Friday, 14 June 2019

It’s an honour

Rev. Sealin Garlett was awarded membership into the Order of Australia Rev. Sealin Garlett was awarded membership into the Order of Australia

A number of Uniting Church members have been awarded for their outstanding achievements and contributions beyond expectation in the annual Queens Birthday Honours List.

The recipients span a range of fields from Indigenous leadership, to work for justice, community volunteering and financial stewardship.  

Five people were specifically recognised for their service to the Uniting Church.

Rev. Sealin GARLETT AM, WA

Rev. Sealin Garlett is a respected elder of the Noongar community and a passionate advocate for the covenantal relationship between the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and the Uniting Church in Australia.

When he was young, Sealin was taken from his parents and put on a mission. Later in life, he became a Christian and was ordained in 1991 to serve at Coolbellup Uniting Church, now Maaman ‘O’ Miya Uniting Church.

Led by God’s grace and healing, Sealin became an advocate for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He has served with UAICC in WA and nationally, including as National Chair in the 2000s.  

He is known for speaking out on issues such as justice reinvestment, mandatory sentencing, the stolen generations, the closure of remote communities, protecting wetlands and other sacred sites, plus many more.

Sealin’s daughter Cheryl Lawson said of his award on Facebook: “Growing up and travelling around this beautiful country with you I could see the love and respect you received everywhere you went, the long hours you worked, the distance you would travel to see Family. The sacrifices you made to help others is immeasurable.”

You can hear Sealin’s story in an interview on ABC Radio.

Dr Keith Douglas SUTER AM, NSW

Media commentator, author and global affairs expert, Dr Keith Suter was awarded for significant service to international relations and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Keith is Foreign Affairs Editor for Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show and is regularly sought after for comment on business and global issues.

At Wesley Mission, he’s been a lay preacher for over 40 years, Honorary Secretary in Sydney since 2012, Chair of Wesley Congregational Life Council and a Consultant on Social Policy for 17 years.

Other roles include President of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (1991-1998) at the University of Sydney, Chairperson of the International Commission of Jurists (NSW), and Managing Director of the Global Directions think tank.

Keith said humbly of his award, “I never expected to receive this honour. It is one of the highlights of my long involvement with the Uniting Church. I have been there since the beginning.” Keith helped arrange the inaugural procession of the Uniting Church in 1977.

Rev. Barbara BAILEY OAM, QLD 

Awarded for her service to the Uniting Church, Rev. Barbara Bailey was a member of the Queensland Synod Standing Committee for 21 years and the first female Presbytery Chairman for North Queensland from 1996 to 2004.

Humbled by the award, Barbara reported in her local newspaper, she was happy to "accept it on behalf of the church" and the many others who contribute. In 2001, she received the Centenary Medal for her service during the North Queensland floods.


John Etherington was awarded for his service to the community and to the Uniting Church.

John is a former chair of UCA Funds Management (now U Ethical) having served for the maximum term of 10 years on the ethical investor’s board.

He was also part of the Synod Audit Committee and Finance Committee, all of which, he said was a "labour of love."

John said receiving the honour will “take time to process” but it was a privilege to be privy to some of the “hidden, less-heralded” work of the Uniting Church.


Rev. Ann Wansbrough has been recognised for her service to the justice work of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Ann was a member of the UnitingJustice Australia Reference Committee from 1985 to 2007 and Senior Policy Analyst for the Board of Social Responsibility in the NSW/ACT Synod (now Uniting NSW/ACT) from 1984-2007. She is a past Chair of the NSW Ecumenical Council’s Social Justice Commission.

She’s also been a board member of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and Leader of the Sydney Peace and Justice Coalition (2003-2010).

Other Uniting Church members to be awarded for their community service include:



Awarded for service to decorative food arts. Kathleen is a member of Parkes Uniting Church Welcome Congregation.


For significant service to the community, particularly to former law enforcement officers.

Professor Rosemary JOHNSTON AM, NSW 

For significant service to higher education, and to children's literature. Rosemary is a member of Pittwater UCA, a former member of the NSW/ACT Uniting Education and Mission’s Advisory Committee. 


For service to music, and to the community of the Southern Highlands. Kerith is a member of the Bowral congregation. 


For service to the law, and to the community.


For service to education, and to the community of Manningham.


For service to local government, and to the community of Banyule.


For service to the community of Gawler.

Dr Robert Stevenson (Steven) NISBET OAM, QLD

For service to the community through music, and to education.

Valda Knott OAM, WA

Awarded for her service to the community of Trayning, Valda has been involved in almost everything in town, including as community minister in four Churches. Listen to her interview on Triple M.

Jennifer Teasdale AM, SA

Jennifer was recognised for service to education and international relations. A teacher at all levels of education, Jennifer spent many years consulting and advising for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), including much time spent travelling overseas. Read more in the Islander newspaper.

 Elizabeth Mckay OAM, VIC

Awarded for service to the community of Camberwell, Elizabeth is a member of Camberwell Uniting Church and its Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Group. She co-Founder and President of the Oxfam Canterbury Group.

Eleanor Pollard OAM, VIC

Awarded for service to the community of Wycheproof, Eleanor has been a member of Wycheproof Uniting Church since 1961 and served as Parish Secretary and Presbytery representative. She has also volunteered and provided leadership with Wycheproof Community Resource Centre, Probus, Scouts and as President and Councillor of her local Shire.

Rodney Benness OAM, WA

Rodney was awarded for service to the community, particularly through social welfare initiatives. He is Deputy Chair of Trinity North Uniting Church and served as Chair of Good Samaritan Industries for nine years, as well as Rotary Club President and other community roles.

To let us know of other Uniting Church members to receive Queen’s Birthday Honours, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.