Ken Wyatt

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.

Kenny Wyatt

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
Bunbury, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Anna-Maria Palermo
RelativesCedric Wyatt, Ben Wyatt (cousins)
OccupationPublic servant

Early life

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,[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]


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 who was Member for Bendigo from 1969 to 1972),[5][6][7] and the third elected to the Parliament (behind Neville Bonner and Aden Ridgeway, both Senators).[8] Mal Brough is of Aboriginal descent but does not identify himself as such.

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11][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] 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.[15]

Wyatt retained his marginal seat at the 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.[16][17]

Awards and honours

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.[18][19]


Wyatt's cousin Cedric Wyatt was a senior public servant and unsuccessful Liberal candidate for federal parliament. Cedric's son Ben Wyatt is a Labor Party politician and the current state treasurer of Western Australia. Ben is also the state's Aboriginal Affairs Minister which makes Ken, the Indigenous Australians Minister, his federal portfolio counterpart.


  3. "Ken Wyatt – Snapshot". Ken Wyatt – Snapshot. Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  4. "Hasluck – 2010 Federal Election". ABC News. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  5. "Australia has come a long way: Wyatt". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  6. Ker, Peter (23 August 2010). "Wyatt likes the odd but keeping his cards close in Hasluck". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  7. "First Australian Aboriginal in House of Representatives". BBC. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  8. Ker, Peter (29 August 2010). "Aboriginal MP 'disappointed' by slurs". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  9. Vyver, James (30 September 2010). "Ken Wyatt's emotional debut in parliament". Australian Broadcasting Authority. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  10. "Wyatt impresses with maiden speech". The West Australian. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  11. "Indigenous MP Ken Wyatt to be sworn in". Sky News. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  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. "New federal ministers officially sworn in". Australia: Sky News. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  16. "Historic day for new indigenous minister". 9 News. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  17. Nunn, Gary; Mao, Frances (28 May 2019). "Ken Wyatt: Australia's first indigenous cabinet minister". BBC News. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  18. "WYATT, Kenneth George – Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  19. "WYATT, Kenneth George – Centenary Medal". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
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
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