MEDIA RELEASE: Cancellation of the 50th Anniversary Service at Long Tan, by Minister For Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Julie Bishop MP and The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

17 August 2016

The Vietnamese Government has advised the Australian Government that it will not permit the ceremony to commemorate Vietnam Veteran’s Day at the Long Tan cross site at 15:30 on 18 August to proceed.

An official party including the Australian and New Zealand ambassadors will lay a wreath and we understand small groups will still have access to the site on the day.

The Government is deeply disappointed at this decision, and the manner in which it was taken, so close to the commemoration service taking place.

Australia’s Ambassador has registered our deep concerns with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Government is seeking urgent calls with Vietnamese counterparts at the most senior levels to register our concerns.

Australia has been working closely with Vietnamese authorities for 18 months to prepare for this event. Memorial events have been held at Long Tan since 1989.

Australian veterans and their families had planned to attend a ceremony at Long Tan marked by mutual respect to remember and honour the sacrifice of those lost in the Vietnam War from both sides.

For many veterans, this would have been their first visit to Vietnam since the war. For the more than one thousand Australians who have travelled to Vietnam to attend the 50th anniversary memorial service this is bitterly disappointing news.

The Vietnam Veterans’ Association and the Vietnam Veterans’ Federation have been briefed by the Government on the decision taken by the Vietnamese Government. The SmartTraveller website has been updated. Travellers requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the 24 hour consular line on +61 2 6261 3305.

Media Contacts:

Foreign Minister’s Office – Rachel Obradovic 0478 488 874
Minister Tehan’s office – Byron Vale 0428 262 894

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.