfolio", 30 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015
  15. ^ Massola, James (13 February 2016). "Cabinet reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull announces new frontbench as Mal Brough resigns". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Ministerial Swearing-in Ceremony". Events. Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  17. ^ "WYATT, Kenneth George – Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  18. ^ "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
Sussan Ley
Minister for Aged Care
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