This internet browser is outdated and does not support all features of this site. Please switch or upgrade to a different browser to display this site properly.

First Nations advocate and lawyer an inspiration to a generation

24/01/2023. By Carmelle Wilkinson.

Share this article:

Emma Garlett.

Growing up in Geraldton in a low socioeconomic suburb, Curtin Business and Law graduate Emma Garlett recalls a community rife with crime, drug use and violence.

Living in a neighbourhood populated with government housing, wasn’t a pleasant place to call home, with the 28-year-old Nyungar-Nyiyaparli-Yamatji woman witnessing first-hand the struggles and downfall of her people daily.

A young Emma Garlett

A young Emma growing up in Geraldton.

“From Elder abuse to deaths in custody, it became the norm seeing families fight and having children taken away from their homes because their parents weren’t able to care for them,’’ she said.

“Up until the age of about 12, that was my life. But I always knew I wanted a better lifestyle, for myself and for other First Nations people.”

Emma said watching family members lose their sense of importance and belonging as they fronted court for simple offences, became her motivation for change.

“They had no hope, and there was no hope for them. Back then there weren’t adequate services in place to provide the right care or trauma therapy and many would end up back in court. It was a sad cycle.”

“Many of the issues from our community stemmed from historical traumas – with many being part of the Stolen Generation. It was common for your mum, dad, or grandparents to have a traumatic past and this in turn affected us kids because they had attachment issues and didn’t know how to raise us.”

Curtin graduate Emma Garlett with her grandmother

Emma with her cousins and Grandmother.

Emma said a decision by her parents to send her to an elite boarding school in Perth changed the trajectory and purpose of her life.

“At first, I didn’t see the benefit in sending me miles away from home. I was only 12 years old at the time and I found it horrible, I remember crying a lot,’’ she said.

“I had friends at school whose parents had $10 million homes and I thought to myself ‘my family are so poor?’ I really struggled with the culture shock.

“But this change in lifestyle opened my eyes to what was possible if you worked hard and what opportunities there were with a good education.

“Before long I started to think that maybe I too could go to university one day and get a degree so I could help my people.”

Emma became the first in her family to graduate with a degree and the first Aboriginal person to graduate from both the Curtin Law School and the Curtin Business School with both a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce.

Emma Garlett at her Curtin Graduation

Emma at her graduation ceremony.

A proud advocate and ambassador for Indigenous culture and rights Emma is passionate about changing the narrative and fighting for social justice.

In her capacity as a lawyer, casual lecturer at Curtin where she teaches Administrative Law and columnist for The West Australian, Emma is on a mission to crush systemically racist laws and ensure First Nations people are involved in decisions that affect them.

One of the only Aboriginal people in the mainstream media, Emma uses her online platform and presence to educate others and bring them on a journey of reconciliation.

Her popular YouTube series Paint it Blak is an opportunity for Emma to add an Indigenous lens to current affairs and bridge the gap between First nations people.

Her online series Paint it Blak provides an Indigenous lens on topical events and issues.

“It’s not an easy place to be, but it’s an important place to be,’’ she said.

“Helping the next generation and educating and influencing others about Indigenous culture and ways of living is so important.”

In Emma’s latest newspaper column, she invites Western Australians to use the New Year as a time to reflect and reacquaint ourselves with Australian history.

“It’s the time of year we all start crash dieting, buy a gym membership, tell ourselves we will save money, make some big life changes or study that course that has been on our list. But is this really what we need to be doing?’’ she asks.

“It seems like every year we make the same resolutions, only to never really follow through with them.

“But this year it should be different.

“This year, I’d like one of your new year’s resolutions to educate yourself about our Indigenous peoples in Australia.

“At face value, this might seem like a huge task. But the easiest way to start is by reading books by Indigenous authors.”

As a child, Emma remembers the sheer joy she felt flicking through the pages of picture books in the school library at lunchtime – becoming engrossed in the tales and adventures was her favourite pastime.

