The daughter of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has this week backed plans by a group of Beaconsfield students to honour her father on Australian banknotes.
Their petition went viral when it was launched online and has continued to garner nationwide support.
St Francis Xavier College boys Daniel, Luke, Jake, Kyle and Riley had watched a nostalgic Steve Irwin video online the night before launching their petition and Facebook event to advocate for Irwin’s portrait to be put on Australia’s “outdated” banknotes.
During their school lunch break on Monday 5 September, the friends decided to launch the petition after hearing that the Reserve Bank of Australia planned to upgrade its banknotes.
They created a Facebook event that night and by 9pm it had attracted the attention of 1500 people. They woke up the next morning to discover its reach had grown to about 3500.
The event now has the support of more than 17,000 followers, with about 2000 having signed the petition.
Speaking on behalf of the boys, Daniel Brown said Irwin was an Australian icon and an idol to people of all ages.
“He was a global conservationist and a great bloke,” the 17-year-old said.
“He educated us with such enthusiasm about our Australian animals and what we can do to protect them.
“He died when we were in about Grade 2. We all used to watch his show and we were pretty emotionally impacted by his death.
“The current notes are in need of an upgrade. None of the kids at school know who these people on our notes are. They’re a bit outdated.
“We’ve done some research and we think it’s about time the government realised Steve’s a deserving candidate.”
The initial plan had been to hold an advocacy event at Federation Square in February to coincide with Irwin’s birthday, but the boys now hope to push that date forward to take advantage of the momentum.
Steve Irwin’s daughter, Bindi, was excited to hear of the extent of support behind the boys’ petition and gave it the family’s blessing.
“It is such an honour that Dad is being considered to be remembered forever on Australian currency,” she said.
“His legacy will continue to inspire us all, he truly changed the world.”
But despite the petition’s rising support, a Reserve Bank of Australia spokesman said that the portraits represented on Australian banknotes would not undergo changes during the current rollout of the upgraded series of notes.
“The primary focus of the upgrade program is to introduce a range of new security features to ensure our banknotes remain secure against counterfeiting. The notes will feature the same notable Australians,” the spokesman said.
“Choosing new people to feature on the new banknotes would significantly prolong the process due to the additional research, design and consultation required.
“As such, a decision was made early on to retain key design elements including the portraits depicted on each denomination.”
The Royal Australian Mint, which is responsible for manufacturing Australian circulating coins, produced a commemorative $1 coin featuring Steve Irwin in 2009 to honour the role he played in wildlife conservation.
Sunday 4 September this year marked the 10th anniversary of Steve Irwin’s tragic death during the filming of an underwater documentary when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb.
The Beaconsfield students plan to maintain pressure on decision makers to include Steve Irwin on Australian currency.
For more information, view the ‘Put Steve Irwin on the Aussie Currency’ Facebook event or http://www.change.org to view the ‘Put Steve Irwin on the Australian Currency’ petition.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.