From ‘Boat Refugee’ to South Australian Governor

Premier Jay Weatherill has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of Mr Hieu Van Le AO as the next Governor of South Australia, beginning 2nd of September this year.

Mr Le will succeed His Excellency Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, who has served in the role since August 2007.

Professor Brenda Wilson, Chief Executive of the Cancer Council of South Australia will be appointed as Lieutenant Governor of South Australia, succeeding Mr Le.

Mr Weatherill said Mr Le’s appointment heralds an historic moment for South Australia.

“It is a great honour to announce that Mr Hieu Van Le will be South Australia’s 35th Governor – the first Asian migrant to rise to the position of Governor in our State’s history,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Mr Le has a story of great significance to South Australia – from arriving as a boat person in 1977, advancing his education, establishing a family, rising through the ranks of business and community leadership, to becoming the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia.

“Now, the next chapter in Mr Le’s incredible journey will be written when he is sworn in as Governor of South Australia in September.

“He has already demonstrated an outstanding level of service to the community and I have no doubt that he will serve the role with great distinction – as he has done in the role of Lieutenant Governor since 2007.”

At the time of his appointment as Lieutenant Governor, Mr Le was regarded as the first Vietnamese-born person in the world who had been appointed to a Vice Regal position.

Mr Le said that he was deeply honoured, and at the same time, extremely humbled to be appointed to the position.

As a young “boat people” refugee, I arrived here 36 years ago with nothing but an invisible suitcase filled with dreams. A dream to live in a peaceful, safe and free country and to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

“But to be bestowed with the greatest honour and the privilege of holding the Vice-Regal office is absolutely beyond my wildest dream.

“This appointment, however, says much more about our society than about me – It sends a powerful message affirming our inclusive and egalitarian society.

“At the same time, this appointment represents a powerful symbolic acknowledgement of the contributions that all migrants and refugees have made and continuing to make to our State.

“I strongly believe that this appointment also sends a positive message to people in many countries in the world, and in particular, our neighbouring countries in Asia Pacific region, of the inclusive and vibrant multicultural society of South Australia.”

Professor Brenda Wilson will be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor in August 2014.

Mr Weatherill has also thanked Rear Admiral Scarce for his work.

“His Excellency and Mrs Scarce have been outstanding advocates for South Australia in their roles,” he said.

“I know many South Australians appreciate the contribution His Excellency has made as patron of more than 200 charities and organisations across the state.

“He has been tireless in his efforts to support the economic and social wellbeing of South Australians.”

Further information regarding the swearing in ceremonies of Professor Wilson and Mr Le will be announced in the coming weeks.


Hieu Van Le AO

  • Was born in Quang Tri, Central Vietnam in 1954 (aged 60)
  • Is married to Lan, who came with him on the boat from Vietnam and they have two sons, Don and Kim (named after cricketers Don Bradman and Kim Hughes)
  • Holds a Degree in Economics and Accountancy and a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Adelaide
  • Is a member of the Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) and from 1991 has worked at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as the Senior Manager – Financial Services Regulation until his retirement in March 2009
  • Is a Patron or Honorary member of more than 30 organisations and an Ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation, Australian Refugee Association and the Adelaide Convention Bureau
  • He was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia (A.O.) – on Australia Day 2010.
  • He was awarded with:
    • the Australia Day Medal for outstanding service to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
    • Australian Centenary Medal “for service to the advancement of multiculturalism in Australia” in 2001
    • Honorary Doctorate for service to the society – awarded by the University of Adelaide in 2008 and by Flinders University in 2011
  • He will commence his term as Governor of South Australia on 2 September 2014.

 PHOTO: Hieu Van Le AO launching Salt Magazine in October 2013

SALT Magazine is an African-Australian Community News Magazine, created to provide print and online news and information on a broad range of issues of interest to the African community in Australia as well as to the wider general public. Our main aim is to act as a platform for the voice of the new and emerging African Australian communities, providing an African perspective to Australian topics. We wish to highlight African refugee success stories and encourage community development by exploring the challenges faced by new arrivals.

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