About the Society

The Australia China Friendship Society is a non-profit organisation, run completely by volunteers. It was founded in the early 1950s to promote friendship and understanding between the people of Australia and China. It has no political affiliation.

The Society has branches in each State and Territory of Australia. The ACT Branch was established in 1973.

The ACT Branch holds regular meetings covering a wide range of activities. A bulletin keeps members informed of coming activities and provides general information on topics relating to China.

Our Logo

Early Days

Early days efforts were concentrated on gaining diplomatic recognition of China. Once that was established exchanges between our 2 countries started to happen.  The first Chinese embassy was on the highway in a former motel in Watson. Chinese students started coming to Canberra to study at the old CCAE in the 1970s. Initially they found it quite difficult. Lee Hiscox, a former Secretary of the Society, devoted a significant part of her life to helping the students settle in to life in Canberra. The Society arranged for students to have an ACFS family help them whilst they were in Canberra. This was in the days when students had very little money and no cars. Members would invite the students to their homes and take them out to see places in the Canberra area as well as show them around Canberra itself.  There were few other Chinese Societies in Canberra in the early days unlike today where there are now many.

Current Activities

We try to have a range of activities during the year such as:

  • Panda Competition for school students
  • Awards for the best and most improved students of mandarin at high schools and colleges
  • Lantern making workshops
  • Lantern Festival
  • Support for Project Hope
  • Guest speakers to talk about various interesting topics relating to China such as history, art, music, architecture, traditional medicine, etc
  • Dinners - special banquets
  • Films
  • Visits to the Chinese Embassy and Cultural Office
  • Tours to China and other countries

School activities

The Panda Competition is an art competition for children from pre-school through to high school.  Children are asked to either draw or create a collage on a particular topic.  Prizes are awarded in each age category and the Lee Hiscox Award is presented tot he student with the most creative entry.  Each prize winner is also presented with a certificate.  For the last 2 years the presentation ceremony has been held at the Chinese Embassy attended by students, teachers, principals and parents.

We have donated 2 shields to most of the government schools teaching Mandarin and we present certificates to the best and most improved students of Mandarin at each participating school and college. Winning students, their teachers and families are invited to a yum cha where the certificates are presented.

Lantern Making Workshop and Lantern Festival

The society runs a lantern making workshop prior to the festival.  Attendees are taught how to make a variety of different lanterns.

The Lantern Festival is held 2 weeks after Chinese New Year in the Canberra Beijing Garden. This is a very popular event attended by members and the general public. All proceedings from the event contribute towards the Hope project.

Project Hope - Helping poor rural schools and students

Project Hope is a national organisation in China which works in conjunction with the Youth Development Foundation. There are branches in most Provinces with the majority of schools in poverty-stricken countryside areas.The ACT Branch supports 10 students from the Labagoumen School. The school is located in a remote mountainous region of Beijing municipality. It has 76 teachers, 414 students, 240 are boarders. We started funding students at Labagoumen in 2002.


Dinners are popular as we generally organise interesting menus for a reasonable price and it is a good opportunity to meet and catch up with other members.

Guest Speakers

We have had a number of guest speakers over the years.  In recent years we have had:

  • Minister-Counsellor Yang Zhi - China's Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Alex Olah - Teaching English in China
  • Brendan Forde - The Politics of village life in China
  • Barry McGowan - Taming the Bush: The challenges and triumphs of the Chinese People of Rural Australia

Visits to the Chinese Embassy and Cultural Office

Members are invited to the Cultural Office of the Chinese Embassy and to events at the embassy from time to time.

Tours and exhibitions

Recent tours have included:

  • The Chinese collection at the National Gallery of Australia
  • Waving the Red Flag at the National Library of Australia