THE National Vietnam Veterans Museum on Phillip Island will receive $250,000 from the State Government for a new roof and car park, but it’s just the beginning – the venue has plans a $35 million development.
Last week’s funding announcement comes as the museum prepares to commemorate a defining chapter in Australia’s military history.
“As we prepare to mark 50 years since the Battle of Long Tan, we should remember and learn from those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Minister for Veterans John Eren said last week.
“The National Vietnam Veterans Museum ensures more Victorians can learn about our role in Vietnam.
“Our veterans protected us and it’s our job to protect their legacy.
“They were treated unfairly on their return to Australia. It’s time we recognised the service of these men and women.
“This investment ensures future generations will be able to learn about a war that touched our nation.”
The National Vietnam Veterans Museum in Phillip Island welcomes 20,000 visitors every year, and it’s mainly thanks to 20 years of veteran donations and volunteer work.
The museum first opened in San Remo in 1998.
It moved to its present site at Veterans Drive, Newhaven in 2007.
As its name would suggest, it is Australia’s largest museum of its type, yet it hasn’t received Federal funding.
The museum received $40,000 from the State Government two years ago to develop a long term strategy.
The vision for 2025 is for the venue to develop from a military collection into a fully accredited museum.
“The future is looking good,” the museum’s Gary Parker said.
“We have more groups coming through, including school groups, and when they’ve been once, they keep coming back every year.”
Chairman of the museum’s board of directors, Kingsley Mundey, said the announcement was timely.
“250,000 makes an enormous difference to a humble organisation like this.
“The volunteers in this organisation have worked very hard. From its modest beginnings, it has been built with passion, blood, sweat, tears and their own money.
“This grant will allow us to build a new car park and roof – this is not a handout, it’s a hand up.
“It’s something quite remarkable for us and we really appreciate it.
“This is just the beginning for us. It’s a down-payment for our future plans.”
Almost 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1973, and 521 were killed.
Victorians paused recently to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day, held on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Next year, we mark the 50th anniversary of the famous battle, where 108 young men from D Company 6 RAR encountered the Viet Cong in a rubber plantation outside the Australian base at Nui Dat.
With accurate field artillery support and reinforcement from A and B company, the Australians resisted an attack of more than 1500 Viet Cong soldiers in one of the most extraordinary chapters in our history.
The Labor Government’s 2015-16 Victorian Budget provides $1 million to host a Vietnam Veterans’ Parade commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and associated commemorative activities.