“I’d like to see more children read Indigenous books from a young age and experience and celebrate Australia’s rich culture and history,’’ she said.

Emma said inspiring the next generation was an important step towards reconciliation.

Curtin graduate Emma Garlett at Curtin

Emma is on a mission to educate and influence the next generation about Indigenous culture.

“The reality is the way we previously operated is no longer acceptable today. We need to change,’’ she said.

“I know this is easier said than done, but we need to start somewhere.”

Emma is also encouraging young lawyers entering the profession to understand Australia’s legal history and educate themselves when dealing with Indigenous issues and clients.

“I know we still have a way to go, but it all starts with a little hope,’’ she said.

“It was that hope and belief that I had in myself that gave me the confidence to pursue a career in law.

“When I said I wanted to become a lawyer so many people laughed in my face and told me straight, that’s never going to happen.

“But that only made me work harder to prove them wrong.”

Emma said while she wasn’t surrounded by the most influential or positive role models growing up, she did have wonderful parents who showed her the importance of compassion and justice.

“Dad worked in these centres called sobering up clinics, where he would take heavily intoxicated people off the streets at night and find them a safe place to sleep,’’ she said.

“When he passed in 2018 it was such a difficult time for me, and if it weren’t for my incredible teachers and lecturers at Curtin, I could easily have lost my way and dropped out of uni.

“If you are struggling with your studies don’t give up, please ask for help. I know without the support I received from Curtin I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“You’d be surprised how many people are willing to support you on your education journey and watch you succeed.”

___

Read more stories like this one

Curtin WA School of Mines graduate Jade Singleton’s career journey has been far from boring. 🎓
 
From working with an international mining project team in South America to navigating cultural differences of a male-dominated mining industry in Russia was challenging.
 
But it’s these experiences that gave Jade the tools to lead the way in shifting cultures, breaking barriers, and creating greater diversity in the WA mining sector.
 
Jade shares how an interest in learning about different cultures sparked her passion for breaking diversity barriers in mining via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinGrad #WASM #WASchoolofMines #culturalchange #diversity #miningsector #mining #humanresources #careeradvice #career #change #engineering #femaleleaders #womeninmining #femaleleadership #innovation #education

Curtin WA School of Mines graduate Jade Singleton’s career journey has been far from boring. 🎓
 
From working with an international mining project team in South America to navigating cultural differences of a male-dominated mining industry in Russia was challenging.
 
But it’s these experiences that gave Jade the tools to lead the way in shifting cultures, breaking barriers, and creating greater diversity in the WA mining sector.
 
Jade shares how an interest in learning about different cultures sparked her passion for breaking diversity barriers in mining via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinGrad #WASM #WASchoolofMines #culturalchange #diversity #miningsector #mining #humanresources #careeradvice #career #change #engineering #femaleleaders #womeninmining #femaleleadership #innovation #education
...

🍓🥗 Lupin Strawberry Salad 🍓🥗
 
Want an easy and light summer meal that won’t break the bank or require you to crank up your steaming oven on a hot day?
 
Curtin graduate Noor Abdallah’s healthy Lupin Strawberry Salad will bring some much-needed colour to your summer entertaining or weeknight meal.
 
Ingredients:
2 Cups Rocket Leaves
1 Cup Lupin Flakes (hydrated)
1/2 Strawberries Cup
1/4 Avocado Cup
1 Tbsp Dill
1 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 
Dressing:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Lemon
 
*Amounts can be adjusted based on your personal preference.
 
Method:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before starting the food preparation.
2. Prepare ingredients by chopping rocket leaves, strawberries and avocado. If you are using dry lupin, hydrate flakes as per instructions on packet.
3. Mix ingredients listed in step 2 in a bowl.
4. Add dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
5. Finally, roast pine nuts in a pan with extra virgin olive oil.
6. Top salad with pine nuts and enjoy your salad.
 
