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Australia, VN education exchange growing

Update: January, 26/2015 - 08:47

Celebrating achievements: An island in the Torres Straits. — Courtesy Photo of Australia Embassy

On the occasion of Australia Day (January 26), Viet Nam News presents an article by Australian Ambassador Hugh Borrowman.

Today is the National Day of Australia, a day when all Australians celebrate their national achievements and character.

But it is also important for nations, especially nations in the same region like Australia and Viet Nam, to cooperate, to build friendships and to build relationships, to better meet the challenges of the modern world.

So I would like to use this opportunity of Australia's National Day to reflect on the friendship between Australia and Viet Nam.

Our friendship and cooperation extends across almost every field – political, economic, defence, development assistance, education and training, law enforcement, culture and many more.

Of these, one of the most important and longest-standing aspects of our friendship is education. In over 40 years of diplomatic relations, Australia has hosted over 50,000 Vietnamese students, around 4,500 of these on an Australian Government scholarship or fellowship. These figures are continuing to grow, with some 30,000 enrolments of Vietnamese students in Australia as at the end of 2014, and more Vietnamese students studying at Australian institutions based in Viet Nam.

Recently, Australia has launched an exciting new initiative in the field of international education cooperation: the New Colombo Plan. While the original Colombo Plan brought students from developing countries to Australia, the New Colombo Plan is bringing Australian students to Asia with the aim of increasing our understanding of Asian cultures and developing deep and lasting relationship networks in the region.

This year alone, around 160 Australian students will come to Viet Nam under the New Colombo Plan to undertake studies in areas ranging from teaching, to design, to environmental management and I was delighted to welcome the first group to Ha Noi earlier this month.

However, education is just one of the sectors in which we have a great deal of exchange. We also have broader cultural ties due in part to the large number of people in Australia with Vietnamese heritage. In the last Australian census (2011), over 220,000 people claimed Vietnamese ancestry. Many of these people have made great contributions to Australian social, cultural and political life. They include the Governor of South Australia, Le Van Hieu; the actor, writer and comedian, Anh Do; and the chef and restaurateur, Luke Nguyen.

At the day-to-day level, Vietnamese food is among the most popular cuisines in Australia, and pho shops are increasingly common. Australians also like visiting Viet Nam as tourists - over 300,000 Australians visit Viet Nam each year and they take away memories of the friendly nature of the Vietnamese people, of the beauty of the country, of Viet Nam's many achievements, and the pride of the Vietnamese people in their country.

These people-to-people links are the bedrock of our broader bilateral relationship, forming a strong basis for us to know each other and to work together towards our similar interests and goals: prosperous, stable peaceful countries, in a prosperous and stable region.

During the past year, a great example of high-level cooperation between Australia and Viet Nam has been the Asia Pacific Leaders' Malaria Alliance. This initiative is aimed at eliminating malaria in our region and is co-chaired by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. In November last year, our two prime ministers led the way for a commitment by leaders from India to the US to the goal of eradicating malaria from the Asia Pacific region by 2030. This will be no easy task, but if it can achieved, it will be a very significant achievement that our two leaders will have contributed to the wider region that we live in.

This is just one example of Australia and Viet Nam working together. There are many, many more.

We celebrated the western New Year a few weeks ago, and Tet is only a few weeks away.

As we all embrace new years and new beginnings, I look forward to further and deeper cooperation and friendship between our two countries, to use the relationship and friendship between our two countries for the betterment of all.

Happy Australia Day. — VNS

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