A unique 50 cent coin has been produced by the Royal Australian Mint to commemorate the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019).

9 April 2019

The Mint’s Product Development Officer, Matthew Frawley, said it was an honour to be involved in the creation of such a culturally significant coin.

I’ve worked on lots of important projects, but to be involved with something like this International Year of Indigenous Languages coin was very heart-warming for me,’ Matthew said.

The team from the Mint liaised with the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (AIATSIS) and community representatives on a concept that incorporated words from 14 different Indigenous languages.

‘What was particularly special was working with the communities and gaining insights into the cultural significance, complexities and nuances of different Indigenous languages. It was such a steep learning curve for me.’

Coin designer Aleksandra Stokic then incorporated the words into a striking design for the 50 cent piece.

‘It was not an easy coin to create,’ Matthew said. ‘The designer only has a 3cm surface area to work with and in this case she has tilted it because she wanted people to look at the coin differently.

‘There is also an empty space on one side of the coin to represent the languages that are sadly no longer spoken. It’s often difficult to instil poignancy in a coin but in this case that blank element has a very strong message.’

Of the estimated original 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia, only around 120 are still spoken. Of these, approximately 90 per cent are endangered.

IY2019 is an opportunity to improve the preservation and promotion of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

The IY2019 coin will be released into general circulation with uncirculated collector coins available from the Mint and Australia Post.

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