The Honorable Simone McGurk, Minister for Child Protection, Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services, shares her thoughts on Operation Sunshine WA and the impact Sunshine Packs can have for children in crisis.
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Each year thousands of children and young people are displaced from their homes and their families when entering out-of-home care or escaping family violence. Sunshine Packs provide these young people essential and comfort items to help ease their transition into their new living arrangements.
Women are often forced to escape family and domestic violence without preparation, and leaving everything behind. Courage Kits provide essential and comfort items to support these women at a time of extreme vulnerability and ensure they have the items needed to care for their personal needs.
"These packs are always appreciated by the children who receive them and are essential for those who come into care in an emergency situation. Providing each child with warm pyjamas, underwear, socks, toiletries, a cuddly soft toy and a book or two makes such a difference to children who don't have a lot to call their own and can offer some comfort under difficult circumstances."
District Director DCPF
"We had a two year old boy hugging the teddy so lovingly, passing it to staff members to hug and then hugging it again and not letting it go! He wore his PJ's all day!!"
Safe at home worker - Women's Refuge
"Watching children opening their Sunshine Packs is such a delight. Sometimes they can be a little bit shy, but once they see all of their goodies they tend to relax and be a bit more open to having a chat with their new Case Workers and their new families."
Senior Case Worker - Foster Agency
"We had two kids come into our care last Tuesday with nothing, but turned up with your amazing bags. The two year old carries her teddy everywhere, she loves it. Thanks so much!"
"The Sunshine Packs provide the children with a sense of belonging, especially if they have entered care with little to no belongings."
"It's the little things that make all the difference. He was so excited when he opened his Sunshine Pack and saw all of the amazing stuff that was inside. He spent hours afterward drawing in his colouring book, playing with slime and the other toys that were in there, even making sure that everything in his bag had its own place in his new bedroom. The second he saw his pj's with the spaceship he couldn't wait to put them on as his new bedroom is space themed with stars and planets. Thank you so much for everything you have done, definitely brought a little ray of sunshine into his day when he recieved his bag."
" An 8 year old girl loved the actual bag, and when she opened it she found it hard to contain herself with all the items inside, asking "is this all for me?!!!!""
Women's Refuge Child Developement Officer
"The children all loved their presents, and the general consensus from everyone (including staff) was that the presents were really special. Thank you for adding a little sunshine this Christmas to children's lives."
Senior Manager Child & Family - Foster Agency
"Thank you, Leah, for dropping off a pink and blue back pack full of things to delight our little visitors. New socks, undies, pj's, fluffy puppy and pussy cat, colouring book and pencils, story books, hair brush, toothbrush and paste. It was all very much appreciated."
"The magical smile on the face of the young recipient at a time of trauma or risk really brings home how vulnerable these youngsters are and how much this gesture from Operation Sunshine has a positive and engaging effect."
Brevet Senior Sergeant
"I had two little boys come late Tuesday night with nothing except a Sunshine back pack. I can't even explain how excited they were to open it and find some pj's, playdough, books and "a beautiful soft teddy" (his words). Thank you so much for everything you do."
"It's rough on a child coming into care, it's very distressing for all involved. Having something to call their own and something new just for them, I feel, is very important. We are very lucky to have Operation Sunshine WA supporting us and our children in care."
Senior Case Worker - Foster Agency
"Because we live in a small town we struggle to have things on hand.... These packs mean that we have the security knowing that in each bag it has absolutely everything a child will need... The toys, books, colouring in pencils, or a diary for the older kids are just crucial in being able to express themselves in what's often a traumatic time".
"We couldn't believe the amount of items in the little backpacks for the children. There were items in there that we hadn't even thought of, but were so significant in a child's immediate need and to feel like it wasn't borrowed - It was ALL theirs."
Women's Refuge Child Advocacy Worker
Friends of Operation Sunshine WA