This collection of photographs documents people arriving by boats on the beach at Kuantan, Malaysia, in 1978, believed to be the first small boats to arrive on the Malaysian coast after the end of the Vietnam War.
The 18 photographs in this collection were taken in 1978 by Australian Tim Baker. He was working at the time as the Chief Administrator of the dredging and reclamation works being carried out at Kuantan, East Malaysia, by PT Penkonindo, an Indonesian joint venture of the Royal Volker Stevin Group.
The photographs document people arriving by boats on the beach at Kuantan. They are believed to be the first small boats to arrive on the Malaysian coast after the end of the Vietnam War, with the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese on 30 April 1975.
Many boatloads of refugees arrived after this event and a large camp was established by the Malaysian government at Kuantan to accommodate them temporarily. These images demonstrate the early lack of infrastructure to manage refugee boat arrivals, in this case requiring harbour engineering workers to assist.
An estimated 800,000 Viernamese refugees left by boat between 1975 and 1995. Exodus by small boats to neighbouring South-East Asian countries began in about September 1978 and increased until in June 1979 neighbouring countries declared they would not take any more. A United Nations Conference in July 1979 brokered an Orderly Departure Program which increased the intake to Australia and other countries and decreased the exodus by boat.
Museums Victoria holds other collections of photographs of refugee activity in South East Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, taken by Australian Department of Immigration workers, including Jennie Roberts and Lachlan Kennedy.