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Sense of Place, A (ATOM Study Guide)

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'Migrants are always in some sense "out of place" and they almost always attempt to create a space of being at home in a new place.'

Just over thirty years ago, the first wave of non-European refugees arrived in Australia. With their homeland falling apart around them, thousands of Vietnamese people fled with literally nothing, the majority of them were not looking for a new life by choice but rather an escape from chaos and uncertainty in their own country.

For many people, leaving was traumatic and escaping on a small boat made of timber often ended in tragedy. For those who made it, many without their families, a wait of many months in squalid camps followed before they were offered a new homeland in Australia.

Finding a sense of place in a new country was their next challenge. They might have been forced to leave their homeland but they had not forsaken their cultural values and beliefs. Did settling in Australia mean abandoning their cultural values and beliefs in order to forge a new identity in a new country? Or could their cultural values and beliefs co-exist with the values of their new country?

A Sense of Place introduces four Vietnamese Australians: Dominic Golding, a playwright; Sister Hue Can, a Buddhist nun; Alistair Trung, a fashion designer and Margaret Nyugen, a student, who arrived as refugees on Australian shores from 1975 to the early 1980s.

Though they may share common ground, individually these people vary in the strength of their connection to their Vietnamese culture and values. This difference has impacted on how they view themselves and the degree to which they have found their own 'sense of place' in Australia.

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