|People celebrate Australia Day in HCM City early this month. — Photo courtesy of the embassy|
Today is the National Day of Australia. It is a day when Australians come together to celebrate our rich culture, national character and shared values.
When you think about Australia Day celebrations, you might picture Australians spending time at the beach or around the BBQ. You might picture us playing Aussie rules football in the backyard or enjoying a picnic in the beautiful nature Australia has in abundance.
Australia Day is this — and more. It is also a celebration of the rich diversity of the Australian people and the ways we celebrate it are as diverse as those who make up our nation.
On Australia Day, we acknowledge and celebrate our proud Indigenous heritage as home to one of the world’s oldest living peoples.
We also recognise the outstanding contribution made to our nation by migrants from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Since the late 18th century, millions of people have chosen to come and build a new life in Australia.
Today, one in four Australians were born overseas, one in two have an overseas-born parent and 20 per cent speak a language other than English at home.
So if you or your family are attending an Australia Day function or if you see pictures from your family and friends, I encourage you to take a second look. At the Australia Day BBQ you’ll likely see Vietnamese phở cuốn (rice noodle rolls), Japanese teriyaki chicken and Indian Naan bread alongside the traditional sausages in bread.
You might also see one of the 16,000 migrants who will become proud new Australian citizens on Australia Day.
Australia is home to people from more than 270 ancestries. Among them are 300,000 Australians of Vietnamese descent.
In fact, the Vietnamese community is the fifth largest migrant community in Australia.
These Vietnamese Australians make an important contribution to Australia’s social, cultural, political and economic life. Among them are scientists, artists, scholars, politicians and business men and women. Many have become household names including the Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le, celebrity chef Luke Nguyen and biomedical engineer and inventor Dr Jordan Nguyen. Many are also exploring their Vietnamese heritage and returning to contribute to Việt Nam.
These Australian Vietnamese are an important bridge between our two countries. Together with thousands of Australian and Vietnamese students and tourists, they provide the foundation for the strong diplomatic relationship between Australia and Việt Nam. They provide a strong basis to know and understand each other. They allow us to approach challenges in the spirit of friendship and co-operation. They provide the foundation for our two countries to work together to achieve stability and prosperity for our citizens, the region and the globe.
In conclusion, I would like to say “Happy Australia Day” to all Australians and our Vietnamese Friends. With Tết (Lunar New Year) just around the corner, I would also like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous year of the pig. As we embrace the new year, I look forward to deeper and more diverse co-operation between our two countries and stronger friendship between our two peoples. — VNS
*Rebecca Bryant is Chargé d’Affaires of Australian Embassy in Hà Nội. She commenced her posting as Deputy Head of Mission to Việt Nam in December 2017.