World Coins

Royal Australian Mint has a love of language on 50¢

Australia has issued a new circulating commemorative 50-cent coin to honor the indigenous languages of the continent.

Images courtesy of the Royal Australian Mint.

Australia’s newest circulating commemorative 50-cent coin commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Launched in Adelaide, the coin was produced by the Royal Australian Mint and developed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 

The coin design incorporates 14 translations for “coin” from some of the many indigenous languages in Australia. The design was developed in consultation with 14 indigenous language groups from around Australia, including the traditional people of Adelaide, the Kaurna people.

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Languages are central to the identity of Indigenous Australians and the second National Indigenous Languages Survey conducted in 2014 by AIATSIS recognized that remaining connected to language strengthens well-being and self-esteem in communities of Indigenous Australians.

“Indigenous languages carry more meaning than the words themselves, so too does currency carry meaning beyond its monetary value. The release of these coins is another milestone in recognising the diverse cultures that shape our national story of over 60,000 years,” said AIATSIS CEO and co-chair of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages Steering Committee, Craig Ritchie. 

Some 120 Indigenous Australian languages are known to be spoken today, according to the most recent report of the Second National Indigenous Languages Survey published in 2014. This is in comparison to over 250 languages that were in known use in 1788 among Indigenous Australians.

The coin entered circulation on April 8. 

In addition, two collector versions are available. 

A Frosted Uncirculated base metal version is priced at $10 and a Proof .999 fine silver version costs $80, both available from the Royal Australian Mint’s website.

The Mint also conducted coin swaps in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane where the public can exchange cash or coins for the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages 50-cent coins. 

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