SWAN View Senior High School students were visited by Hasluck MHR Ken Wyatt on National Closing the Gap Day, an annual event to raise awareness of the poorer health and life expectancy outcomes experienced by many indigenous people.
Mr Wyatt, who became the nation’s first indigenous Cabinet minister in January, recalled the moment he was offered his role as Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care.
“I was fast asleep on a plane on my way to the US when I was woken by a flight attendant with a message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offering me a place in his Cabinet,” he said.
“The flight attendant said she needed an answer right away and of course I said yes.”
Mr Wyatt told the group of 60 students that education was vitally important for their future success.
“My parents couldn’t afford for me to do my leaving years, so I was very fortunate the CWA, Rotary and a local businessman funded me to attend Swanleigh,” he said.
“Education will open doors for you and stand you as an equal.
“You have an incredible opportunity to become leaders and I would love see an indigenous prime minister one day.”
Principal Melesha Sands said it was nine years since national targets were set to Close the Gap in health and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Ms Sands said education was a key part in the solution.
“I am very proud that the school is a success story in improving outcomes for Aboriginal students,” she said.
“Through our Follow the Dream, Partnerships for Success program we are supporting Aboriginal students with high aspirations as they commence their secondary education.
“We currently have a record number of Aboriginal students in our Achieving Curriculum Excellence (ACE) program and our Aboriginal student attendance is significantly higher than the statewide public school average and like schools.”