In the late 1970s and 1980s, many Vietnamese refugees arriving in Adelaide were temporarily housed in the former Pennington Migrant hostel, and they attended English lessons at the nearby Pennington Primary School. Ms Rose Ashton taught some of these lessons between 1980 and 1984, and was presented with this model boat as a gift of gratitude from her students in 1984. Rose also taught knitting in these lessons, as many of the parents wanted to knit warmer clothing for their children.
According to testimony from Ms Ashton’s students, the fishing boats used to bring refugees were always crowded, with people sitting knee to chest, out in the open in all weathers, and very vulnerable to pirates. It has been estimated that up to half the boats that departed were lost at sea, meaning that many Vietnamese people in Australia still mourn lost family and friends.
The maker of the boat requested to remain anonymous, and his model remains a poignant and vivid reminder of the Vietnamese refugee experience.