THE Reserve Bank has unveiled Australia's new $50 banknote featuring portraits of Aboriginal author David Unaipon and Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament.

The new note, which follows the release of updated $5 and $10 notes, will enter circulation this October. It is expected the $20 note will be updated this year.

"Improved security and ease of recognition underpin the design of the new $50 banknote," RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement on Thursday.

"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."

The RBA said it was working closely with banknote equipment manufacturers and retailers to help them prepare ATMs and other machines to handle the new note, after teething issues with previous rollouts saw the new designs rejected at supermarkets, vending machines, pokies and TAB betting terminals.

"This has included a number of trials and the early distribution of test notes to allow manufacturers and owners of these machines to update their equipment," the RBA said.

"The design is being released today to facilitate this ongoing work with the industry as well as staff training to ensure a smooth transition when the banknotes are released later this year."

The signature side featuring David Unaipon.
The signature side featuring David Unaipon.

The security elements include a top-to-bottom clear window with dynamic features such as a reversing number and flying bird, as well as a patch with a rolling colour effect and microprint featuring excerpts from Unaipon's book Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines and Cowan's maiden parliamentary speech.

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

The serial number side featuring Edith Cowan.
The serial number side featuring Edith Cowan.

The design elements include shields from Unaipon's Ngarrindjeri nation and the practices of miwi and navel cord exchange. It also includes a picture of the gumnut brooch Cowan had made to symbolise that entry into Parliament was a "hard nut to crack" for women, and a picture of the King Edward Memorial Hospital that she helped establish.

Each note in the new series features a different wattle and native bird, in this case the Acacia humifusa - Unaipon's ngaitji, or totem - and a black swan, the bird of Cowan's home state of Western Australia. The new banknote series also has a "tactile" feature to help the vision-impaired community.

frank.chung@news.com.au



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