COOLBELLUP reverend Sealin Garlett has been awarded an Order of Australia for his service to the Uniting Church of Australia.
“It is a privilege and really an honour,” he said.
Rev Garlett is a Noongar elder and has devoted a large part of his life to helping the church and the local community; but as a kid he didn’t have much time for religion.
“When I was a little boy, I was taken away from my mum and dad, I was taken away to what they call a receiving home then, and then I was placed into a mission,” he says.
“And in my younger years I began to isolate myself from the church.
“I was placed in foster care and at a young age I became a ward of the state.
“As a young boy, it’s really hard to put together the strength of a family when it’s been broken by an institution that should have absorbed the value of family.”
His introduction to Christianity took place when he was an older teenager.
“I met a young lady who I fell in love with, we celebrated 43 years of marriage on Tuesday [June 11]. We ended up having seven children, and it was her commitment to me and our family that introduced me to faith.”
He went on to become a prominent figure in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett says Rev Garlett “richly deserved” his order of Australia.
“In addition to his significant service to the Uniting Church, Sealin Garlett is a great friend to the Cockburn and wider community, highly respected and valued by all,” he says.
Mr Howlett said that over the years Rev Garlett had provided valuable advice to the city on Aboriginal issues, helped set up the Aboriginal Reference Group, and delivered ‘Welcome to Country’ addresses at citizenship ceremonies and other city events.
Rev Garlett retired from his ministry nearly three years ago, and his kidney problems have caused him to take a bit of a backseat these days.
“My illness has slowed me down a lot and I found that very difficult to deal with; I’ve always been a very busy person,” he said.
He is due for a kidney transplant in the upcoming months and is hopeful to get back into more community service after he’s recovered.
Other people in Chookland awarded an Order of Australia include East Fremantle’s Diane Lee Smith-Gander, who received the award for her services to business, women’s engagement in executive roles and gender equality.
Applecross’s Ronald Adams received his for service to the forest and wood products industry.
Mt Pleasant’s Lorraine Hammond got her Order of Australia for her service to higher education, and Noel Nannup got his for service to the Indigenous community of WA.
by SHREYA PILO