It is with great sadness that the Uniting Church WA mourns the death of Rev Garlett AM.
Rev Garlett AM, a Ballardong Wadjuk man born in the Western Australian Wheatbelt town of Bruce Rock in 1957, enriched the lives of thousands of people during his service as a Uniting Church minister, both in the church and the wider community.
Rev Garlett AM was a Stolen Generations survivor and a founding member of both Bringing Them Home WA and the WA Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation to advocate for survivors and their families. At age six, Rev Garlett was taken from his parents by Native Welfare to live at Mogumber Methodist Mission, where he stayed for 12 years. During this time he rarely saw his parents; a situation that caused lasting pain.
Rev Garlett AM shared the leadership in the Nyungar Church in Pingelly in 1979. After studying in Darwin at Nungalinya College, he was ordained in 1991 at Coolbellup Uniting Church, now known as Maaman “O” Miya (House of the Lord).
In 1995, Rev Garlett AM became the Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) WA. He retired from active ministry in 2016.
During Rev Garlett’s AM 25 years with UAICC, he touched the lives of many through conducting weddings, baptisms, funerals, welcomes to country and congregational ministry and pastoral care. An exceptional element of his ministry was his use of Nyungar stories and traditions to help introduce many people to Jesus Christ.
As a family man, a grandfather and great grandfather, he was also instrumental in the establishment of the UAICC WA’s Beananging Kwuurt Institute, which provided Nyungar language learning, cultural education and parent and child support services.
Rev Garlett AM was passionate about strengthening the covenantal relationship between the UAICC and the Uniting Church in Australia – a journey of working together to bring about reconciliation and forgiveness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Australia. During his time with UAICC, he played significant roles in the establishment of the Covenant in 1994; the Uniting Church in Australia’s apology to the Stolen Generations; and the adoption of the new Preamble for the Uniting Church in Australia in 2009.
In the wider community, Rev Garlett AM is deeply respected. As a fluent speaker of Nyungar language, he was an advocate for reconciliation and protection of some of Perth’s most important and recognised spiritual and cultural heritage sites. He was also a past Chair of the Cockburn Aboriginal Reference Group, and he worked with other Nyungar Elders to negotiate with the WA Government on the Noongar Recognition Bill.
Earlier this year, Rev Garlett AM was recognised for his service to the Uniting Church, as he became a member of the Order of Australia.
“We deeply appreciate the ministry of Rev Garlett AM, and his outstanding contribution to reconciliation and the healing of our nation,” said Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA.
“Our prayers and sympathy are with his family at this difficult time.”
“We have lost one of our truly great leaders of Congress, of the Nyungar Community and of Aboriginal people across the country. He will be deeply missed but his legacy will remain with us all for many generations,” said Rev Robert Jetta, Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) WA.
“Our hearts are with the family and all who are grieving this sad loss.”
If people would like to donate to support the family of Rev Garlett AM, donations can be made to:
BSB: 036 001
Account: 921 834
Name: Uniting Church Synod WA
Image courtesy of Simon Stevens Photography.
Words and image used with permission.