The Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) is responsible for producing Australia's circulating coinage. Circulating coins are coins that are used in everyday cash transactions for the payment of goods and services. This is distinct from uncirculating coins (also referred to as numismatic coins) that are intended for coin collectors and the souvenir/gift market (see the separate document for the policy on determining coin themes for uncirculating coins).
Australian circulating coins normally feature images of the echidna (five cents), the lyrebird (10 cents), the platypus (20 cents), the coat of arms (50 cents), the kangaroo (one dollar) and an Aboriginal tribal elder (two dollars). The obverse of Australian legal tender coins must feature the approved effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
On special occasions, some circulating coins will be issued with commemorative designs. Coins used to feature commemorative designs in circulating currency are typically the $1 coin, the 50 cent coin and the 20 cent coin.
Policy for Determining Themes for Commemorative Circulating Coins
In general, to be considered for a commemorative circulating coin, the theme must relate to an event, commemoration or anniversary of national significance and broad interest to the Australian community. Themes must be acceptable to the general community and acceptable to be shown on an Australian legal tender coin. In addition, commemorative circulating coins would only be considered for major anniversaries of overarching national organisations and not their individual parts, for example, a major anniversary of the Australian Army, but not an individual regiment.
Images of Individuals
In general, circulating coins will not feature individuals whether living or deceased other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family. In the rare circumstances that a commemorative circulating coin design does feature the image of an individual, the coin would mark the anniversary of the birth or significant historic event in the life of that person. Coins will not commemorate the death of an individual. Alternatively, an individual may be included on a coin where an individual is associated with the organisation, event or object being commemorated on the coin.
A coin theme will not be approved if it could be considered offensive or potentially exposes the Australian Government to legal risks. The following subjects are, as a general rule, not to be depicted on commemorative circulating coins:
- Individuals, living or deceased, other than members of the Royal family (see discussion above).
- Individual parts of an organisation.
- Matters of interest to only a small or narrow section of the community.
- Anniversaries associated with a region of Australia (including a state or territory), or a federal, state or local government organisation.
- Anniversaries of the founding of a federal, state, city, town or local government organisation.
- Themes connected with a religious organisation, political group or commercial enterprise as they are likely to cause public divisiveness.
- Periodic events or festivals that are not of national significance.
- Matters for which the necessary copyright or other legal requirements cannot be satisfied.
Submit a Proposed Theme
The Mint receives many suggested themes for commemorative circulating coins from a range of individuals and organisations each year.
The lead time between when the Mint receives a suggested theme and when a commemorative coin enters circulation can be up to two years. This should be taken into account when making suggestions.
The design, development and production may be subject to it being undertaken on a fee for service basis.
The Mint submits themes it considers suitable, with proposed designs, to the responsible Minister under the Currency Act 1965 for approval. The Minister retains absolute discretion in the approval of Australian coins for mintage. Approved designs are lodged on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments and are also tabled in Federal Parliament.
Suggestions for commemorative circulating coins are welcome and should be sent to:
The Chief Executive Officer
Royal Australian Mint
DEAKIN ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 62026999