CLSNathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen (2015). Memory in the Aftermath of War: Australian Responses to the Vietnamese Refugee Crisis of 1975. Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue Canadienne Droit et Société, 30, pp 183-201. doi:10.1017/cls.2015.21.


This article interweaves the personal and archival by exploring the intersection of official Australian records on the fall of Saigon and government handling of Vietnamese refugees in 1975 with my family history. As transitional justice addresses the legacies of human rights violations including the displacement and resettlement of refugees in post-conflict contexts, Australian responses to the Vietnamese refugee crisis of 1975 provide a relevant case study. Drawing on a wide range of archival documentation at the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia, including policy papers, Senate findings, confidential cables, ministerial submissions, private correspondence and photographs, I trace the effect of government decisions on Vietnamese refugees seeking asylum. In the process I reveal actions by senior bureaucrats and in particular by then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam that are largely unknown. Combining archival research with personal history enables me to not only shed light on past actions of governance and uncover past injustice but also explore the enduring impact of government decision-making on individual lives.

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