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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Han Ngoc Nguyen

I have been an English educator in both the Victorian private and public education sectors, working with a range of primary and secondary-aged students. 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 in my teaching practice, I promote and champion diversity within the discipline of English, and Footscray Primary School’s Vietnamese bilingual program was the foundation to this teaching philosophy. The Vietnamese bilingual program needs to be maintained for future generations to uphold the fundamental Vietnamese character integral to Footscray’s diverse community.”

  • Han Ngoc Nguyen


"Lack of language teachers is constantly thrown around by schools when staffing becomes inconvenient. As a language teacher myself I have seen this happen. Vietnamese is incredibly important to the Footscray and wider Western suburbs community - a bilingual program should be valued saved at all costs. It benefits every single student in a number of ways."

  • Amanda Wareham 


"The importance of a bilingual program of this cannot be understated. Having not grown up with a program like this has hurt me in many ways. I mourn the years of learning and appreciating my culture through the intrinsic foundation of Vietnamese language. I now am learning slowly and painfully how to speak and understand in Vietnamese and fighting with my Anglo Catholic school upbringing that gave me options in French, Italian and (thankfully) Japanese. I am now healing from the scars of self hatred towards being Vietnamese and reconnecting and hastily collecting the family stories that I can understand from my last living grandparent. This will cause so much hurt if this cycle is broken."

  • Michelle Dang


Hi, my name is Mark. I have a son, Diego who attends FPS. We are so disappointed with the decision to terminate the Vietnamese bilingual program. We were so excited to learn about the program when Diego enrolled two years ago. Diego speaks and learns Vietnamese at home with his Vietnamese mother. We were also excited that our second son, Oscar would also be a part of this when he enrolls in a few years, but sadly, at thia stage, it's not to be. We were astounded when we learned that Italian had been chosen to replace Vietnamese. What an awful decision. We sincerely hope that the efforts you're making are successful.

Mark Ford and Mai

News update

SUPPORT A VIETNAMESE BILINGUAL PRIMARY SCHOOL PROGRAM IN THE WEST! 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 LE...

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Housing a sense of self: for migrant communities, bilingual school programs are about more than learning

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Footscray Primary School's decision to change its bilingual teaching from Vietnamese to Italian has parents and teachers grappling with what a bilingual program needs to be successful.

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Footscray Primary School (FPS) and the Victorian Department of Education (DET) should reconsider the termination of the last Vietnamese bilingual program in Australia as it would be a great disservice to the students of Footscray Primary School and commun...

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“Many Vietnamese had been considered not good enough as teachers,” says Chau Cong, who left the school in 2018 after 15 years running the program. “That was the reason many left. They weren’t valued.”

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