In the presence of colleagues, community and politicians, Victorian Treaty Commissioner Jill Gallagher has unveiled a possum skin cloak and two kangaroo skins that carry stories of the Victorian treaty journey to date.
The cloak consists of 72 individual pelts, carrying messages from community delivered during more than 30 individual community consultations carried out by the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission prior to elections for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
“We wanted to create something that would reflect our aspirations for our community; and something that was culturally visible and alive,” the Commissioner said.
“The cloak embodies our hope for treaty; and our people touched the cloak from many Aboriginal nations across Victoria… [it is] an expression that our cultures are alive, our culture is strong, and it continues to grow in contemporary society.”
A public challenge for bipartisanship
Speaking also at the event was Gavin Jennings, Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
Acknowledging the presence of Victorian Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Peter Walsh, Mr. Jennings said: “I’m very pleased that Peter’s here representing the Opposition, because as we travel around, many members of the community say: ‘What’s the chance of this [treaty] getting bipartisan support?’.
“And if Peter’s attendance here today is a demonstration of the commitment of the Coalition to walk that journey with us all, then that’s a mighty thing.”
In paying tribute to the work undertaken by those in the Victorian Treaty Commission, Treaty Working Group and many others, Mr. Jennings said: “It [treaty] is a dream that hopefully when we wake up, it’s a dream that will come true and fill us with pride, hope and optimism.”
Just prior to the unveiling, Ms. Bundle – the artist responsible for the cloak – provided an important insight into the cloak and skins.
“This cloak embodies the story of people all across Victoria,” she said. “Even the people that weren’t quite happy with what was going on [with treaty]. They’re on that cloak.
“The kangaroo skins are actually quite amazing because… councils and community members from across Victoria are on those skins. And for treaty to succeed we need non-Aboriginal people to walk with us.”
The cloak and kangaroo skins are on display at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum until February 2020, at which time it is expected that they will find a new home with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.