Australian Vietnam Veterans Reconstruction Group
The Hoa Long School. [Image courtesy of John Newman]
The Australian Vietnam Veterans Reconstruction Group (AVVRG) was established in 1994 by a veteran of the war, Paul Murphy. On a visit to Ba Ria-Vung Tau, as Phuoc Tuy is now known, Murphy was moved by the poverty and the terrible state of the country’s infrastructure almost two decades after the end of the war. With a continuing embargo by the United States and other western countries, Vietnam remained mired in poverty, unable to recover from a war whose aftermath had involved further fighting in Cambodia and a brief conflict with China in 1979.
After contacting the local People’s Committee and identifying areas of need Murphy launched an Australia-wide fundraising programme to support projects in south Vietnam. Today the AVVRG counts among its members veterans of the war, members of their families and others who had no direct involvement in the conflict.
The AVVRG’s projects have included the installation of septic toilets at Long Tan as well as the establishment of medical and dental facilities. The organisation has also helped construct schools and orphanages; it has carried out agricultural and aquaculture projects, mostly in the areas in which Australians fought, but also in other parts of Vietnam. Members of the group also sponsor individual Vietnamese children, health care teams conduct regular visits to Vietnam and a busy program of activities shows the AVVRG’s commitment to helping a country in which Australians once fought.