Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern'ee Sutton unveiled the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) coin in Canberra this week to celebrate indigenous men and women who have served in the military.
Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern'ee Sutton unveiled the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) coin in Canberra this week to celebrate indigenous men and women who have served in the military.

MINT IDEA: Rich meaning behind special coin artwork

She's previously been named one of Bundaberg's 50 most influential people, designed jersey artwork for the indigenous All Stars and has paintings on permanent display at Government House and the Pullman and Mercure hotels in Brisbane.

But Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern'ee Sutton is continuing to add to her long list of achievements and accolades.

The Bundaberg local unveiled the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) coin in Canberra this week to celebrate indigenous men and women who have served in the military.

Drawing inspiration from Ms Sutton’s painting the colourful $2 coin features a black handprint in the centre and is surrounded by three rows of dots in the defence force’s tri-service flag colours.
Drawing inspiration from Ms Sutton’s painting the colourful $2 coin features a black handprint in the centre and is surrounded by three rows of dots in the defence force’s tri-service flag colours.

"With this coin the Royal Australian Mint acknowledges and celebrates indigenous Australia's longstanding tradition of serving in the military," Royal Australian Mint chief executive officer Leigh 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 Kalkadoon artist has a growing list of achievements and accolades under her belt.
The Kalkadoon artist has a growing list of achievements and accolades under her belt.

Drawing inspiration from Ms Sutton's painting the colourful $2 coin features a black handprint in the centre and is surrounded by three rows of dots in the defence force's tri-service flag colours.

"This painting is called indigenous military service and represents the Brave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and women who have served in the Australian Defence Force from the beginning to present day," Ms Sutton said.

"I am honoured to have designed this significant artwork that recognises my brothers and sisters who have bravely fought in every conflict Australia has been involved in, it is a timely tribute to their sacrifices made for all of us."

The coin will be released in the coming weeks with the limited edition uncirculated version available to purchase from the Royal Australian Mint on April 1.

For more information call the contact centre on 1300 652 020.

Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern'ee Sutton unveiled the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) coin in Canberra this week to celebrate indigenous men and women who have served in the military.
Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern'ee Sutton unveiled the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) coin in Canberra this week to celebrate indigenous men and women who have served in the military.

The full artist statement can be read below.

"In my painting the Rainbow Serpent is filled with both indigenous symbols and military symbols to represent the indigenous military service journey - the serpent is in the colours of the army, navy and air force.

"Starting from the head the first travelling lines and community symbol represents indigenous Australians travelling from their communities and joining the armed forces in Australia under the Southern Cross.

"They then travel to the different armed force bases around Australia as proud indigenous service men and women represented by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spears.

"The travelling lines turn into barbed wire as the indigenous service personnel travel to conflicts around the world in defence of our nation.

"The guns, plane and ship symbolises the three branches within the Australian Defence Force- army, air force and navy where our enlisted brothers and sisters serve and protect our great nation.

"The red cross represents the vital medical care which is given to those in need and the poppies and Rosemary represents our fallen brothers and sisters and never forgetting their sacrifice in defence of our country as well as ANZAC and Remembrance Day.

"The boomerang represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women returning to Australia after their deployment overseas and the footprint represents the spiritual connection that they feel when they once again walk on country.

"The final travelling lines represent personnel travelling home once again to their communities and the kangaroo and emu footprints represent indigenous involvement and culture in the armed forces, which is always moving forwards and never backwards with the dotted circles representing the families of those that serve and give their support.

"The handprint in the center represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, culture and our proud history of over 65,000 years, with the three rows of dots behind the handprint in the colours of the defence forces tri-service flag - the dark blue, red and light blue, representing the army, navy and air force respectively.

"In the background of the painting the blues, red and yellow have also been used, again symbolising the colours of the tri-service flag.

"The army, navy and air force have also been represented through the three different types of camouflage bordering the painting.

"The 12 smaller grey, white, blue and green dotted stars around the outside of the piece, represent the major battles and conflicts that have been fought in Australia's defence - they are all connected by the spirit trails which turns into barbed wire and wraps around the shield, gun and spears, symbolising the fierce combat which takes place on the battlefield and the boomerang symbolises the defence force personnel returning home after the conflict.

"The warrior stands proud watching and caring for the land he calls home, nurturing his country and respecting his culture and the kneeling soldier pays his respects to his fallen brothers and sisters and the sacrifices they made for our great nation and our way of life.

"The two blue dotted circles which contain the white diamonds symbolise Lieutenant Reg Saunders and Second Lieutenant Alfred John Hearps who were the first Aboriginal officers in the Australian armed forces.

"The three blue star symbols represent the service men and women's character which radiates pride, strength and reverence.

"Proud of our indigenous heritage and serving our country, strength in being a part of the defence forces and indigenous communities and revered for being so dedicated to our nation.

"The four community symbols surrounded by the men and women symbols with boomerangs, spears, coolamons and digging sticks throughout the piece represent the three regional force surveillance units, NORFORCE, the Pilbara regiment and the 51st battalion far north Queensland regiment as well as the auxiliary services, all of which are largely made up of indigenous Australians.

"The footprints which walk throughout the painting represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service personnel's journey from the past into the future fighting for freedom.

"Finally the Southern Cross and writing indigenous military service 1901-2021 represents the long and honoured history of indigenous Australians serving in the defence force even prior to federation in 1901 to present day Australia.

"One hundred and twenty years of indigenous military service, of pride, strength and courage fighting for our nation, in times of peace and times of war.

"In times of discrimination before they were given the right to vote or were even recognised as Australian citizens, indigenous personnel still stepped up to defend Australia and served on equal terms in the defence force.

"In times of reconciliation and equality, they continue to serve and not only represent our beautiful country, but also our unique and ancient cultures.

"Thank you to all our brothers and sisters who have served and continue to serve in defence of our country Australia."­

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