Quynh Dao has lived a very grateful life. Grateful for the opportunities she was given by Footscray Institute of Technology (FIT). And, most importantly, grateful to the Australian people who showed nothing but kindness to her when she arrived among the first 'boat people' in 1979.
After the end of the Vietnam War, which saw the Communist regime take over the Republic, life took a dramatic turn for Quynh and her family, who had lived a relatively 'regular' life in a small town in the south of Vietnam. Quynh saw her teachers, neighbours and other people suspected of being former members or supporters of the South Vietnam Military Forces taken away and never come back.
Quynh and her family managed to escape in 1979 by boat and found themselves at a refugee camp in Malaysia. Unlike current detention centres, Quynh recalls the process was "relatively quick and we received our approval in three months".