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New stamps and coins honouring milestones in Australian history released


Indigenous person holding a large yellow envelope with ‘Yes’ stamp and new Eddie Mabo coin attached along with a regular size envelope of the same design. The envelope includes some Indigenous design.
Remembering significant and powerful events by everyday means
25 May 2017

This year marks the anniversaries of two significant milestones in Australian history. It is the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum that gave the Australian Government power to legislate for Indigenous people. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Mabo High Court Decision.

So it’s fitting that Australia honours these two anniversaries with the release of a commemorative coin and stamp.

The Royal Australian Mint has released a commemorative 50 cent coin featuring a likeness of native title rights champion Eddie “Koiki” Mabo and another of the 1967 Referendum.

Australia Post has released a commemorative stamp celebrating the Referendum.

While both anniversaries have emotional meaning to many Australians, it was even more so for coin designer Boneta-Marie Mabo, granddaughter of Eddie Mabo.

“I was proud to be given this opportunity to design a coin featuring my own grandfather,” Boneta Marie said.

“Designing the coin was quite emotional as my grandfather died before the High Court ruling. And while I tried to put all my knowledge and memories of him into one picture, I wasn’t sure how personal I could be in the design.

“It was important to talk to non-relatives to make it meaningful for everyone, so I asked a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders about their memories, feelings and images representing those two events.”

Boneta-Marie’s design displays a portrait of Eddie Mabo, representing the plaintiffs in the case, along with a representation of the Torres Strait Island flag.

Indigenous woman dressed in black holding a 50c coin and a large replica of the coin featuring the following: face of Eddie Mabo, 1992 Mabo - 25 Years, Right Wrongs Write Yes, 50, 1967 Referendum - 50 Years, Aborigines! (three times)
Boneta-Marie Mabo honouring her grandfather, Eddie “Koiki” Mabo and his legacy

For the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, the Australian Aboriginal flag and pamphlets supporting the “Yes” vote are depicted.

Rachael Sarra of the Bunda People in Goreng Goreng Country designed Australia Post’s stamp commemorating the 1967 Referendum. It has a typographic ‘Yes’, which represents the outcome of the vote, on a red background representing the red heart of Australia. Dot art elements and curved lines combine to form a symbol of two fingerprints coming together to form one.

As Australia Post only releases commemorative stamps to commemorate 50 year anniversaries, the stamp does not include references to the Mabo Decision.

Boneta-Marie hopes that people who don’t know the history of the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo Decision will see the coin and stamp and learn more about the struggles that Indigenous people have faced to gain equal rights in Australia.

“As a people we still face a lot of issues so while the anniversaries are a celebration, I hope everyone realises that there is still much to do to ensure that we are all equal.”

Find out more

The Royal Australian Mint is the sole supplier of Australia’s circulating notes and coins. You can purchase the commemorative coin at the Mint’s eshop.

You can purchase the commemorative stamp at Australia Post’s online store.

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