Vietnamese Australians

Vietnamese Australians

I rise to speak on the work of a special group of people in my home state of Queensland who I am honoured to call friends.

The Vietnamese Community in Australia, Queensland Chapter is a local community association formed in 1979 to support the 28,000 Vietnamese people who call Queensland home. Last year, members of the Vietnamese community decided to do something to help drought-stricken farmers in western Queensland. Past president of the VCA Viet Tran first got the idea to hold a fundraiser after his friends who run a business at Miles told him about how the drought situation was crippling them. He was shocked to hear how badly people on the land and businesses in town were suffering. And he couldn't just stand by.

He set about organising a drought appeal dinner and dance. He contacted former Senator Ron Boswell—a generous friend and supporter of the community over many years—who put him in touch with David Phelps, chairman of the Western Queensland Drought Appeal. That night, a night I enjoyed, raised $25,480. It was a simple timber pen that sparked the most fundraising of the night, selling for over $2,000. It was hand made, holding special meaning as it was crafted by Vietnam veteran Rodney Hill, a good friend of Queensland's Vietnamese community. All of the money they raised went into drought-affected farmers' hands. Over 100 farming families benefited from the community's generosity. It was a great night, and I must thank Viet for the invitation.

On 9 March this year, Vietnamese community members held a sell-out fundraising event for the PA Research Foundation, with the chairman of the foundation's management committee, Damian Topp. Just this past Sunday, the Vietnamese community in Queensland raised an incredible $35,000 for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Queensland Vietnamese community have a long history of helping people who are less fortunate in our community. Viet Tran says that the desire to help and contribute is born from Australia's generosity to the Vietnamese people who fled here after the Vietnamese war. That's a pretty admirable quality, in my view.

VCA Queensland also contributes in a myriad of non-fundraising-related ways to help make the community a better and more inclusive place to live. Brisbane wouldn't be the same without the annual Lunar New Year and children's festivals organised by the community. The Vietnamese community of Queensland runs the two-night Lunar New Year festival each year, with traditional ceremonies, entertainment, community group information, food stalls and children's rides. Later in the year, they hold the Mid-Autumn Festival, traditionally a time to celebrate the end of the harvesting season in Vietnam, when farmers can relax and enjoy time with their families, especially their children. That's why it's also called the Children's Festival. It's another great night where children are given gifts, and they perform songs and dances and enjoy all the rides and stalls. It's become a great opportunity for people from all different kinds of cultures to get together and enjoy one another's company. It's so great to see the way the Vietnamese community of Queensland invites other ethnic groups in our community to take part in the festivals, joining in the celebrations and often performing their cultural dances on the stage. They are a really wonderfully welcoming and inclusive group.

The Queensland chapter of Vietnamese Community in Australia conduct regular social events for different groups in the area. For instance, later this month they're holding a morning tea for people with disability and their carers, with the motto 'live happily and be active'. It will be a wonderful opportunity for people in similar situations to meet each other and have a fun and entertaining day. They hold rallies each year in support of a free and democratic Vietnam. They also support the fight for democracy in other countries. The weekend before last, they brought together members of the Vietnamese community and other multicultural groups in the Brisbane CBD to peacefully join in a rally in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Each year, they also organise really moving commemorations for the anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the 60,000 brave Australian men and women who served in the Vietnam War. It really is an impressive thing to see such gratitude from our Vietnamese community for Australia's service men and women.

I commend the Queensland chapter of Vietnamese Community in Australia for their absolutely outstanding work in our community. I thank them for their help with the drought in Queensland, and I thank them for welcoming me. In conclusion: cam on Cong Dong Viet Nam da giup do nan han han o Queensland.