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The Hon. Chris Hayes's speech at VAWA’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 23 September 2015
The Hon. Chris Hayes MP
Vietnamese Australian Welfare Association 40 Year Anniversary of Settlement in Australia
23 September 2015
It is a great honour to be here today to celebrate 40 years of Vietnamese settlement in Australia with the Vietnamese Australian Welfare Association (VAWA).
Since the end of the Vietnam War 40 years ago, Australia opened its doors to Vietnamese refugees fleeing from the repressive forces of the communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Australia initially accepted more than 50,000 Vietnamese refugees, who were feeling the weight of persecution, and who made the treacherous journey in the hope of a better life for themselves and their families. Today, Australia is proud to be home to more than 200,000 Australian Vietnamese who has become an integral part of the Australian society.
Apart from sharing your vibrant culture and traditions with the broader Australian society, Vietnamese Australians have contributed much in all areas of community life and are well represented in a range of professions including law, medicine and engineering.
The Vietnamese community is an energetic and innovative group of immigrants who have contributed enormously to the multicultural development of this nation. Your achievements should be the source of great pride, particularly given the struggles and hardships that you have had to endure following your settlement.
As the federal member for Fowler, I am very privileged to have the opportunity to represent the largest Vietnamese community in Australia.
In fact, more than 20 percent of residents living in my electorate speak Vietnamese at home. I have witnessed, firsthand, your hardworking nature in your careers and your charitable attitude when it comes to assisting the disadvantaged in the broader community.
You have undoubtedly demonstrated yourselves to be one of the finest examples of the true Australian spirit, and for this you can be truly very proud.
In the short 40 years that you have called Australia home, the Vietnamese community have successfully set up services to assist Vietnamese refugees with their integration into the western society.
I have had the privilege to work alongside a number of these organisations, including VAWA over the past 5 years. Specifically, I have witnessed firsthand the Associations efforts and endeavours in supporting the Vietnamese and Indochinese community in the south-west of Sydney.
Under the leadership of Amrbose Dinh, who is the longest serving President of VAWA, he and his team have assisted more than 10,000 refugees with settlement services and have also established an Early Intervention and Placement Prevention program to provide welfare services to families living in the Bankstown and Fairfield LGAs. These services aim to address the issues of domestic violence, family relationship, drug and alcohol addiction and problem gambling.
More recently, the Association has also expanded their services to address issues of youth on the streets and children at risk
I cannot overstate how lucky we are to have organisations like yours in our local community. Your services genuinely makes a difference to the lives of many, and certainly enhances and enriches the multicultural society of our community.
On the 26th Anniversary and AGM of VAWA, I would like to say thank you, for all you do, and I congratulate the President –Ambrose Dinh, his management committee and volunteers on your achievements and successes.
It takes a very special team of people to do the things that you do here, and I look forward to many more years of your contribution to this community.
(VAWA - Bankstown 23 September 2015)