THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA
THE HON MATT KEOGH MP
Minister for VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
18 August 2023
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam WAR
Today our nation will pause to mark Vietnam Veterans’ Day, the key commemoration in this 50th anniversary year of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Thousands of Australians will gather at the Vietnam Forces Memorial in Canberra, and across the country, to honour the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans.
On 18 August 1966, Australians and New Zealanders were outnumbered 10 to one in the battle of Long Tan.
It was the single greatest loss of life Australia suffered during the Vietnam War - 18 Australians were killed and 24 were wounded.
In the years that followed, Vietnam veterans gathered to commemorate those lost at Long Tan.
Now we gather on 18 August each year to mark Vietnam Veterans’ Day, paying tribute to all those who served in Australia’s longest conflict of the 20th century.
60,000 Australian personnel served in Vietnam over more than a decade, which sadly resulted in 523 lives lost, and some 3,000 wounded. For their service, and the sacrifices of their families, we say thank you.
Quotes attributable to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP:
“This year, as we mark the 50th anniversary since the role of Australian troops in the hostilities in Vietnam came to a close, we acknowledge the service and sacrifice made by our veterans.
“Their experiences during and after the war are a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have served our country and the debt of gratitude we owe each and every one of our veterans.
“Many of our troops returned to face new battles at home and not every one of those battles was won – it is important as Australians we know the stories of service in Vietnam and what our veterans faced when returned home.
“We honour you, we thank you and we are so sorry it took us so long as a nation to do so.”
Quotes attributed to Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh MP:
“When we speak of the Anzac spirit, we speak of having your mates backs, no matter how dire the circumstances.
“But when our veterans returned home from Vietnam many felt unsupported, unrecognised.
“In marking 50 years since the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, we honour and thank all those who served, and the sacrifices of their families.
“You have made your nation proud.”
For veterans and families this day may be an emotional time and lead to feelings of distress. You are encouraged to include the contact information for Open Arms Veterans and Families Counselling in your stories. Open Arms is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 or visit OpenArms.gov.au.
To acknowledge the 50th anniversary the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has produced a Commemorative Medallion and Certificate of Commemoration, available to every Vietnam veteran, and the families of Vietnam veterans who have passed away.
For more information about the 50th anniversary or to apply for a commemorative medallion, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website: dva.gov.au/vietnam50