Australians celebrate our National Day – Australia Day – on January 26 each year. This year, Australia Day falls during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday period. So I'm very pleased to celebrate these occasions by telling Viet Nam News readers about some of the things the Australian Embassy is doing in Viet Nam to strengthen links between Australian and Vietnamese people.
|A glimpse Down Under: Aboriginal artists from Australia perform in front of a balgo painting, which was a gift from the country on the 1,000th anniversary of Ha Noi. — Photo courtesy of the Australian Embassy
The Embassy regularly organises events to share Australian culture with Viet Nam. This year, we will hold a series of events from February 20-26, which we've called Australia Week.
Two renowned Australian musical groups – the award winning a cappella jazz ensemble The Idea of North, and the indigenous-jazz fusion group Visions of a Nomad – will perform in Viet Nam as part of the celebration.
In addition, we will hold screenings of the fun Australian musical movie Bran Nue Dae, which I think Vietnamese audiences will really enjoy. I encourage you to check details on the Australian Embassy website www.vietnam.embassy.gov.au and to come along to some of these events.
We are also sponsoring an Australian Indigenous dance group, Descendance, to perform at this year's Hue Festival, which will give Vietnamese the chance to experience Australia's traditional indigenous culture.
Previously, we have organised a series of concerts and other events to help celebrate Ha Noi's 1000th year anniversary in 2010, arranged an exchange between the Australian under-19 football team and young Vietnamese footballers, and supported training for surf lifeguards in Da Nang.
Cultural activities aside, the Embassy supports small-scale humanitarian and development projects across Viet Nam through our Direct Aid Program.
These have included flood protection, clean water and climate change adaptation projects, projects aimed at raising awareness about HIV, and projects supporting disabled people in Viet Nam. We have also sponsored the Clean Up the World Campaign in Viet Nam every year since 1994 to promote awareness of environmental protection.
Connections between our people are already very strong, and are helping to build mutual understanding. Education is a key contributor. I am very proud that Australia is now the first destination of choice for Vietnamese seeking to study overseas.
Over 22,000 Vietnamese studied in Australia in 2011. And Australia is the largest provider of government scholarships to Viet Nam worldwide; around 400 in 2011 and 2012.
As I travel around Viet Nam, I am continually struck by the number of Vietnamese people who have studied in Australia. This bond creates an immediate rapport between us. In addition to this, over 70 volunteers from Australia, funded by the Australian Government, work in Viet Nam each year helping government, social organisations and universities to deliver better services for Vietnamese people.
Australia will work hard to continue strengthening the connections between Australian and Vietnamese people and to make 2012 – the Year of the Dragon – another landmark year in our Comprehensive Partnership with Viet Nam. — VNS