The Ugly Truth About Our New Banknotes

Australia’s new designed $5 note including a tactile feature

The change of the Australian currency is undergoing it’s biggest revamp since polymer notes replaced paper in 1988 and it’s most wonderful purpose is being overshadowed. Why? Well we can’t please everyone and of course there are always going to be those who don’t like the design but it seems that the general population have no idea why it’s even being changed again in the first place.

When a 13yo boy gets money for Christmas they’re normally thrilled but for Connor McLeod who has been blind since birth, it was frustrating and humiliating. While in comparison to many other countries whose banknotes are all of similar colour and size, our banknotes are very easy to distinguish from each other by colour, without good vision it is useless. People with vision impairment often have to rely on pre-organisation or honesty of society to ensure they handle their money correctly. Connor petitioned the Australian government successfully to have them introduce new banknotes that include a tactile feature. This allows people with visual disabilities to determine the denomination of the notes by feel.

This has to be the biggest national movement toward disability inclusion since the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 yet the whole fabulous excitement of it all for those whom this great change was to serve has been over-clouded by the facile complaining of the population living with great vision. They don’t like what it looks like.

Why it even matters is beyond me anyway. Seriously, who sits their and admires their money before they spend it or while they save it saying ooohhhh my

Picture of Gollum the unattractive troll like fictional character from The Hobbit with the words MY PRECIOUS imposed over the photo

precious, you’re so beautiful? Well come to think of it there are probably people out there who do, but regardless, it completely diminishes what young Connor set out to do and that was be INCLUDED.

While we’re all blarping over what it looks like and whether or not we like it which for majority of the country is of very little consequence given that 53% of transactions in Australia are now cashless according to the RBA. For people with visual disabilities it’s the best thing since sliced bread.. or Braille actually, but the media seem to have focused on the loud majority as usual and asked people do we like what it looks like. I just can’t wait to hear the thoughts of the precious majority who are NOT living with a disability on whether or not they like how it feels.

It just shows that on a national level of disability inclusion, we as a population suck. We’re so worried about the aesthetic benefits for ourselves we miss the grand point of what it means to us as an entire community. Just like the builder who complained to me that having to put in all that disability access stuff is so costly for the return he gets from it. Like, we should just be so grateful they let us out in public in the first place right? I mean, what would a blind person need to do with money anyway? Don’t their carers just do everything for them? If they’re so blind they can’t manage their own money then they shouldn’t be out alone! No joke, people have actually said things like this.

One day we might just accept disability inclusion and stop trying to pretend it’s not there.

Photo of a woman holding her phone and posing in a mirror taking a selfie on a white wall background with a sticker on the wall showing the international symbol for disability. The caption on the photo asks “Can someone please photoshop out that disabled thing? Thanks!” The reply is a copy of her photo but with her removed and the disability symbol kept on the wall.

Get with the program Australia. It’s not just about you any more. It’s about building inclusive communities. Sorry to be such an inconvenience…. not sorry.

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