Australia’s $50 note gets a makeover

Nick Bendel

Nick Bendel

( 2 min read )

The Reserve Bank has today revealed the design of the new $50 banknote, which will be released into general circulation in October 2018.

As with the current banknote, the new $50 will show:

  • David Unaipon – an Aboriginal writer and inventor
  • Edith Cowan – the first female member of an Australian parliament

Existing $50 banknotes can continue to be used, as all previously issued banknotes remain legal tender.

The upgraded $50 banknote will feature several new security features (see video), including a top-to-bottom clear window containing dynamic elements such as a reversing number.

It will also contain a patch with a rolling-colour effect and microprint featuring excerpts from David Unaipon’s book and Edith Cowan’s maiden parliamentary speech.


The Reserve Bank said their stories will be told through a range of design elements:

  • Shields from Unaipon’s Ngarrindjeri nation
  • The practices of ‘miwi’ and navel cord exchange about which Unaipon wrote
  • Cowan’s gumnut brooch, which symbolised how parliament was a ‘hard nut to crack’ for women
  • The King Edward Memorial Hospital, a women’s and maternity hospital that Cowan helped establish

As with the $5 and $10 banknote, the new $50 banknote will include images of native flora and fauna:

  • A wattle plant, called acacia humifusa
  • A black swan, which was both Unaipon’s totem and the bird of Cowan’s home state of Western Australia

The Reserve Bank said it was working closely with banknote equipment manufacturers and retailers to help them prepare ATMs to handle the new banknote.

Governor Philip Lowe said the key elements of the new $50 banknote were improved security and ease of recognition.

“With the release of the $5 and $10 during the past two years, we are confident the Australian public are becoming familiar with the new banknote security features,” he said.

“David Unaipon and Edith Cowan were campaigners for social change and we are proud to continue featuring them on the $50 banknote. The new banknote provides the opportunity to tell more of the rich story behind these distinguished Australians.”

The Reserve Bank said it expected to upgrade the $20 banknote in 2019.


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