Australia highlights its disappearing indigenous languages with its latest 50 cent silver coin


The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2019 the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. The programme has as its aim the raising of awareness of the dangers that indigenous languages face in this rapidly changing world. Many of them are under increasing pressure with the rapid proliferation of the internet and its reliance on a few major languages. Inherently linked to a peoples cultural history, their preservation is extremely important for future generations.

Australia has its fair share of ancient languages, and before colonisation, there were over 250 Aboriginal tongues in use, some dating back thousands of years – outside of Africa, the Australian Aboriginals have occupied the same territory continuously longer than any other people. So here, it’s an important issue and the Royal Australian Mint are issuing a silver 50-cent coin to mark the year.

A flowing vertical pattern in an Aboriginal style is interspersed with the word ‘coin’ in 14 indigenous languages. The design is as simple as that, but pretty effective. It’s a pity the denomination had to be on this face, but the 12-sided, 18.24 gram silver coin is still a fine statement of what it represents. The obverse carries the usual effigy of QEII, with the RAM sticking with the Ian Rank Broadley version this year before moving to the Jody Clark one in 2020. Boxed with a COA, the coin sells for $80.00 AUD and is available now. A base-metal variant is also available for just $10.00 in simpler packaging.

DENOMINATION $0.5 AUD (Australia)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 18.24 grams
BOX / COA Yes / Yes