Opening of Canberra Ngunnawal Room Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

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Subjects: Canberra Ngunnawal Room opening at Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam; Australia/Vietnam relationship; Australia Awards scholarships; New Colombo Plan

Pham Lan Dung: Your Excellency, Senators, Honourable Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Commonwealth of Australia. Your Excellency, Ambassador Robyn Mudie, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Vietnam. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I warmly welcome you all to the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. Today we celebrate the opening of the Canberra Ngunnawal Room as one of the main reading rooms in our newly renovated library. Cooperation between Vietnam and Australia, between the two foreign ministries and between DAV and the Australian Embassy in Hanoi has been established quite long and continues to develop, and over the past years we have enjoyed great collaboration and assistance from the Australian Embassy and other Australian partners in our education, training and research activities. And this Canberra Ngunnawal Room is vivid evidence and further build up for the increasingly close ties between the two countries. Allow me on behalf of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam to express our sincere thanks to Ambassador Robyn Mudie and the Embassy for your sponsorship and coordination without which this would not happen. And we are especially honoured and fortunate to have here today, Her Excellency Senator Honourable Marise Payne and her delegation. May I now have the honour to invite her Honourable Minister to make remarks before we proceed to cutting the ribbon to open our library. Please.

Marise Payne: Thank you. Thank you very much Ms Dung. Thank you for the hospitality that you have shown to me, Mr Son in being here today and of course, Her Excellency, Australia's Ambassador to Vietnam, Robyn Mudie. It is a very great honour to be here today at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam to officially open this Canberra Ngunnawal Room. Ngunnawal is the name of the traditional owners of the land upon which Canberra in Australia is built, and traditionally we pay our respects to their elders, past and present and emerging.

The Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam plays a special and significant role in Vietnam's foreign policy establishment. As a tertiary institution focused on training the next generation of Vietnam's diplomats, analysts and other officials working in international affairs, the Academy is a cornerstone in building Vietnam's diplomatic capacity. And as a research-oriented think tank home to many of Vietnam's and the wider region's most astute strategic thinkers, the Academy plays a key role in advancing our understanding of the rapidly evolving dynamics of the Indo-Pacific and how to navigate those rapidly evolving dynamics. I'm very pleased that the strong ties between the Academy and Australia continue to grow, both in terms of institutional links between, with Australian think tanks and universities and particularly the personal connections that many Academy officers have with Australia as alumni of Australian universities.

I'm very proud that Australia is supporting this current upgrade to the Academy's campus facilities by contributing to the renovation of this reading room, which looks truly beautiful, truly beautiful. This continues a path that has been at the heart of Australia's relationship with Vietnam for at least the past 47 years as two countries that place significant value on education. Our education links began very early with Australian government funded scholarships to Vietnam in 1974, when the bilateral partnership was established. Since then, the Australian government has seen almost 6,500 scholarships go to Vietnamese citizens. That's 6,500 really special friendships with Australia.

I'm pleased to announce that this year the Australian government will fund 60 prestigious Australia Awards scholarships to Vietnam, ten of which will be delivered through the Mekong-Australia Partnership. Australia Awards are prestigious transformational scholarships offered to emerging leaders from across the Indo-Pacific region. I think maybe some of those emerging leaders are in the room with us today with the young men and women who are over there near the window. They support the next generation of global leaders by giving them opportunity to study in Australia's universities. Many Australian awards alumni are leaders in their fields and have made valuable contributions to Vietnam's development.

I mentioned earlier the explanation of the room that we've chosen for the reading room, the Canberra Ngunnawal Room. The Ngunnawal people lived in Canberra for tens of thousands of years and continue to do so. As I said, our use of the name Ngunnawal acknowledges those traditional owners. It also conveys respect for continuing culture and the ongoing contribution they make to the city of Canberra and to the surrounding region. And so around the walls, as I've had an opportunity to see this afternoon, there is some beautiful Australian artwork to help to decorate the room, including a number of works by Indigenous Australian artists and a number of works by Indigenous women artists as well, importantly. We also have supplied a selection of books about Australian history, politics and society and perspectives on international affairs and the Indo-Pacific region. So I'm very confident being here this afternoon that this room has a lovely, positive feel. Just by walking in, I know that. And I know that current and future Academy students will find the Canberra Ngunnawal Room a useful resource in which to undertake their studies and I'm equally confident that the room will continue as a visible symbol of the growing friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Australia.

Our people-to-people links are indivisible. 6,500 Vietnamese students have come to Australia. Now, we send New Colombo Plan students to Vietnam. Those New Colombo Plan students come here with such brightness, such enthusiasm, such opportunity ahead of them. I'm immensely proud of that programme and I look forward to it restarting next year once the worst of COVID is behind us. Thank you very much.

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