Australia’s youngest mayor, one of three leaders to ‘break the bamboo ceiling’

The Deputy Mayor of Cr Nguyen is also a Vietnamese-Australian. The new mayor said she hoped to increase employment, create a mental health center and help Brimbank recover from the effects of the pandemic.


Founded by Vivienne Nguyen, chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission in 2014, with former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser as its inaugural patron, the Dual Identity Leadership Program is quickly establishing a blueprint for how migrant communities are better represented in political and public life.

The program, which has about 30 participants each year, is now led by alumni, including former Greens MLC Huong Truong and Celia Tran, who were among the top 50 women in the public sector. They have been approached by leaders of other ethnic community groups for advice on how they too can support their youth.

Cr Claudia Nguyen agreed that it was inspiring to see people like her in prominent positions.

“I’m a woman, I’m queer, and rarely do I walk into a room and feel like I belong,” she said.

“If I can get someone who identifies with me to lead a way, to show them that it’s possible…that would be an achievement.”

Vivienne Nguyen said the program is designed to show pride in Vietnamese culture while teaching participants how to access Australian networks.

“People from different cultural backgrounds don’t have the [same] opportunities,” she says.

“We were not born here. Our parents didn’t know lawyers. We are not part of the network in Victoria, especially in Melbourne, it is very relationship based.”

Cr Tran, who says he is a forward-thinking politician seeking positions at higher levels of government, said the major parties should do more to support diverse communities.

As mayor, he has pledged to advocate for a headspace center to support the mental health of youth in Maribyrnong.

The previous mayor, Michael Clarke, said Cr Tran was the future of politics, especially in Melbourne’s west.

“He’s an intelligent young man, he’s eloquent, he’s a great thinker [and] he’s willing to listen and then, not just act, consider and think,” he said.

In 2002, at the age of 22, Geoff Lake became the youngest person ever to become mayor in Victoria when he was elected mayor of Monash Council. As mayor, Geoff exposed councilors from the South East Regional Waste Management Group who traveled for free and at taxpayer expense to extravagant places around the world.

Cr Tran is two weeks younger than the second youngest mayor, David Eden, who was elected to lead Kingston Council in 2016 at the age of 22.

Emilia Lisa Sterjova made headlines in 2019 when she elected mayor of Whittlesea on the eve of her 23rd birthday.

Labor MP Clare O’Neil was 23 when she became mayor of Greater Dandenong in 2004.

Vivienne Nguyen, Claudia Nguyen and Jasmine Nguyen are not related.

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