Want to take this salad to the next level? Add some grilled chicken strips. 😋
 
Did you try it? Make sure to tag us to get featured on our Instagram stories.
 
If you’re a #CurtinGrad with a delicious recipe to share? DM us for a chance to get featured.📩
 
#CurtinGradCookOff #halloween #summertime #summersalad #vegetarian #healthyrecipes #healthysalad #summerfood #summerrecipes #perthfoodgram#perthtodo #perthisok #perthfoodie #lunchrecipes #nutrition #foodstagram #healthyfoodideas

🍓🥗 Lupin Strawberry Salad 🍓🥗
 
Want an easy and light summer meal that won’t break the bank or require you to crank up your steaming oven on a hot day?
 
Curtin graduate Noor Abdallah’s healthy Lupin Strawberry Salad will bring some much-needed colour to your summer entertaining or weeknight meal.
 
Ingredients:
2 Cups Rocket Leaves
1 Cup Lupin Flakes (hydrated)
1/2 Strawberries Cup
1/4 Avocado Cup
1 Tbsp Dill
1 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 
Dressing:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Lemon
 
*Amounts can be adjusted based on your personal preference.
 
Method:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before starting the food preparation.
2. Prepare ingredients by chopping rocket leaves, strawberries and avocado. If you are using dry lupin, hydrate flakes as per instructions on packet.
3. Mix ingredients listed in step 2 in a bowl.
4. Add dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
5. Finally, roast pine nuts in a pan with extra virgin olive oil.
6. Top salad with pine nuts and enjoy your salad.
 
Want to take this salad to the next level? Add some grilled chicken strips. 😋
 
Did you try it? Make sure to tag us to get featured on our Instagram stories.
 
If you’re a #CurtinGrad with a delicious recipe to share? DM us for a chance to get featured.📩
 
#CurtinGradCookOff #halloween #summertime #summersalad #vegetarian #healthyrecipes #healthysalad #summerfood #summerrecipes #perthfoodgram#perthtodo #perthisok #perthfoodie #lunchrecipes #nutrition #foodstagram #healthyfoodideas
...

When Curtin journalism student Dylan Storer returned home to Fitzroy Crossing for the Christmas holidays, things took an unexpected turn. 
 
Armed with just a mobile phone, Dylan found himself providing ground-breaking coverage of the devastating, record-breaking floods that ravaged his hometown at the start of the year.
 
Read more about how Dylan managed to produce some of the most important coverage to come out of the natural disaster in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinGrad #CurtinCommons #Journalism #Journalist #JournalismStudent #Regional #FitzroyCrossing #Kimberley #WesternAustralia #Perth #PerthisOk #Flooding #Community

When Curtin journalism student Dylan Storer returned home to Fitzroy Crossing for the Christmas holidays, things took an unexpected turn.
 
Armed with just a mobile phone, Dylan found himself providing ground-breaking coverage of the devastating, record-breaking floods that ravaged his hometown at the start of the year.
 
Read more about how Dylan managed to produce some of the most important coverage to come out of the natural disaster in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinGrad #CurtinCommons #Journalism #Journalist #JournalismStudent #Regional #FitzroyCrossing #Kimberley #WesternAustralia #Perth #PerthisOk #Flooding #Community
...

Watching family members lose their sense of importance and belonging as they fronted court for simple offences, became Curtin graduate and Nyungar-Nyiyparli-Yamatji woman Emma Garlett’s motivation for change.
 
Since becoming the first in her family to graduate with a degree, Emma is on a mission to crush systemically racist laws and ensure First Nations people are involved in decisions that affect them through her work as a lawyer, casual lecturer, and columnist.
 
