A high-level delegation of policy makers from Vietnam visited Victoria from 16 to 20 September and were hosted by the Neighbourhood Justice Centre. As an International Mentor Community Court, the NJC welcomes opportunities to share learnings.
Led by Major General Vu Xuan Dung, the delegation included representatives from Vietnam’s Ministries of Public Security, Labour—Invalids and Social Affairs, Health, Justice and the Department of Social Affairs of Vietnam’s National Assembly Office.
The visit was arranged in the context of Vietnam embarking on a new round reforms relating to national law enforcement and social order infrastructure policy.
The visiting officials play key roles in law and policy development relating to vulnerable people such as drug users, sex workers and victims of domestic violence. ‘Neighbourhood policing’, as it is colloquially referred to in Vietnam, was strong theme of the visit.
The delegation was sponsored by the Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI), a Vietnamese non-Government Organisation (NGO) that works to improve the lives of marginalised people in Vietnam, with funding from Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Executive Director of SCDI Dr Khuat Thi Hai Oanh accompanied the delegation. She chose Australia for this important study tour “because of the partnership between the two countries, the appreciation from the Vietnamese people of Australian people, and the humanity and pragmatism in your laws and practices”.
A program was developed by the NJC in consultation with SCDI, in Dr Khuat’s words, “to inform and inspire policy reform in Vietnam in a positive direction”.
Key justice sector stakeholders contributed to vibrant and informative sessions with the over the five day visit.
Law enforcement and community policing dialogue was led by City of Yarra Area Police Inspector Anne Rudd and included a visit to the Collingwood All Stars Program, a police-run local children’s sports program, and a tour of Richmond Police Station.
Family violence reform, an area earmarked for significant policy review and development in Vietnam, was presented by Lisa Eldridge from MCV’s Family Violence Policy and Practice unit. This stimulated lively discussion with Victoria Police presenters about operational policing of family violence.
Delegates further benefited from observing court proceedings, including the Alcohol Diversion List at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court and criminal list at the NJC. They had discussions with Magistrates Pauline Spencer, Tony Parsons and David Fanning on a wide range of key topics.
Other specialists contributed to the program, including Professor Nicole Lee from 360 Edge speaking about methamphetamine use and treatment and Associate Professor Suzi Neilson explaining methadone maintenance treatment and the use of ‘take-away’ dosing.
The delegation was also welcomed into discussions about innovative, peer-driven and health-focused support for sex industry workers courtesy of a visit to Resourcing Health and Education in the Victorian Sex Industry (RhED) in St Kilda.
The final day of the delegation’s visit included a meeting with Mr Rob Hulls, Director of the RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice and former Attorney General of Victoria. In the closing meeting with NJC General Manager Rachel Powning, Magistrate Fanning, delegate Nguyen Xuan Lap from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs praised the professionalism, sophistication and responsiveness of justice sector stakeholders he had met during the visit and expressed gratitude to all who had met with the delegation and assisted its study tour.
Thu Bui (local Vietnamese interpreter), Colonel Vu Huy Khanh (Deputy Director, Department of Legislation and Justice Reform, Ministry of Public Security), Colonel Bui Thi Ngoc Anh (Head, Joint staff, Department of Administrative Management for Public Order), Mr. Phung Quang Thuc (Director, Sub-Department of Social Vices Prevention, Hanoi), Major General Vu Xuan Dung (Director, Department of Administrative Management for Public Order, Ministry of Public Security), Acting Sergeant Pheobe Garside, Richmond Police Station, Victoria Police), Dr Khuat Thi Hai Oanh (Executive Director, Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives), Ms Rachel Powning (General Manager, Neighbourhood Justice Centre), Inspector Anne Rudd, Yarra Local Area Command, Victoria Police), Dr Do Huy Thuy (Deputy Head, Department of Harm Reduction, Vietnam Administration on AIDS control, Ministry of Health), Ms Nguyen Thanh Ha (Deputy Director, Department of Administrative Sanctions, Ministry of Justice), Mr Jay Jordens (Neighbourhood Justice Officer, NJC), Major General Vu Ngoc Lan (Deputy Director, Department of Foreign Relations, Ministry of Public Security), Mr. Nguyen Xuan Lap, (Director, Department of Social Vices Prevention, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), Mr Nguyen Ngoc Thanh (Staff, Department of Social Affairs, National Assembly Office).