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A shining example of collaboration

Every new coin produced by the Royal Australian Mint grabs attention, but one stands out for its particularly creative concept and strong focus on collaboration. This is the recently released circulating 50c coin which features words meaning ‘coin’ or ‘money’ in Australian Indigenous languages.

Produced through a collaboration between the Royal Australian Mint and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), the coin celebrates 2019 as the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Matthew Frawley from the Product Development team at the Mint says the coin acknowledges Australia’s unique Indigenous languages. And recognises efforts being undertaken to preserve these important parts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture.

“During the initial product development process, AIATSIS conducted a literature review and identified 30 unique Indigenous words for ‘coin’ or ‘money.’

“We then approached the language group custodians of these words. Of these, 14 groups agreed to participate in the project,” said Matthew.

Matthew coordinated the project from idea inception to manufacture.

“It’s been an honour to work with AIATSIS and Indigenous communities on the development of the Indigenous Languages coin. Paramount to the project was ensuring the coin design conveyed the complex, nuanced and expansive ways in which Australia’s first peoples comprehend and use their languages. It’s this culturally diverse interaction that makes our Indigenous languages such a precious cultural treasure,” he said. 

Matthew added the best part of this project was experiencing the sheer joy, pride and excitement of the Indigenous communities on seeing their words immortalised on a coin.

The Royal Australian Mint has a strong relationship with AIATSIS. They collaborated previously to produce a 50c coin that celebrated 50 years of AIATSIS in 2014, and another 50c coin in 2017 that marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision.