Chern'ee Sutton Designs Australia's Newest Coin
Indigenous men and women who have served in the military have been commemorated through Australia’s newest circulating $2 coin launched by the Royal Australian Mint yesterday, 30 March. Designed by Aboriginal Artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern’ee Sutton, the coin is the first coloured coin commemorating Indigenous people. Royal Australian Mint CEO, Leigh Gordon, said the unveiling of the coin was an important step in Australia’s journey. “With this coin, the Royal Australian Mint acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous Australia’s longstanding tradition of serving in the military,” Mr Gordon said.
“Having served in every conflict and commitment involving Australian defence contingents since Federation, including, but not limited to, Gallipoli, Kokoda and Vietnam, the strength of Indigenous service has been a constant throughout Australian history.”
The design of the coin is rich with Indigenous and military symbols that represent and acknowledge Indigenous Australia’s longstanding tradition of serving in the military.
Ms Sutton said that a black handprint in the centre surrounded by three rows of dots in the colours of the Defence Forces Tri-Service Flag represents the 120-year contribution of Indigenous military men and women. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have always played a significant role in the Defence Force,” said Ms Sutton.
“They’ve sacrificed their lives and fought for our country that, at one point in time, didn’t recognise them as Australian citizens and didn’t even give them the opportunity to vote.
“The Defence Force was actually a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women were treated almost as equals. They received fair pay, they received food, they received shelter and the brotherhood that they made once they were a part of the Defence Force lasted long after they came back,” she said.