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Vietnamese Boat People Memorial

Red Gum Park / Karrawirra (Park 12)

On 30th of April 1975, the North Vietnamese Communist Forces completed the invasion of South Vietnam with “The Fall of Saigon”.

The South Vietnamese government was dismantled, families torn apart and millions persecuted. More than 1.5 million Vietnamese escaped the bloodshed and turmoil, between 1975 and 1995. Fleeing in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, they became known as the Vietnamese Boat People.

Braving open seas, these refugees experienced hunger, dehydration and pirate attacks. Hundreds of thousands died, while many survivors were sent away after reaching nearby countries. Eventually, temporary refugee camps in Southeast Asia were established, giving them makeshift protections. Pursuing for peace and freedom, many later settled in western countries including Australia.

The first Vietnamese Boat People docked at Darwin Harbour on 26th of April 1976. This was the first time Australia welcomed new arrivals from outside of Europe, since the abolition of the ‘White Australia’ Policy. In the following ten years, over 80,000 Vietnamese people settled in Australia.

Nowadays, more than 350,000 Vietnamese Australians proudly stand alongside the other refugees and migrants from around the world who call Australia home, and contribute to our rich cultural diversity and economic strength.

‘Guiding Light — Ánh Sáng Soi Đường’ Artwork
A generational story reflected upon by two Vietnamese Australian children. Their conversation describes a journey marred with war and peril but fuelled by hope. The release of the Lotus flower expresses optimism for the future, while evoking reflection on a generation’s courage and sacrifice.
The beacon on the horizon beckons a new beginning, a shelter, a home. When darkness falls its light casts a path to a place of freedom and opportunity. A flame forever burning in remembrance of loved ones lost or left behind.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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