Indigenous artist creates dolls to connect kids to country


Preview of the unreleased Aboriginal inspired dolls. Photo credit: Sally Gamble

Hundreds of dolls have been created by Aboriginal artist Sally Gamble as part of care packages for remote WA kids living in foster care.

Operation Sunshine, the organisation behind the care packages, is a not-for-profit that aims to help children living in care across WA.

Mrs Atkinson said there are currently 154 packs waiting to be delivered bringing a total of 764 Sunshine Packs distributed since January.

Sunshine packs include toiletry items, personal hygiene, clothing and even colouring books for children.

The founder of Operation Sunshine Leah Atkinson came up with the idea to create the dolls, as a way for Aboriginal youth to connect to their culture and identity.

“Over 55 per cent of children in WA care are Aboriginal and, in some regions, they make up 100 per cent of the children in care,” Ms Atkinson said.

“We wanted to be able to give them something in their packs that would support that connection to culture and identity.”

Artist Sally Gamble hopes through the creation of these dolls young people are able to link their identity and a sense of belonging.

As a child, Ms Gamble experienced being separated from her family and culture, and she said it was those experiences that are the greatest motivations in creating the Aboriginal-inspired dolls.

“For some kids it’s a lifeline,” Ms Gamble says.

“For others it provides the strong foundations to form their identity.”

“Even if they separate from their families for periods of time, it’s important that they know those connections never leave them while they’re on this journey.”

Operation Sunshine is using donations from last year’s fundraisers to cover the cost of the dolls.

Due to COVID-19, fundraisers planned for this year have been cancelled, but Operation Sunshine is accepting donations from the public.

“We take donations of brand new items, as listed on our website and Facebook page or People can donate money through the form on our website:,” Ms Atkinson said.