The loss of the only Vietnamese bilingual program

The decision to terminate the program was made in April this year in a closed meeting, when the new administration was barely one school-term into its role. It was also the start of COVID-19 lockdown, when parents and community members were struggling to adapt to the pandemic

If a second Italian bilingual school is to be established, why should it come at the expense of the only Vietnamese bilingual program, located at the heart of the Vietnamese community in Victoria?

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Next week I will be moving a motion on Maribyrnong Council in support of a Vietnamese bilingual primary school program in the West. As part of this campaign, we have also sent a PUBLIC LETTER to all Councillors in Maribyrnong and Brimbank Councils, and all local state and federal MPs (below). *** Please circulate this PUBLIC LETTER widely & attend the PUBLIC MEETING, Saturday 3pm December 19th, Register to attend:
Public Statement & Letter to Local Members of Parliament & Councillors
Local State Members of Parliament
Katie Hall MP for Footscray, Natalie Suleyman MP for St Albans, Melissa Horne MP for Williamstown
Local Federal Members of Parliament
Daniel Mulino MP for Fraser, Tim Watts MP for Gellibrand, Bill Shorten MP for Maribyrnong
Maribyrnong Councillors & Mayor
Cr Anthony Tran, Cr Sarah Carter, Cr Cuc Lam, Cr Bernadette Thomas, Cr Simon Crawford, Cr Jorge Jorquera & Mayor elect Michael Clarke
Brimbank Councillors & Mayor
Cr Victoria Borg, Cr Sarah Branton, Cr Thuy Dang, Cr Jasmine Nguyen, Cr Sam David, Cr Trung Luu, Cr Virginia Tachos, Cr Jae Papalia, Cr Bruce Lancashire, Cr Maria Kerr & Mayor elect Ranka Rasic
Dear Members and Councillors,
The loss of one of the very few bilingual primary school programs in Australia has been heartfelt by the community of Western Melbourne. Regrettably, this year Footscray Primary School (FPS) chose to close their Vietnamese Bilingual Program, after many years of success both as an enrichment to the Victorian and Australian Curriculum, and in supporting the learning of Vietnamese background children and the preservation of culture and celebration of multiculturalism. Vietnamese is a growing language in Victoria, Australia and internationally, the largest ancestry group in the West of Melbourne, and the fifth most spoken language in Victoria and Australia.
As you may be aware, there has been a very large community outcry and campaign to reinstate the Vietnamese Program at FPS. A petition started from within the school parent community in August gathered over 17,000 signatures, and there have been numerous articles in the media and meetings with politicians and government offices.
The fact that this program has been closed down and no plans made for an equivalent program anywhere in the Western suburbs, is an affront to cultural diversity and the very idea of an inclusive, equitable public education system.
The arguments made by the Education Department against the program rest solely on the notion that staffing for such a program is too difficult. Not only is this questionable, but more importantly it shows no commitment to the Department’s own stated goals in terms of improving educational outcomes in the “Education State”.
A large community of fellow Australians who live in a multicultural society identify with and are attached to Vietnam, its history, people and language. This decision to axe the Vietnamese bilingual program represents a loss for the Vietnamese community, the western suburbs of Melbourne, the Footscray Learning Precinct, multiculturalism, Asian literacies, the language community in Melbourne and therefore to us all. However, the biggest loss is suffered by the children of Vietnamese background whose identity, cognitive development, and familial bonds will be weakened. Ultimately their future prospects will be impacted.
We demand the Education Department be held accountable, and a plan for a Vietnamese bilingual primary school program in the Western suburbs be put in place.
Please consider and share with your community!
For further information contact:
Hoang Tran Nguyen, School Council member and parent at Footscray Primary School (0418 518 549)
Cr Jorge Jorquera, Maribyrnong Council and past President of Footscray Primary School Council (0416 200 922)


My experience with being a student at Footscray Primary School (1997 – 2003) has meant that I have had the unique opportunity to not only maintain my mother tongue, but witness my non-Vietnamese peers be exposed to a rich and beautiful language. Everyday....

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I truly feel for the local Footscray community where Vietnamese is an immediately relevant language, not only in many of the households but all through the retail precinct and community, allowing for a wonderful immersion program and the learning benefits...

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I support the Vietnamese bilingual program because I strongly believe that we need to fight for schools on Maribyrnong that are built on cultural diversity, communication and exchange. I want to see our local schools modelled on bringing families from dif...

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In Maribyrnong, Vietnamese continues to be the language most spoken at home other than English. Replacing Vietnamese with Italian, a European language, is not the way to go even if, as the school argues, an Italian program is easier to resource. It would....

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