National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Boat to the Barossa

February 2017

Yung Nietschke is not your typical Barossa Valley farmer’s wife. As well as supporting husband Brett running the family farm in South Australia and helping to raise their three daughters, Yung has her own consultancy, working on overseas aid education projects. But it’s not only her employment that differs from many of her neighbours. Rather than being a fifth-generation district descendant with German Lutheran heritage, Yung was raised as a Catholic and came to Australia as a child from Vietnam. This is her story.

by Yung Nietschke

I am a refugee … a boat person. I was born in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the year the Vietnam War ended and lived through the early years of poverty and political oppression under the newly formed communist government from North Vietnam.

Now I live in the Barossa Valley in South Australia on a wheat and sheep farm with my husband and our children. My heritage and experiences mean I’m not a typical local. When strangers on the street hear me talk, they are surprised that I speak English so well. While the Barossa is not very multicultural, I’ve never encountered racism in Australia. I’ve felt embraced into the community.

People in the Barossa have a strong work ethic and a very strong faith built around service and community. Our family worships at Neukirch Lutheran Church and I am learning new traditions which have further strengthened my own faith journey.

I’ve been working on aid projects for more than 15 years. I am committed to improving education access and outcomes for all children worldwide, especially for victims of conflict. Closer to home, I enjoy sharing my experiences as a refugee with primary school children to promote a culture of understanding and multiculturalism.

So how did I come to be living and working here in Koonunga, on the northern edge of the Barossa Valley?