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An image of the front door of the Museum of Chinese Australian History, a doorway flanked by two ornate statues

Partnering with community: the Museum of Chinese Australian History

For many years Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) has partnered with the Museum of Chinese Australian History (the Chinese Museum). Together, we have collaborated on projects as diverse as the development of culturally appropriate spaces and rituals through to the recognition of the contribution of Chinese Australian veterans through an ongoing Honour Roll project.

Based in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown on Little Bourke Street, the Chinese Museum is a vibrant not-for-profit organisation. They curate a collection of over 8,000 items which display Chinese Australian history and support understanding of Chinese culture and contribution in Melbourne. More information about the Chinese Museum can be found on their website.

Ongoing projects

SMCT is proud to partner with the Chinese Museum on a number of projects, including the exploration and development of the stories of Chinese Australians. This Honour Roll commemorates and records Australians with Chinese heritage who served during World War II. The Honour Roll contains information about each individual’s contribution to the war effort, as well as information transcribed from original records. This database is continually upgraded as more information is uncovered.

Previously SMCT and the Chinese Museum worked together on the launch of For Honour and Country: Victorian Chinese Australians in World War II, a book highlighting personal stories of Chinese Australian veterans.

The Chinese Museum is currently working on the Chinese Melbourne Project, a project that SMCT is supporting.

This project aims to undertake research which will highlight the community of shopkeepers from Chinatown, linking to their families and history. People with Chinese ancestry make up 25 per cent of the current population of Melbourne, all with stories that are impactful to understanding the history of Melbourne.

Information about this project was displayed at the Gatehouse at Melbourne General Cemetery as part of Open House Melbourne as we continue to learn more about the history of Chinese Australia.

A display set up at the Melbourne General Cemetery gatehouse, with a small table featuring pamphlets, and a larger wall poster behind with text and images describing the Chinese Melbourne Project

Creating culturally appropriate spaces

Through collaboration with the Chinese Museum, SMCT has established a range of special areas across our sites aiming to make our sites welcoming to all. In 2018 the Lotus Garden was opened at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, and recognised the importance of Chinese Australians in our community.

Today, we have a range of choices of spaces and temples for our diverse and ever-growing community, including Song He Xin Yuan and the Lotus Garden at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

SMCT thanks the Chinese Museum for their ongoing friendship and look forward to what our future together may hold. Please view the links above or visit the Chinese Museum’s webpage for any further information, including how to visit or participate in the joint projects.

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