Gina captures hopes and dreams in historic Possum Skin Cloak
As Program Coordinator of the Aboriginal Health Unit at the Women’s, Gina Bundle’s days are spent supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families as they navigate care and services at our hospital and also other hospitals in Melbourne’s Biomedical Precinct.
When she’s not yarning with women and families, attending appointments, facilitating services, and promoting culturally safe care and practices, Gina can likely be found with a paintbrush, sewing needle or sculpting tool in hand.
The proud Yuin-Monaro woman, with family connection to other clan groups, is an artist and a renowned cloak maker. Her latest creation – the Treaty Possum Skin Cloak – has just been unveiled at Melbourne Museum.
The cloak is a mosaic of 72 possum pelts, inscribed with art, messages and sentiments collected from 288 Aboriginal people during the Treaty Roadshow across Victoria in 2018.
“We used the Roadshow as an opportunity to create something that we can leave behind for the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria – something that represented the hopes and the dreams of our people on this journey to Treaty,” said Jill Gallagher AO, Treaty Advancement Commissioner, at the cloak’s unveiling.
“The cloak is an expression that our cultures are alive. Our culture is strong, and it continues to grow in a contemporary society.”
Aboriginal Treaty Working Group Co-Chair Eleanor Bourke said she hoped the cloak would become a significant icon for all Victorians.
“This cloak not only contributes to the Aboriginal Victorian story, but also to the Australian story,” she said.
“Treaty is intended to protect the rights of all Aboriginal peoples into the future. We intend that it make Victoria a better and culturally richer place to be. There is great symbolism within the Possum Skin Cloak – look at what we can achieve when coming together; it is a beautiful outcome.”
Gina thanked the Women’s in her speech for “allowing me to go on this amazing journey”.
“I spent four wonderful weeks travelling around Victoria listening to the stories, (and) encouraging people to put their images and stories on the Possum Skin Cloak. And it grew into something quite amazing,” she said.
“There’s a lot of people that made this cloak. I’m very proud that they allowed me to colour, ochre, sew, burn and put it all together. I hope that I’ve done everybody proud, because it was my intention to do the best job that I could.”
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings MLC, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Peter Walsh, and Reconciliation Victoria CEO Diana David were among those at the unveiling.
The first meeting of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will take place on December 10 and 11. The Possum Skin Cloak is on display at Melbourne Museum’s Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre until February 2020.
Interviewees in video below: Jill Gallagher AO, Treaty Advancement Commissioner; Gina Bundle, maker of the cloak; Eleanor Bourke, Aboriginal Treaty Working Group Co-Chair.