State Library images used on new $50 note

  • The new $50 note celebrates Western Australian icon, Edith Cowan OBE
  • Photographs from State Library’s collection sourced for banknote design

The Reserve Bank of Australia has developed a new look $50 banknote which celebrates the life and achievements of one of Western Australia’s most significant social workers, equal rights pioneer and politician, Edith Cowan OBE.

Edith Cowan was the first woman elected to an Australian Parliament as the Member for the seat of West Perth in the Legislative Assembly from 1921 to 1924. Her depiction on the $50 banknote is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Western Australian woman.

Based on photographs from the State Library of Western Australia’s collection, the next generation banknote features a portrait of Edith Cowan and her campaign brooch. The brooch depicts a cracked gumnut, which is thought to be symbolic of the seat of West Perth supposedly being a tough nut to crack for a woman at the time.

Also featured on the note are text excerpts from her maiden speech to the Parliament of Western Australia, and the 1923 Women’s Legal Status Act which was one of Cowan’s most important achievements.

The banknote will be in circulation from tomorrow (October 18).

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