Australia's $5 note gets rise from the blind

Australians will soon have the new $5 notes in their hands (Getty)
Australians will soon have the new $5 notes in their hands (Getty)

Australia's new $5 note has been called ugly, but there is one group of people literally blind to that who are just thankful they can tell what currency they're using.

Along with increased security features and a new design, the note has a raised bump on each of the long edges.

Vision Australia lead policy advisor Bruce Maguire told ABC News the change would benefit almost 360,000 blind or vision-impaired Australians.

"As a blind person I think this change is one of the most significant - if not the most significant - inclusive actions I've seen in Australia in my lifetime because while there have been other inclusive actions, like audible pedestrian crossings, they're not universal - they differ from state to state.

"The new note with the tactile feature will help every Australian, no matter where they are."

Australia's $5 note gets rise from the blind

The front and back of the new $5 bill (Supplied)

Australia's $5 note gets rise from the blind


It went into circulation on Thursday, but will take some time to become the norm as it replaces the older version.

New Zealand Blind Foundation access and awareness advisor Chris Orr says features to help the blind decipher which notes they use have been in place for years - sometimes with limited success.

He says international experience had shown raised features on notes were problematic because they get worn away over time and can also mean notes get stuck in ATMs.

The foundation, as well as Blind Citizens NZ, worked with the Reserve Bank on New Zealand's newest series of bank notes, which are now in circulation. They have larger numbers on the notes and greater contrast in colours, which are also of differing physical sizes.

In April, when the design of the new Australian $5 note was released, it was criticised as "atrocious", "disgusting" and like "clown puke".

While the note has a familiar feel - its size and the image of Queen Elizabeth II remain the same - the design has had a bit of spruce-up, with the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern Spinebill bird in a blue strip through the middle.

The $5 bill is the first in the new series of notes which will be rolled out over the coming years.