SBS Living Black reporter Phil Tucak meets MP Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives.
By
Phil Tucak

UPDATED 2:09 PM - 23 Aug 2013

As Ken Wyatt - Australia's first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives - delivers his maiden speech in Federal Parliament today, he represents both his electorate and the hopes of Indigenous Australians.

A former senior bureaucrat in the health and education sectors, Ken Wyatt has entered Federal Parliament after a narrow win in the electorate of Hasluck in Perth's eastern suburbs.

Ken's mother Mona was one of the Stolen Generations. After being removed from her family, Mona was placed at Roelands Mission near Bunbury south of Perth, and it was there that she later met her future husband Don.

Ken was born at Roelands Mission farm, and last week was the first time in twenty-five years that he had been there. The former home for young Indigenous children removed from their families has now been taken over by the Indigenous Land Corporation, and the buildings are being restored and upgraded.

The return to Roelands Mission was nostalgic for Ken.

“Watching the kids, I imagined it being like my mothers time where the kids would have been having fun picking the fruit, but also the friendships and the closeness they would have had," he told SBS.

Ken says the removal of his mother from her family was very difficult.

“Her parents certainly didn't want them in the missions, but they did come and see them at events, and used to talk to them, so from their perspective they didn't grow up as kids together and it wasn't until later that they met up and came together as a total family," he said.

Ken's family heritage draws from several Indigenous groups.

“When you bring the mix of me together, with the Yamatji, Wongi and Nyoongar, because on my fathers side is the Yamatji, but if i'm true to my father's heritage he also has some Irish, but my great great grandfather married a Buddha who was at New Norcia so thats where the Yamatji comes from," he explains.

"On my mother's side is the fact that my great, great grandfather married a Goldfields woman, and then the combination of the Wongi family heritage and the marriage into Nyoongar gives us that rich diversity," he says.

As he settles into his new role in Federal Parliament, Ken's life journey continues and he hopes during his time in Parliament to be able to make a worthwhile contribution.

“Journey's what you make it, your destiny is what you decide, and if you can shape that destiny, its even better still," he says.

A story on Ken Wyatt's childhood at Roelands Mission will feature on Living Black this Sunday at 4:30pm on SBS ONE.

To view the story, visit the Living Black website.