“Helping the next generation and educating and influencing others about Indigenous culture and ways of living is so important.” 🖤❤️💛
 
Read more about Emma’s journey in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆🏽
 
#CurtinGrad #CurtinCommons #CurtinUniversity #FirstNations #Aboriginal #StolenGeneration #Reconciliation #Education #Law #Lawyer #Commerce #Sustainability

Watching family members lose their sense of importance and belonging as they fronted court for simple offences, became Curtin graduate and Nyungar-Nyiyparli-Yamatji woman Emma Garlett’s motivation for change.
 
Since becoming the first in her family to graduate with a degree, Emma is on a mission to crush systemically racist laws and ensure First Nations people are involved in decisions that affect them through her work as a lawyer, casual lecturer, and columnist.
 
“Helping the next generation and educating and influencing others about Indigenous culture and ways of living is so important.” 🖤❤️💛
 
Read more about Emma’s journey in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆🏽
 
#CurtinGrad #CurtinCommons #CurtinUniversity #FirstNations #Aboriginal #StolenGeneration #Reconciliation #Education #Law #Lawyer #Commerce #Sustainability
...

What does being a #CurtinGrad mean to you? 🎓💛 
 
Since graduating in 2022, Grace Anderson (M Human Rights 2022) has been grateful for her time at Curtin, which gave her the practical tools to pursue her passion for human rights. 

“I am so proud to say I went to Curtin working in the human rights sphere; the faculty members are so visible and active in advocacy and reform; I am so grateful.” 

As the world was emerging from #COVID19 lockdowns, Grace was able to complete her dissertation in her final semester while travelling the world. 

Her biggest goal this year is to launch her podcast with Amnesty International Australia, which will give a voice to people with lived experience of human rights abuses. 

“During my studies, I found that learning about an issue from someone who had experienced it was much more compelling. I am hoping this platform promotes a wider understanding of human rights issues that face Australians.” 

Want more inspiring graduate stories? Check out #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

 #CurtinGrad #CurtinUniversity #humanrights #graduate #graduatestories #memories #amnestyinternational #grateful #university #highereducation #alumni

What does being a #CurtinGrad mean to you? 🎓💛

Since graduating in 2022, Grace Anderson (M Human Rights 2022) has been grateful for her time at Curtin, which gave her the practical tools to pursue her passion for human rights.

“I am so proud to say I went to Curtin working in the human rights sphere; the faculty members are so visible and active in advocacy and reform; I am so grateful.”

As the world was emerging from #COVID19 lockdowns, Grace was able to complete her dissertation in her final semester while travelling the world.

Her biggest goal this year is to launch her podcast with Amnesty International Australia, which will give a voice to people with lived experience of human rights abuses.

“During my studies, I found that learning about an issue from someone who had experienced it was much more compelling. I am hoping this platform promotes a wider understanding of human rights issues that face Australians.”

Want more inspiring graduate stories? Check out #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

#CurtinGrad #CurtinUniversity #humanrights #graduate #graduatestories #memories #amnestyinternational #grateful #university #highereducation #alumni
...

What did you love the most about the Curtin campus? 🍃🎓
 
It may have been a while since you’ve strolled through one of our Curtin campuses, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your journey with us.
 
Did you know that being a #CurtinGrad means you get access to exclusive perks, career development opportunities and Library membership.
 
Want to keep your connection to Curtin alive in the new year? Update your details via link in bio for more. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinLife #campuslife #curtinperth #perthuni #perth #perthgram #highereducation #university #alumni

What did you love the most about the Curtin campus? 🍃🎓
 
It may have been a while since you’ve strolled through one of our Curtin campuses, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your journey with us.
 
Did you know that being a #CurtinGrad means you get access to exclusive perks, career development opportunities and Library membership.
 
Want to keep your connection to Curtin alive in the new year? Update your details via link in bio for more. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinLife #campuslife #curtinperth #perthuni #perth #perthgram #highereducation #university #alumni
...

Welcome back everyone, we are so ready for the year ahead! 💫
 
We hope you all had a wonderful festive season and relaxing break with your family and friends.
 
