Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Edmond Chiu AM for receiving this year’s AMaGA Victoria Award for Excellence (Volunteer) for his valuable contributions as a Chinese Museum volunteer! His dedication and impeccable work ethic remains an inspiration to all of us at the Chinese Museum. 

Watch the entire awards ceremony, or forward to Prof Ed receiving his award, at 34.20 mins, here: 

Getting to know Prof Emeritus Edmond Chiu AM 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Uncle Ed, as we fondly call him at the museum, would go to the museum twice a week. When he was introduced to me when I joined the museum last year, it was mentioned that he is a retired professor from the University of Melbourne, an emeritus professor in fact.  

I admire him for the depth of his knowledge on Chinese Australian soldiers during Anzac and World War IIBut more than that, regard him highly for the fact that despite his advanced age, like clockwork, he would show up at the museum and quietly continue with his work in this topic. This is the primary reason why I decided to nominate him for the award.  

Caption: Professor Chiu helping with preparations for this year’s Chinese New Year celebration

Although I knew that he must have had significant contributions to his field of expertise to have been awarded emeritus status, it was not until I started putting together his nomination for the AMAGA award that I learned how stellar and distinguished he is in the psychiatry field, locally and internationally! 

Edmond (Yu-Kuen) CHIU, a Hong Kong born Chinese, lived in Guangzhou during WWII and attended school in Macau and Hong Kong at the end of the war. In 1952, at 13 years old, he migrated to Ingham, North Queensland, Australia. He went to Cardinal Gilroy College and Ingham High School before completing a degree in medicine from the University of Queensland Medical School. He subsequently trained in psychiatry in Melbourne, Hong Kong, and England. From 1977, he was a member of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne.  

His significant work in Huntington's disease earned him a distinction as a Member of the Order of Australia (A.M.) in 1988. He is a recognised leader in the discipline of Old Age Psychiatry within and outside Australia. He founded the Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age within the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). He was also elected President of the International Psychogeriatric Association and to the Chair of the Section of Old Age Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). The RANZCP honoured him with The Medal of Honour, and the WPA appointed him an Honourary Membership.  

An accomplished scholar, Prof. Chiu has published more than a hundred academic papers and co-edited 14 books. During his retirement in 2004, the University of Melbourne recognised his contribution by honouring him with Professor Emeritus status.  

Volunteering at the museum 

Caption: The Chinese Anzacs exhibition before it travelled inter-state.  

In 2010, Uncle Ed, started volunteering at the museum.  

His first task was to assist in researching materials that would be used for the then forthcoming exhibition on Chinese Anzac soldiers. He brought with him decades of knowledge and skills in doing academic research to search through databases for information. The exhibition, Chinese Anzacswas conceptualised as a touring exhibition and has since gone to venues in regional Victoria and out-of-state, more recently Perth, WA.  

One of the biggest hurdles for this topic is that many soldiers no longer have Chinese surnames, which makes it difficult to identify many Australians of Chinese ancestry. A database of Anzac and WWII soldiers with Chinese ancestry does not exist. Hence, one of his major contributions to the industry’s knowledge production is compiling these names and stories about them.  

Continuing the work on Chinese Australian soldiers 

Research work for the Chinese Anzac exhibition has since been completed. Despite this, Uncle Ed continued his work in collating names and details of soldiers with Chinese Ancestry. 

This year, the museum received a grant from the Victorian State Government to embark on a project to research and publish a book, For Honour and Country, that further identifies and recognises the contribution of Chinese Australian veterans and service people living in Victoria. This book builds on the foundational work that he has established. He is also the principal author of the book, which is scheduled to be launched on ANZAC Day 2021. 

The work that he has done in researching Chinese Australian Anzac and WWII soldiers has a significant impact not just for Chinese Australians but for the wider Australian community as well. The contribution of Chinese Australians in the war efforts is a much-neglected topic and this book will help fill this gap in our history. For Honour and Country will also provide insights into Chinese Australians' willing participation in the Great War and WWII against the backdrop of the social context of the 1940s when it was challenging for Chinese Australians to enlist because of the White Australia Policy and the anti-Chinese sentiments at the time. 

Uncle Ed’s dedication and impeccable work ethics remain an inspiration to all of us at the Chinese Museum. We are very proud of you, Professor Chiu! 

Written by Dr. Ethel Villafranca, Curator and Exhibition Manager, Museum of Chinese Australian History.

15 December 2020