On the Queen’s birthday Indigo Willing became the recipient of a Medal in the Order of Australia in the General Division: ‘For service to the community through the establishment and administration of Adopted Vietnamese International’, Awarded by the Council for the Order of Australia and Approved by His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia AC CVO MC (Ret’d), June 2006. Nominators are kept confidential and the process takes up to two years for the council to research nominees before a decision is made.
Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) was officially launched in Australia on April 2000 on the 25th Anniversary of the end of the Viet Nam War. AVI grew in heart and nature from the input and inspiration of adoptees in Australia and overseas, as individuals and in peer groups. AVI’s mission is to learn from and offer support to adopted Vietnamese as they explore their sense of identity/ies, heritage and diversity. AVI also encourages the adopted Vietnamese community to share their experiences and nurture stronger relationships with their families, the wider trans-racial adoption community, the Vietnamese Diaspora and other cultural communities through community projects, research and online activities. Projects included a group return trip to Vietnam in 2001, a growing e-resource library on all things related to adoption from Vietnam, an e-group, a national list for Vietnamese war adoptees to register on, and a searching for birth parents guide and register.
In response to the award, Indigo wrote in 2006:
“There are so many people out there both within AVI’s volunteer network and in the wider adoption community combined who well and truly deserve this type of recognition. This award should be seen as a reflection, extension and shared nod to the hard work the whole adoption community has done to come together, to create positive bridges between the old and the new lives and communities they have, and to making new ways for future transnationally adoptive families to thrive in their diversity.
Within the Australian adopted Vietnamese community there are, of course, some very amazing people who really set out to make a difference and been inspirational to AVI. This includes Lynelle Beveridge, who began ICASN and Analee Matthews who acts as AVI’s national communications manager. Also, interstate adoptees like Tran Van Heeswyk and Saran Portolesi from South Australia and Sue-Yen Luiten-Bylund from Western Australia, who do the wonderful work of helping us keep adoptees all in touch with each other and their local communities. There is also the exciting art, screen writing, acting and directing of Dominic Golding who did the well reviewed play “Shrimp” recently and who aims to work as an art teacher in orphanages in Vietnam. Such people and their tireless work are inspirational to adoptees and general public alike.
Then, we are all so lucky to learn from so many brave individuals who, in emails, writing or through media interviews, have shared how adoption from Vietnam has shapes their lives. Some of these people include Veronica Stanley, Hoa Stone, Kim Paige, Jamie Fry, Faith Elzon, Jen Fitzpatrick, Jen Szeto, Shane Bolt, Suanne Prager, Martine Bach, Kiersten Wunderle, Kim Edgar, Emma Pham, Emma Brockett, Zion Mitchell and Christina Tinker-Casson. Plus there are those like Kym Blackwell, J Bradley, Kim Catford, Carmen Armstrong, Simon Keogh, as well as many others who are adopted Vietnamese war orphans in Australia who support the community with voluntary and generous offers of advice, friendship and support. Many of these people also regularly provide their time for mentor programs or f to help educate new and prospective adoptive parents whose children come from many other parts of the world. I am so very lucky to know them.
In addition, there are the people who are not adoptees but do much by contributing to the community’s ongoing pursuit of well being, freedom of identity and self-discovery – from former volunteers of the Babylift and adoptive parents to general supporters. It is important to acknowledge how we as adopted Vietnamese are part of this great community of people who help, care and truly value one another. It’s an honour to be a part, however large or small, of these special peoples lives”.