2nd October 2020

Today 23 academics, 23 educators, 14 community leaders, 76 current/former/future parents and students of Footscray Primary School, and concerned citizens have co-signed the following letter to the Victorian Minister Education James Merlino asking that moves towards axing the Vietnamese bilingual program at Footscray Primary School be halted immediately.

Full letter text below. You can view the original letter here. To add your name to the open letter please email: parentoffps@gmail.com

The Hon. James Merlino MP

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education
Level 3, 1 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne VIC 3002

Dear Minister Merlino,

We thank you for…

This campaign asks the Minister and the Victorian Education Department to not abolish the only Vietnamese bilingual program in Australia, a means of providing more equitable long-term pathway options for community languages.

While parents and teachers were adjusting to COVID-19 lockdown, the School Council of Footscray Primary decided to abolish the only Vietnamese bilingual program in the nation, without any community consultation. This is a significant loss to the school community and city of Footscray.


August 26 — School terminates the Veitnamese bilingual program without community consultation.

October — Following community advocacy Minister reinstates program.

December — School loses 2 Vietnamese teachers and recruits 4 new Vietnamese teachers for 2017.


Additional Department 2 year funding begins.

School begins bilingual education from Grade 2 (previously from Foundation).

No efforts are made to recruit new Vietnamese teachers.


December — School loses 4 Vietnamese teachers, including the bilingual coordinator. School recruits 1 new Vietnamese teacher for 2019.


March 15 — Independent School Operations Review (including bilingual program) Report submitted to Department. …

Footscray Primary School (FPS) and the Victorian Department of Education (DET) should reconsider the termination of the last Vietnamese bilingual program in Australia as it would be a great disservice to the students of Footscray Primary School and community languages in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Through gathering extensive evidence obtained from the DET, experts from the US, conversations with linguists, past teachers, and parents of FPS too scared to speak out, has led us to the conclusion that:

  1. FPS has not implemented Vietnamese bilingual best practices
  2. FPS has not retained Vietnamese teachers
  3. FPS has not engaged with the Vietnamese community
  4. A…

Vietnamese language education began at Footscray Primary School as a mother-tongue maintenance program in 1985. It transitioned to a bilingual program in 1997. The program has won a High Commendation in the National Literacy and Numeracy Week Awards in 2007 and the 2008 Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence in Education. No other Victorian bilingual school has changed its foundational bilingual language.

Maribyrnong LGA Census 2016
Language spoken at home
Italian 1.8%
Vietnamese 11.9%

Victorian LOTE schools (1518 total)
Italian 246 (16.2%)
Vietnamese 10 (0.01%)

There is also one Italian bilingual school in Victoria (Brunswick South Primary School), and this…

Parents of FPS

We’re a group of parents who want to save the Vietnamese bilingual program at Footscray Primary School

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