House debates

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Constituency Statements

Wyatt, Mr Cedric

9:32 am

Photo of Ken WyattKen Wyatt (Hasluck, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last Thursday, 25 September, Aboriginal elder, Indigenous leader, father, grandfather and my cousin, Cedric Wyatt, passed away. He will be missed by his wife, Janine, and both his children, Ben and Kate, and their respective families. He was immensely proud of his children and spoke with great pride of their achievements.

Cedric was born in 1940 at Moore River Native Settlement at Mogumber. He was removed from his mother soon after he was born and spent his early childhood at the Moore River Native Settlement. He attended school at Sister Kate's, Castledare orphanage, Clontarf Boys' Home and Aquinas College in Perth, which shaped his future and built his resolve for change. After serving in the RAAF he moved in 1963 to PNG, where he worked as a teacher, principal and public servant until coming back to Australia in 1976. Between 1976 and 1979 he was CEO of the Western Australian Aboriginal Legal Service, later serving as acting General Manager of the Aboriginal Development Commission. Cedric went on to have a long career in Aboriginal affairs in both state and Commonwealth government and with non-government organisations, where he played a key role in influencing the reforms that Indigenous Australians enjoy today. Amongst his other roles he was the shire president for the Shire of Cue, in Western Australia's Mid West region, for a period that involved the early 2000s. He was at one stage Governor of the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Cedric stood unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Kalgoorlie at the 1996 federal election. A senior Liberal recalled that Cedric did a valiant job as the Liberal candidate for Kalgoorlie in 1996. I recall shaking hands with him on the 1996 election night at East Vic Park and how cheerful he was despite his relatively low vote.

Cedric was the first Aboriginal candidate endorsed by the WA Liberal party. Cedric's son, Ben, paid tribute to his father and I will cite his words, which are reflected in a media article.

"Today we are remembering Dad's remarkable life of advocacy and achievements … He is from a generation of Aboriginal leaders who forged the path for so many, rising from his membership of the Stolen Generation to become a senior public figure.

"He would be chuffed to know how well his life is being celebrated by so many people across Australia."

Cedric, thanks for the times that we shared, the views we had and the advice you gave. I will miss our friendship. To me, you were a rough diamond who dared to be different while caring for others. You will be missed by the many who respected and admired you as a person, a leader and a mentor, and there are many stories I could tell about Cedric and the achievements that he made. He was one of our truly great warriors.