Thursday, 28 February 2008

Polymer Money Collecting: Who Is On The Australian $50 Banknote

The $50 Australian polymer money has two notable figures on it, David Unaipon and Edith Cowan. They remind me of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton who at the moment battling it out over the Democratic primaries in the US. Ok, I know David Unaipon was not a politician, but he was the first Aborigine to put the Aborigines on the map and stand up for their welfare and culture. We are talking of the late 19th century and early mid 20th Century, he was a pacesetter in many ways and I am happy to find such a worthy person featured on the paper money of his nation, how else would the rest of the world know about him? I wouldn't if he wasn't on the banknote and I am inspired. Enjoy!

David Unaipon (1872 -1967)

David Unaipon was born 28 September 1872, an Australian Aboriginal of the Ngarindjeri people . He was a poet, inventor writer and advocate for the Aborigines.
I am amazed at his ability to create, invent as well as understand human nature and frailness. He had a very intuitive and enquiring mind, his inventions included a sheep shearing machine, he had ten patents credited to him, but was unable to raise money to help develop and commercialize any of his inventions.

David was referred to as Australia's Leonard as he produced many mechanical drawings and he even anticipated the invention of the helicopter, he spent most of his later years researching the idea or perpetual motion.

David Unaipon was one of the first Aboriginals to have his works published, these included poetry, news paper articles and Aboriginal folklore and myths amongst others. He was a preacher and he believed that the Aboriginal culture had a lot of similarity to the Christian values. He was employed by the Aborigines' Friends Association to collect subscriptions, this was a job that enabled him to travel around the country, talk and preach in different out back areas, unfortunately David was made to go without shelter in some of the places because of his race! We humans are quite discriminatory about unimportant facts. Our colors may differ but we are the same on the inside.

Anyway Australia did the right thing, discriminated upon or not he has been featured on the $50 bank note, as a remembrance of such a fine mind that lived and worked for Australia's good, trying his best to get equal rights and recognition for the Aboriginal people.

Edith Cowan (1861 -1932)

Edith Cowan was a lady who cared about people around her, she was an overcomer. Her mum died during childbirth and her father was hanged for shooting her stepmother. Instead of letting the past defeat her this lady trained herself, she was part of the founding members of Karrakatta Club, where women trained and educated themselves. They became very outspoken and later fought and won women the right to vote in 1899.

Thereafter she became an advocate for children and then for prostitutes as she campaigned and won a parliamentary seat in government, thus becoming Australia's first woman politician in 1920. She pushed several bills into place which gave women more rights to participate in Australian legal environment.

Edith had a heart for people in pain and the downtrodden, a lot of the upper and middle classes in society did not like the fact that she with not only empathized with but was also known to stop and talk to prostitutes on the streets. Not surprisingly she was not a favorite with them, she did not do will in subsequent elections and though she continued making a contribution to the social advancement of Australia her public life was put on hold because of illness. She died in 1932 and was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery.

Edith Cowan was first featured on Australian polymer banknotes in 1995 and it is one of the many ways this great womans life is remembered in Australia.

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