Vietnam Time

4/12/2018 3:21:31 PM

Vietnam, Australia keep building rapport

A host of events are planned as Vietnam and Australia celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations this year.

Building rapport

Nine introductory panels were presented to the Temple of Literature by the Australian Embassy early this year (photo: Australian Embassy in VN)

Nine introductory panels were presented to the Temple of Literature by the Australian Embassy early this year, to support tourism at one of the most important historical sites in Hanoi. It was the culmination of many years of work under a cooperative project between Australian and Vietnamese officials, experts and artisans. Combining images and text in three different languages - Vietnamese, English and French - the panels provide visitors with information on the Temple of Literature’s remarkable history over thousands of years. Selected as the first activity to launch celebrations of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Australia, it’s expected to be a lasting symbol of the friendship. Other activities have also been carried out to strengthen the relationship.

The panel project built upon the success of a similar project in 2016, in which Australia presented 14 bilingual introductory panels to the Thang Long Citadel, another historical site of great importance for Vietnam. ‘We are very grateful for the Australian Government’s gift, which enables us to better preserve and promote the Temple of Literature,’ said Director of the Cultural and Scientific Centre of the Temple of Literature, Dr Le Xuan Kieu. ‘Each introductory panel is a concise brief on a section of the Temple and, taken together, tell the whole story about the invaluable historical site.’

A 45th anniversary commemorative logo has also been launched, featuring Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House and the star of the Vietnamese flag. The winning logo was selected in a competition organised by the Australian Embassy and the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November 2017. It received over 150 entries from designers around Vietnam.

Soon after the anniversary celebrations were launched, the ‘Australia - Vietnam Mural Village’ was introduced in Tan Tich ward, Cao Lanh city, in the Mekong Delta’s Dong Thap province. This is the very first community art project in the Delta supported by the Australian Government.

Hundreds of different murals were created by artists, including an indigenous Australian artist, together with volunteer students from Dong Thap University. ‘The public art project has created opportunities for young local people to contribute to their local community and for both Australian and Vietnamese artists to put their creative talents on display,’ said Bradley Kickett, an Australian artist who participated in the project.

The Australia - Vietnam Mural Village is expected to bring a new vitality to the Tan Tich neighbourhood while still preserving the charm of its tight-knit community. Over time, the village will attract many visitors from across the province, different parts of the country, and from around the world, according to Ms Rebecca Bryant, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.

Building rapport

The Australia - Vietnam Mural Village is expected to bring a new vitality to the Tan Tich neighbourhood  (photo: Australian Embassy in VN) 

Cao Lanh Bridge, also in Cao Lanh city and Australia’s largest aid project in mainland Southeast Asia and built with cooperation from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was opened in March. As one of two major bridges under the Central Mekong Delta Connectivity Project, it will help link people and markets in the Mekong Delta with the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond. The bridge will directly benefit 5 million people and is expected to shorten travel times for 170,000 daily road users. ‘The mural village and Cao Lanh Bridge are expected to be new symbols of the friendship between Australia and Vietnam,’ said Ms Bryant.

Another highlight in the anniversary program will be the Taste of Australia program, an annual Vietnam-wide celebration of Australian cuisine and culture. A range of events will be held throughout April, including community BBQs in Danang and Nha Trang, a music and wine journey in HCMC, and a culinary competition for budding Vietnamese chefs. More information on these and other events is available on the Australian Embassy’s website and Facebook page.

Community BBQs are also a key cultural event for the increasing number of Australians coming to Vietnam to study, visit, work or open a business, according to Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Craig Chittick. BBQs are usually organised every year by the Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in HCMC for the Australia Day celebrations on 26 January, providing an opportunity for Australians to get together to enjoy sports and games, music, and food and drinks.

In order to broaden cultural exchanges, the New Colombo Plan, a signature initiative from the Australian Government, aims to deepen Australians’ understanding of countries and cultures in the Indo-Pacific region. Begun in 2014, the New Colombo Plan supports Australian students in their study and provides internships in Vietnam. In its first year, 161 Australian undergraduates came to Vietnam to study and undertake internships. Three years later the number has grown five-fold, with around 1,540 students expected to visit Vietnam by the end of this year. This makes Vietnam the sixth most popular destination for New Colombo Plan students, according to Ambassador Chittick.

Building rapport

In its first year, 161 Australian undergraduates came to Vietnam to study and undertake internships. (photo: Australian Embassy in VN)

Students will take part in 30 projects under the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program this year, in fields ranging from Human Welfare Studies and Services to Urban Design and Regional Planning. ‘The program is transformational. Students return to Australia with new friendships and professional connections that will last a lifetime, as well as new perspectives on Vietnam that will contribute to the relationship between our two countries for decades to come,’ Ambassador Chittick told The Guide.

In addition to the New Colombo Plan program, the Australia Awards-Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships also provide opportunities for Australians to undertake studies, research or professional development overseas, including in Vietnam. It also allows Vietnamese citizens to do the same in Australia. This year Vietnam received 41 Endeavour Awards; the second highest allocation of awards granted worldwide. Most notably, Vietnamese candidates won 13 PhD Endeavour Scholarships; the largest for any country. This is regarded as a testament to the calibre of Vietnamese candidates.

Along with cultural exchanges through education, gender equality is another concern the embassy is focusing on.

It has worked in partnership with the Vietnamese Government to identify ways to improve gender equality in the revised Labour Code, such as levelling the retirement age for men and women and strengthening sexual harassment provisions. This work is ongoing in 2018 and aims to improve conditions for women in the workplace and remove barriers to their participation in the economy.

There were important achievements made in 2017 in building the capacity of women to be future leaders and decision makers in Vietnam, as 70% of Australia Awards scholarships for study in Australia were presented to women, and the embassy formalised a partnership with GELead at the Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration to help integrate gender-equitable leadership concepts into their curriculum. When Vietnam hosted the APEC meetings in 2017, the embassy supported its successful chairing of the APEC Women and Economy Forum in Hue. To finish the year on a high note, the flagship women’s economic empowerment program, Aus4Equality, was launched on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders Week in Danang last November. The program aims to empower women in the agriculture and tourism sectors in Vietnam’s north-western mountainous area.

‘Vietnam is one of Australia’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific,’ said Ambassador Chittick. ‘Over the past 45 years our two countries have built a strong partnership that now encompasses political exchange, economic development, security cooperation, and innovation collaboration. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in 2018 with a program ranging from cultural to trade and economic events.’/.

  ( VNF/The Guide )
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