ACT News

Golliwogs removed from sale at Canberra hospital after online condemnation

Canberra Hospital has removed golliwog dolls from its kiosk, after its auxiliary came under fire for selling them on hospital grounds.

A spokesperson from ACT Health said no offence was intended, after a tweet drawing attention to the dolls sparked condemnation online this week.

Emma Woolley uploaded this photo to her Twitter account of golliwogs for sale in the Canberra Hospital auxiliary kiosk ...
Emma Woolley uploaded this photo to her Twitter account of golliwogs for sale in the Canberra Hospital auxiliary kiosk on Wednesday. Another display was also visible from the Canberra Hospital foyer. Photo: Emma Woolley

Emma Woolley said she spotted them while visiting the hospital for a routine antenatal visit on Wednesday.

"Welcome to the Canberra Hospital foyer!" she tweeted, with a photo of the display afterwards .

"How welcoming do you think this Canberra Hospital display is to your (sic) mom-white clients," she wrote and tagged ACT Health and Simon Corbell.

"Oh dear... talk about things that make people sicker!" senior indigenous researcher Sandy O'Sullivan wrote in response.


Golliwog dolls have been the subject of heated debate around the world for decades. 

While some Australians view the golliwog as nostalgic, as political attitudes have shifted, the doll has been criticised as a "dehumanising racist caricature" of black people. 

Mrs Woolley, who is non-Indigenous but works in health promotion, said she couldn't believe it when the saw them.

"Golliwogs are really best left in the past and have no place in a modern public hospital," she said.

"It undermines all of the fantastic work Aboriginal health workers do every day and increases the barriers Aboriginal people face in accessing mainstream health care."

A spokesperson from ACT Health said they only became aware the dolls were for sale on Wednesday.

"In response to the concerns raised by members of the community on the golliwogs, ACT Health have worked with the auxiliary to remove them from sale. The auxiliary did not mean to cause any offence by having the dolls available for sale," the spokesperson said.

"The auxilliary shop plays an important role at the Canberra Hospital, donating much appreciated funds to purchase medical equipment and items for the comfort of the patients, as well as assisting many staff members with scholarships, grants and funds to pay conference expenses.

"The auxilliary team are volunteers who generously give their time within this valuable service. Volunteers are the backbone of the community and the long-standing contribution the Auxiliary members make as a whole to the hospital, and the wider community, cannot be underestimated."

The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association has been contacted for comment.


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