New Issue: Australia’s next generation $50 banknote coming this fall

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) recently unveiled the design of its forthcoming $50 banknote, which will be released into general circulation in October 2018.

As with the existing banknote, the new $50 note will feature portraits of Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon and the first female member of an Australian parliament, Edith Cowan.

“Improved security and ease of recognition underpin the design of the new $50 banknote,” said bank governor Philip Lowe. “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.”

These features include a top-to-bottom clear window that contains dynamic features such as a reversing number. There is also a patch with a rolling-colour effect and microprint featuring excerpts from Unaipon’s book 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,” added Lowe. “The new banknote provides the opportunity to tell more of the rich story behind these distinguished Australians.”

The banknote depicts the first female member of an Australian parliament Edith Cowan (shown above) and Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon.


The stories of Unaipon and Cowan are told through a number of design elements, including shields from Unaipon’s Ngarrindjeri nation and the practices of miwi and navel cord exchange, about which Unaipon wrote.

The note also includes a picture of the gumnut brooch Cowan made to symbolize entry into Parliament was a “hard nut to crack” for women, and the King Edward Memorial Hospital, a women’s and maternity hospital she helped establish.

As with the $5 and $10 note, the new $50 note includes representations of a wattle and a native bird—Acacia humifusa and a Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)—as well as Unaipon’s ngaitji, or totem, and the bird of Cowan’s home state of Western Australia.

According to a statement issued by the RBA, the bank is working closely with banknote equipment manufacturers and retailers to help them prepare ATMs and other banknote authenticating machines to handle the new banknote. 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.

It is expected the $20 banknote will be upgraded next year.

Full details of the design and security features on the new $50 banknote, and other denominations, are available on the bank’s website at

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