40th anniversary of the Vietanamese community in Australia, private members business, 27Oct, 2014

It is a privilege to be able to rise and speak today on the motion put forward by the member for Gellibrand. The member and I share a border; the western border of Calwell. The member for Gellibrand is fortunate enough to have a large number of Vietnamese-Australians living in his electorate of Gellibrand, and  I can indeed boast that, of the 220,000 Australians who speak Vietnamese at home today, I have about 1,200 living in the federal seat of Calwell. I have on occasions in this place spoken about them. I would like to take this opportunity to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vietnamese community's presence in Australia.

I have listened to other contributions that have been made and will not necessarily linger on the more negative aspects of Vietnamese settlement in Australia; I just want to say that, as far as my local Vietnamese community is concerned, I have never come across a gentler or more caring community, and I have a very diverse community in the federal seat of Calwell. I have become very friendly with the Vietnamese Senior Citizens Group, which operates out of Meadow Heights in my electorate. It is an organisation that was formed some 10 years ago as a response to the growing need for assistance with the Vietnamese community—especially the elderly community—to come out of their isolation.              


I would imagine that that first generation when coming to Australia came here under enormously difficult circumstances not only in terms of what they fled in Vietnam butt he manner in which they came here and also the climate in which they were received in Australia, which often was not very positive, as has been noted by other speakers I think this probably would have influenced the manner in which they integrated into our community. That is why I would say the first generation tend to be a bit more insular. Maybe they did not have the benefits of becoming as involved in the border community as other ethnic communities may have at that time. They are now into their second and possibly third generation, and there was a time when the children of Vietnamese refugees were the focal point of concern in terms of how they were integrating as young people in our community, but when you look to incredible success stories—in particular the Vietnamese refugee who has recently become the Governor of South Australia. There is no greater honour or symbol of success for a community than one of their members attaining such high office. I think we can all agree that this community has now, after 40 years of living in this country, become well and truly a part of the Australian community.              

I go back to my senior citizens in Meadow Heights. I look forward to sharing Vietnamese New Year with them each year, and each year their attendance grows. What is interesting is that it is an elderly citizens group but they manage to have with them their grandchildren in particular. I started by saying this was a wonderful community. Its family values and the value it places on respect for the aged have never ceased to amaze me. I think the care for their elderly and the respect that the grandchildren have are things we can actually learn from.              

I look forward to seeing Tran and his committee again to celebrate the next Vietnamese New Year. I congratulate the member for Gellibrand for this wonderful motion. It gives us an opportunity to speak about the Vietnamese community in Australia, to speak about its successes. Yes, as the previous member said, they are now very much part of the Australian story as I am and everybody else is. So congratulations to the member for Gellibrand and, to my local Vietnamese community: great work, and thank you for your involvement in our community.