The Co Vang will fly in Brimbank.

Rapturous applause reverberated through Brimbank’s council chambers last week as a large contingent of the Vietnamese community celebrated a council decision to allow the flag to be flown during times of special significance to the Australian-Vietnamese community.

The viewing gallery was standing room only as the community members showed up in force to watch the council decide to officially recognise the flag as a symbol of the Vietnamese-Australian community and its refugee experiences.

Cr Duyen Anh Pham said the flag symbolised the fight for freedom and democracy for many people from the former South Vietnam.

“Brimbank as a city has a significant portion of Australians of a Vietnamese background,” she said. “According to census figures, over 13 per cent of Brimbank residents have a Vietnamese background.

“Standing to be a councillor in local government, we act on what our people want and need and this is what our people want.”

Cr Georgina Papafotiou was the sole councillor to speak against the council officer recommendation to recognise the flag.

“In Brimbank, we have over 160 different nationalities, which means we have over 160 official flags,” Cr Papafotiou said.

“Each culture has significant days where their official flag could be flown and recognised.

“I have high respect for our Vietnamese community and recognise their struggles … but I will have to abstain from voting today which means I cannot vote for, but I won’t vote against, this recommendation.

“What we start doing for one culture within our municipality, we must do for all the other cultures.

“I have concerns that once we start flying one flag, it may create political issues with other cultures within our community.”

Cr Pham disagreed with Cr Papafotiou’s sentiments.

“The Co Vang flag is not a country flag, but it is a flag that the community who live in Brimbank believe in,” she said. “It’s a symbolic flag. It represents their call for freedom and identity.”