[Photo caption: Former CEO of Radio Australia, Hanh Tran (via LinkedIn) on Radio Australia.]

Radio Australia, 4 September 2015. Vale Hanh Tran – former CEO of Radio Australia.

Radio Australia reports that it is “very sad to share the news that Hanh Tran, former CEO of Radio Australia, passed away yesterday. He is survived by his three children, Liam and James, and Maya.

“In 2008 Hanh was interviewed for the Nexus program on ABC International’s television service. He tells his story of coming to Australia as a teenager as part of the Colombo Plan and his career at the ABC. Vale Hahn Tran.”

An edited extract of the original article appears below.


Hanh Tran was born in Hue, Vietnam. He is one of ten children.

During the war, if you can get out of the country by any means, you go. In my case, I got a scholarship, so it was a very, very good reason to leave the country, to leave the war behind.

He left Vietnam in 1972.

The scholarship was a very good one. It’s a Colombo Plan scholarship given to developing countries to go to Commonwealth countries to learn. I took forestry. As far as choosing which country to go, I didn’t have a lot of choice, mainly New Zealand, Canada and Australia. And, you know, I didn’t know much about either country, so just going go to Australia sounded like a good idea.

I came to Australia as an 18-year-old. I just launched into the degree course. I didn’t think much of what I’m going to do after four years in Australia. And then the war ended halfway through my degree. So, you know, I was in a bit of a crisis, cut off from family, but also wondering what’s going to happen with me. I became an asylum seeker. But the scholarship office allowed me to finish my degree. So soon after that I became naturalised Australian…

In 1990 Hanh met his future wife and returned to Vietnam. He hadn’t seen his family in eighteen years.

By that time, I had already made contact with my family. So I’m really keen to do something for Vietnam. And then the job with Radio Australia comes up. I really loved using the sound to describe, you know, to paint a picture, if you like. After two years, I became Head of Vietnamese Service at Radio Australia.

In 1997 Hanh moved to London with his growing family.

I went to the BBC, became Head of Vietnamese Service – the first non-British Head of Vietnamese Service. So I had four years.

He returned to Australia in 2001.

But then I had a young family that I had to bring back home for schooling. So I stayed home for five years as a full-time dad. I only returned to work, full-time work, about more than two years ago. And by that time, I was given a challenge. I became Head of Vietnamese Service at Radio Australia. My boss tapped me on the shoulder – “And I think you should apply. You have a very good chance.” Without that encouragement, I wouldn’t have applied.

I’m the Chief Executive Officer of Radio Australia. So I’m the voice of Australia to the region. I’m the first Asian to hold this post. But I don’t want to put too much emphasis on it. I’m not here because I’m just a symbol – I hope. And I think it’s really a burden for me to represent Australia without having to represent Vietnam as well. But I hope that I’m a bridge, I’m someone who can actually prove that people can move between cultures, across national boundaries, and doing the kind of thing that cements relations between people.

Interview first broadcast on Nexus in 2008.

Hanh passed away suddenly at home on September 3, 2015.  He is survived by his three children, Liam, James, and Maya and remembered by his colleagues as a leader and a friend.  Tributes and memories can be posted on the Radio Australia Facebook page. http://ausp.lu/1N6wdyD