MP Ken Wyatt has become the first Indigenous Australian to serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians, after officially being tapped for the role during Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s Cabinet reshuffle.
His appointment comes after the Member for Hasluck in Western Australia became the very first Indigenous Australian selected for any federal frontbench role.
He takes over after the retirement of Nigel Scullion.
Wyatt, who is a Noongar man with Yamatji and Wongi heritage, took to Twitter to express his appreciation and optimism regarding the role.
“Incredibly honoured to be the first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians, committed to working & walking together with our Elders, families & communities to ensure the greatness of our many nations is reflected in the greatness of our Australian nation, now and forever,” the 66-year-old said.
Speaking to ABC Radio, Jackie Huggins of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples said “he is one of us, he knows where we come from, he knows our history, identity, and culture. And he’s had lived experience like the rest of us.”
His appointment has been celebrated by former parliamentarians, including former Labor senator Nova Peris and ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Congratulations Ken ????????❤️✊????
— Nova Peris OAM OLY MAICD (@NovaPeris) May 26, 2019
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) May 26, 2019
His selection for the role – which came on National Sorry Day, the day before National Reconciliation Week – comes amid a renewed push for the government to adopt the proposals set out by the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Uluru Statement, which was comprised after exhaustive discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the continent, laid out a proposal for a constitutionally-recognised Indigenous voice to the Australian parliament.
That proposal was shot down by Turnbull’s government, but Wyatt has previously backed the Uluru Statement.
Joel Carrett / AAP Image