Grieving family call for vigil

Alana Garlett’s sisters are calling for a vigil outside Parliament to raise awareness of her death. Photo by Kelly Warden

THE family of Alana Garlett are calling for a vigil at Parliament House to raise awareness of her death, and the 56 other homeless people who died on Perth’s streets last year.

Her eldest sister Michelle Garlett said Alana will be remembered for the way she used to dance in the streets to Ed Sheeran’s romantic ballad Thinking Out Loud and for her signature whistling. 

“[But] we shouldn’t have to have her as a memory, we should have her alive and in housing, with her children around her,” she said.

Alana Garlett’s funeral was held in Armadale on Friday July 23, following her nine-year battle with homelessness. 

“Now she’s got a place to call her home,” her grieving mother, Norma Garlett, said. 

At present, Norma Garlett and her husband, Alan, are in a Homeswest house in Armadale, where at least six of their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren live with them at any one time. 

Mr Garlett suffers dementia, but Michelle says he starts crying at mention of Alana’s death; he’s clearly not forgotten. After suffering generations of homelessness, poverty, and overcrowded housing, the family have now been left with unanswered questions about the cause of Alana Garlett’s death.

Michelle Garlett said the family was told Alana died of cardiac arrest, but officially, the death certificate says her cause of death is subject to a coronial investigation. 

“We feel like we’ve been kept in the dark, but at the end of the tunnel there should be a light,” she said. 

The Garlett family are reiterating the demands of First Nations housing advocates, who are calling for a bigger commitment from government to build more housing, before more Aboriginal mothers die on the streets.

“Unconscious behind a church, that’s how they found her,” Michelle Garlett said. 

“It’s so sad how the government is treating people. 

“They slip through your fingers because there’s no housing”.

by KELLY WARDEN

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