ALL TOGETHER NOW: Australia Day BBQ held by Australian Consulate General in HCM City in 2019. Photo courtesy of the embassy
On the occasion of Australia Day, Australian Ambassador to Việt Nam Robyn Mudie presents the following article.
Việt Nam has a special place in my heart. I first came to Việt Nam as a young diplomat in 1993 and I have been so pleased and proud to return as ambassador some twenty-five years later. The changes in Việt Nam and the progress in the Australia-Việt Nam relationship over this period have been incredible.
Việt Nam is now a more prosperous, dynamic, innovative and inspirational country than the one I knew in the early 1990s.
Economically more integrated and internationally more confident, Việt Nam has become one of Australia’s most important partners in Southeast Asia.
Our prime ministers, foreign ministers, economic ministers and defence ministers now meet every year. Our diplomats are standing together on the global stage to promote an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Our scientists and innovators are collaborating to prepare both countries for the future, including Industry 4.0.
Australian and Vietnamese businesses are setting new records, with two-way trade rising to $14.6 billion in 2018.
However, the change that strikes me most is the growing cultural exchange and deepening trust between the Australian and Vietnamese people. We are two nations with different systems of government, different languages and different cultures, but we enjoy a warm and comfortable partnership because of the longstanding ties between our two peoples.
People-to-people links are in many ways at the heart of our relationship. There are almost 300,000 Australians with Vietnamese ancestry. These dynamic Australians have excelled in every field, from government, the law, business, medicine, engineering, the arts and science. Many of them have become household names in Australia – from television personality Andy Trieu and scientist Jordan Nguyen, to ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ entrepreneur Natalie Nguyen. Through their diligence, enterprising spirit, and their love of community, they have enriched Australia’s national life.
The thousands of scholars, students, interns and volunteers who choose to travel to Australia and Việt Nam have also strengthened ties between Australia and Việt Nam. Around 25,000 Vietnamese students studied in Australia last year, the fifth largest group of foreign students in Australia. The numbers of Australians coming to Việt Nam for study, to volunteer and undertake internships also continues to grow. Through shared experience and deepening understanding, these young ambassadors are providing a bridge between our two countries.
The outpouring of support for the Australian community during the recent devastating bushfires epitomises the depth of this friendship between our two countries. We are very grateful for the messages of support for Australia and the Australian people at this difficult time, including from the Vietnamese Government and friends. The scale and heartbreaking impact of these bushfires is unprecedented, but most destinations within Australia remain unaffected. Australia remains a world-leading tourist destination and a safe place to study, and we look forward to continuing to welcome Vietnamese visitors, business people and students to our beautiful country.
With Australia’s National Day and Tết just around the corner, many of my Vietnamese friends are asking me what an Australian celebration looks like. As one of the most multicultural nations in the world, Australian celebrations first and foremost reflect our cultural and historical diversity. At an Aussie ‘barbie’ (barbecue) you will likely find Vietnamese gỏi cuốn (summer rolls), Malaysian satay and a Thai mango salad, or some indigenous bush tucker alongside the prawns and ‘snags’ (sausages).
Australian celebrations also reflect our strong sense of community, which is something we have in common with our Vietnamese friends. Our celebrations also reflect our love of the outdoors. We love to swim, surf, sail, play football and ride bicycles — and many of us will celebrate by going to the beach or countryside to enjoy a picnic with family and friends.
Each year, the embassy brings a little bit of this Australian celebration and spirit to Việt Nam. Through our annual Taste of Australia programme, we celebrate Australian food, beverages and culture. In 2020, we are excited to showcase Australia’s indigenous culture with planning underway for indigenous Australian painters, performing artists and chefs to visit. Look out for the schedule of events on our Facebook page!
In conclusion, I would also like to wish everyone health, happiness and success in the Year of the Golden Rat! I hope that 2020 will bring success to Việt Nam and its people, as well as to the Australia-Việt Nam relationship! VNS