Much has been said about Malcolm Fraser’s courageous support of refugees, particularly Vietnamese refugees, since his passing on Friday.
SSI’s own Thanh Nguyen, Manager Early Intervention & Capacity Building, gives thanks to Mr Fraser for granting him and his family protection in Australia in the 1970s. “He did Vietnamese families, including my own, a huge service,” he said. “He allowed my family to make a life here.”
Mr Nguyen fled Vietnam by boat with his family at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 when he was eight years old, due to fear of persecution. “Our boat broke down at sea, but luckily everyone on board was rescued by a passing foreign merchant ship and taken to a refugee camp in Hong Kong,” says Mr Nguyen.
“My father applied for us to be accepted as refugees by Australia. The then-Prime Minister Malcom Fraser's, and his government’s, decision to accept Vietnamese refugees changed the life course of my family and the many other Vietnamese people who were welcomed, embraced and provided with safe haven.
“If it had not been for Malcom Fraser’s refugee program, my family may have spent years languishing in the refugee camp in Hong Kong. I’m not sure where we would have ended up. When I think of Malcom Fraser, I feel immense gratitude.
“His passing fills me with sadness.”
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis also has great respect for Mr Fraser. “Malcolm Fraser was a complex man who walked the talk when it came to valuing the worth and importance of vulnerable people," she said.
“His voice was one of reason, compassion and sensitivity in relation to refugees and asylum seekers, the value of multiculturalism and the principles of standing up for those who were voiceless.
“SSI and many organisations working with the vulnerable, such as ours, have gained courage from Malcolm Fraser's convictions and voice. His legacy will live on in every refugee and asylum seeker who is given the opportunity to start a new life in Australia and live the life they want to live.”