NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NRW2017 @KenWyattMP honoured with portrait unveiled at Parliament House by PM

 

” But Ken, you are also the first Aboriginal Australian to be a member of an Australian government.

Again, that is long overdue. But it is one of the steps that our Government has taken, my Government has taken, to advance the voice of Aboriginal Australians, First Australians, in our Parliament, in our nation’s affairs.

You bring with it an extraordinary personal quality

Secondly we are commissioning two additional portraits.

Firstly, one of former Senator Nova Peris, who was the first Indigenous woman to serve in the Senate.

Also the Honourable Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to serve in the House of Representatives.”

PRIME MINISTER Malcolm Turnbull

 ” First Indigenous member of the House of representatives and first Indigenous minister

Ken Wyatt was born at the Roelands Mission Farm, near Bunbury in Western Australia (WA) and is the eldest of ten children

See full Bio Hon Ken Wyatt’ MP’s Below

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Indigenous MPs Pat Dodson, Linda Burney and Ken Wyatt. Photos: Alex Ellinghausen

PRIME MINISTER Malcolm Turnbull speech at unveiling

Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunnawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny bulan bugarabang.

We are on the lands of the Ngunnawal people and we acknowledge that and we acknowledge their elders past and present.

I want to thank Aunty Matilda for that characteristic Welcome to Country, and the presence of little Evie.

It says a lot you know – come here Ken, I’m going to give this old guy a hug and then we will be crying into our teacups – look, it says a lot about us Australians that we can celebrate such a wonderful, historic occasion as this.

Celebrate this unveiling of this portrait and do so with good humour, with love, with affection, with no rancour.

Aunty Matilda who, as she said, had an appointment she had to head off and with her red coat and her wit, she set us all on the right track.

So Ken, thank you so much for everything that you do. Mary, thank you for painting this portrait. Thank you for revealing what we all know, that Anna lights Ken up. You were there, you were there. Was he being a bit stiff and shy? Then Anna came closer and that spark, that got him going. Fantastic.

Ken, you have followed 39 years after Neville Bonner. I should say that Neville Bonner’s great-niece Jo Lindgren sends her love to you and to Anna and to everyone here today; another Aboriginal Australian who was a member of the Senate until recently.

But Ken was the first Aboriginal man to be elected to the House of Representatives and as Bill said, over 1000 Australians have been elected before him. Too many. But now he’s joined by Linda Burney, the first woman and, of course, following in Neville’s footsteps in the Senate we’ve had many others; Aden Ridgeway you mentioned, Nova Peris  – who of course is here and I will have more to say about her in a moment –  Jo Lindgren and of course now Malarndirri McCarthy, Pat Dodson and Jacqui Lambie.

But Ken, you are also the first Aboriginal Australian to be a member of an Australian government. Again, that is long overdue. But it is one of the steps that our Government has taken, my Government has taken, to advance the voice of Aboriginal Australians, First Australians, in our Parliament, in our nation’s affairs.

You bring with it an extraordinary personal quality. Ken has, the New Zealanders would call – it’s a Maori word, it’s almost untranslatable – they would call it ‘mana’. Ken has a presence, a life-force, a calm, an aura. I’m not getting new-age here Ken don’t worry. But you have got a presence and a calm and a wisdom that all of us are inspired by. Even our political opponents, as you can see.

So it is wonderful to be here with you; I want to thank you very much for your service. You have advanced that cause of reconciliation so much, simply by your advocacy, your presence, the love that you show. The way that you represent the people of Hasluck, the people of Australia that you represent too. You embody here, Buka and all, the oldest continuous human culture on our planet.

So I want, before we go to announce, to unveil the portrait, I want to make another announcement. That is, that we are commissioning two additional portraits.

Firstly, one of former Senator Nova Peris, who was the first Indigenous woman to serve in the Senate.

Also the Honourable Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to serve in the House of Representatives.

Ladies and gentlemen, they will join Ken and Neville Bonner. That demonstrates the continuity of that historical collection that the Presiding Officer spoke of.

So congratulations, Mary, on your painting. It’s a hard task portrait painting, capturing that mana. But you have done that and so Ken, I think it is up to us now to unveil you, if not to hang you.

That will be done by the Parliamentary staff of whom you have spoken so warmly, but I’ll hang you with affection.

The Hon Ken Wyatt Am MP

  1. Bunbury, western Australia

Noongar, Yamatji, wongi peoples

Member for Hasluck (2010-present)

Liberal Party of Australia

First Indigenous member of the House of representatives and first Indigenous minister

Ken Wyatt was born at the Roelands Mission Farm, near Bunbury in Western Australia (WA) and is the eldest of ten children. After moving to the remote town of Nannine, the family settled in Corrigin, 229 km south east of Perth, where he attended school.

Wyatt trained as a teacher and taught in primary schools between 1973 and 1986 before moving into the education policy sector. His extensive work in training and mentoring young people was recognised in 1996 when he was awarded the Order of Australia.

Between 1996 and 2010, he served the public in many capacities, including as Director of Aboriginal Education with the WA Department of Education, District Director for the Swan Education District, Director for Aboriginal Health with the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Health and, later, as Director for Aboriginal Health with WA Department of Health.

In 2010, Wyatt successfully stood for the Liberal Party in the WA seat of Hasluck, becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the House of Representatives.

For the opening of parliament on 28 September 2010, Aboriginal leaders held a traditional welcoming ceremony for Wyatt outside Parliament House and Noongar elders presented Wyatt with a ceremonial cloak made of kangaroo hide, a bookha, which he wore as he took the oath of office.

He gave his first speech in the House of representatives chamber on 28 September 2010 wearing the bookha and it is depicted in his official portrait for the Historic Memorials Collection.

In 2015, he became the first Indigenous member of the Federal Executive following his appointment as Assistant Minister for Health. On being appointed Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in 2016, he also became the first Indigenous minister to serve in the Australian federal parliament.

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