Coins keep indigenous languages alive

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Kaurna man, Jack Buckskin, centre, at the launch.

THE International Year of Indigenous Languages has been commemorated with Australia’s newest circulating 50 cent coin.

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

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

Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid said he hoped the coins would serve as a tangible reminder of the important efforts being undertaken to preserve, protect and revitalise indigenous languages in Australia.

The coins were unveiled by Craig Ritchie, the AIATSIS CEO and co-chair of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages Steering Committee, Prof Troy MacDiarmid, the director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the University of Sydney, and Kaurna man, Jack Buckskin.

International Year of Indigenous Languages circulating coins.

“Indigenous languages carry more meaning than the words themselves, so too does currency carry meaning beyond its monetary value,” Mr Ritchie said.

“The release of these coins is another milestone in recognising the diverse cultures that shape our national story of over 60,000 years.”

Only 120 Australian indigenous 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 more than 250 Indigenous Australian languages that were in known use in 1788.

The Mint is also holding 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 circulated coin, uncirculated coins and silver proof coins.

The coin is now in general circulation but a frosted uncirculated version and a silver proof version are available by visiting or phoning 1300 652 020.



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