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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Our Story

On July 30th 2020, a newsletter from the Principal was sent to parents and guardians of the decision to abolish the long standing and well-respected Vietnamese bilingual immersion program at Footscray Primary School (FPS). Vietnamese will be replaced by Italian in the  bilingual program at school in 2021FPS is the only Vietnamese bilingual school in Victoria. So School made a big mistake to abolish the unique program, a one of a kind program.

The reason given by the principal, that is the difficulty in recruitment qualified Vietnamese teachers. It is absolutely wrong. Vietnamese community with over 80,000 speakers in Victoria, is available to support and offer experienced and qualified Vietnamese language teachers.

Between the duration of 2016–2020, the school lost 8 Vietnamese teachers. With only 4 Vietnamese teachers left, it becomes impossible to fulfill the demands of the students.

We have seen evidence of a toxic culture and staff intimidation at the school.

Past teachers, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, have cited examples of humiliation, disrespect and deception. Teachers were made to feel unwanted and disposable.

Although struggling with the delivery of the bilingual program since 2016, the school failed to consult with the Vietnamese community to assist with its challenges. No consultation took place with the Vietnamese Community Australia — Vic (VCA) or the Victorian Vietnamese Teachers Association (VVTA).


In helping to green light the Italian bilingual program at Brunswick South Primary Minister Merlino said in, “I have always had a proud connection to my Italian heritage and it’s wonderful to be engaged with the Italian community.”

Will James Merlino give that same opportunity for parents who speak Vietnamese to their children at home and represent their voice like he has with his own heritage?

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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We need your support to retain Vietnamese bilingual program at Footscray primary school. Please contact us to contribute your voice and your skills:


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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