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Australian money is designed to be hard to copy. See if you can find all these features!

You will need

  • A new Australian $5 note
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

What to do

Identify these features on a $5 note:

  • Printing that you can feel and see
  • Two bumps so blind people can recognise the note
  • Three (yes three!) see-through windows
  • A flapping bird
  • Backwards and forwards 5
  • A number that’s different on every note
  • Fivedollarsfivedollarsfivedollars
  • Excerpts from the Australian Constitution, a document setting up rules by which Australia runs

What’s happening?

In Australia, coins are made of metal and notes are made of polymers (plastic). Around the world, most coins are made of metal, but notes are usually made of paper. So why is Australia’s money different?

When it comes to money there’s a secret war going on. Criminals would love to make fake money and spend it like real money. Meanwhile, people who make money want to stop this. As scanners and printers get better, old money gets easier to copy. New features are needed to keep our money safe.

This war has been going on for thousands of years, and our banknotes are part of that. CSIRO scientists invented polymer banknotes, adding features to make them harder to copy than paper notes. It’s almost 25 years since the polymer five dollar note was released, and it’s time to add more security.

In this activity, you’re looking for some of this banknote’s hard-to-copy security features. It’s a good idea to learn a few ways of spotting fakes. There are very few fake notes in Australia. The Reserve Bank reports about eight notes in a million that are not real. But you should still keep your eyes open. Spotting a fake could prevent you from being ripped off, and also protect our money from criminals!

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