We look forward to sharing some very exciting stories with you all in the coming months, so stay tuned. 👀
 
Want to discover more about our community or keen to connect with other Curtin graduates or friends? Update your details with us to learn more via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinGrad #CurtinCommunity #WelcomeBack #NewYear #Community #Graduates #2023

Welcome back everyone, we are so ready for the year ahead! 💫
 
We hope you all had a wonderful festive season and relaxing break with your family and friends.
 
We look forward to sharing some very exciting stories with you all in the coming months, so stay tuned. 👀
 
Want to discover more about our community or keen to connect with other Curtin graduates or friends? Update your details with us to learn more via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinGrad #CurtinCommunity #WelcomeBack #NewYear #Community #Graduates #2023
...

As we wrap up for the year, we would like to thank all our alumni and friends who help us put our students first. 💫
 
It has been such a joy being a part of such a vibrant and lasting community committed to helping enable our students to become our future leaders and changemakers of the world.
 
At the end of the day, universities that prioritise students with the kindness of alumni and friends are long-lasting universities and thanks to your support, we are proud to be a university that does just that.
 
We wish you all an enjoyable and restful festive season and look forward to embracing the exciting year ahead! 💛🎄
 
#CurtinUniversity #gratitude #thankyou #highereducation #festiveseason #endoftheyear

As we wrap up for the year, we would like to thank all our alumni and friends who help us put our students first. 💫
 
It has been such a joy being a part of such a vibrant and lasting community committed to helping enable our students to become our future leaders and changemakers of the world.
 
At the end of the day, universities that prioritise students with the kindness of alumni and friends are long-lasting universities and thanks to your support, we are proud to be a university that does just that.
 
We wish you all an enjoyable and restful festive season and look forward to embracing the exciting year ahead! 💛🎄
 
#CurtinUniversity #gratitude #thankyou #highereducation #festiveseason #endoftheyear
...

Life hasn’t been easy for Aldan Clinch, spending most of his younger years in and out of prison.

Despite his struggles, Aldan Clinch always knew he was destined for something better.

During his last stint at Casuarina Prison, Aldan enrolled in the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC) prison program, run by the Curtin AHEAD team.

Through the program, ITEC tutor Narelle Guest helped guide Aldan and other Casuarina students to dream of a future that could be unlocked through education.

The hope Narelle was instilling in her students inspired her daughter, Eve to support the ITEC prison program. Now, both mother and daughter are working to minimise the barriers students from the ITEC prison program face while transitioning back into the community.

Through this support, Aldan completed the ITEC program and is now on the path to completing an Environmental Science degree at Curtin.

Thank you to our amazing Curtin community, when we come together, we can make a powerful impact! 💫

🖤❤️💛

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinCommunity #WesternAustralia #Aboriginal #TorresStraitIslander #Education #Leadership #HigherEducation #MakingADifference #CommunityMatters #Thankyou #WorkingTogether

Life hasn’t been easy for Aldan Clinch, spending most of his younger years in and out of prison.

Despite his struggles, Aldan Clinch always knew he was destined for something better.

During his last stint at Casuarina Prison, Aldan enrolled in the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC) prison program, run by the Curtin AHEAD team.

Through the program, ITEC tutor Narelle Guest helped guide Aldan and other Casuarina students to dream of a future that could be unlocked through education.

The hope Narelle was instilling in her students inspired her daughter, Eve to support the ITEC prison program. Now, both mother and daughter are working to minimise the barriers students from the ITEC prison program face while transitioning back into the community.

Through this support, Aldan completed the ITEC program and is now on the path to completing an Environmental Science degree at Curtin.

Thank you to our amazing Curtin community, when we come together, we can make a powerful impact! 💫

🖤❤️💛

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinCommunity #WesternAustralia #Aboriginal #TorresStraitIslander #Education #Leadership #HigherEducation #MakingADifference #CommunityMatters #Thankyou #WorkingTogether
...