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History

The society grew out of the opposition to the war in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s, marked notably by the moratoriums and an escalating anti-war movement.With the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1973, Australian troops were withdrawn from the conflict. Reunification for Vietnam became a reality in 1975 and relations with Australia were normalised, allowing for friendly contact to be established. This new climate became the foundation of an Australia Vietnam Society in most states of the Commonwealth. Delegations of unionists, educators and others were able to visit Vietnam and offer support in the reconstruction phase after several decades of war.

The society’s newsletter Vietnam Today monitored progress in Vietnam and campaigned for support for its reconstruction development. Even a number of Vietnam veterans were involved in this process. Frequent fundraising campaigns to help with emergencies caused by natural disasters took place in each state reaching out to the general public for support, often gaining the support of prominent citizens and leaders in the Australian community.

However, by the 1990s many members of the Australia Vietnam Society felt that Vietnam had established itself so well that a group such as the Australia Vietnam Society was no longer needed, although in South Australia the society continued to operate. Since the 1980s groups of students have been receiving Australian Government scholarships to study English here and the society in South Australia has been able to offer them some support and has cooperated with their organisation, the Vietnam International Students Association.

More recently, it was felt there was still a need for a group representative of more than just one Australian state to be working across the country to establish greater good-will between the two nations. Hence we have the emergence of the Australia Vietnam Friendship Society operating at the national level and reconnecting with international associations in Vietnam.

Currently, the main focus is support for the Children’s Fund in Vietnam where a lack of educational opportunity and especially malnutrition still exist and the effects of Agent Orange still linger.

Vietnam Headlines

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