Fairfield Councillor Dai Le understands the struggles of being a refugee.
Now, almost 35 years on, she's about to return to Hong Kong for the first time since spending a year of her childhood in a camp there.
Ms Le fled Vietnam with her family in April 1975, towards the end of the war, when she was just seven years old.
"The country was in chaos," she said.
"The images that people back then would have seen on TV, the helicopters landing on the Independent Palace in Vietnam, people running, scrambling to get on boats and ships: we were one of those families."
The exodus took the family to the Philippines were they stayed in camps for almost three years before Ms Le's mother decided to get a boat with a group of people and set sail.
"God knows where they wanted to go but we got picked up by the Hong Kong patrol boats," she said.
Ms Le remembers being in a camp in Hong Kong for a year and can still visualise the barbed wire fence and "big warehouses" that squeezed in thousands of asylum seekers.
"You all shower together," she said.
"If you want to brush your teeth and wash your face, there's a tap outside the building.
"Sometimes there's not enough water.
"There was a wooden box for a toilet and people took turns emptying the boxes.
"The conditions were appalling.
"Sure we were emptying s***t boxes, we were sleeping on concrete . . . but it was a refugee camp.
"We were seeking asylum and we were grateful we actually weren't running for our lives and we weren't exposed to the bombs."
While in camp, Ms Le's mother submitted an application to seek asylum in the United States of America. Her second choice was Australia.
"We were actually accepted very quickly by the US to be resettled but my mum for some reason said 'no'," Ms Le said.
She had heard her mother praise the education system in Australia and knew that was a priority. They waited for months and were eventually accepted to come to Australia.
The family flew to Australia and stayed in the Fairy Meadow Migrant Hostel before moving to Cabramatta.
"It took a lot to integrate and settle into this new society," she said.
Ms Le looks forward to returning to Hong Kong for a reunion of Vietnamese refugees who arrived in Hong Kong during the aftermath of the Vietnamese War.
Ms Le points out that the reunion happens to be on December 3, the same day of the year she was accepted into Australia for permanent residency.
"I was young when I was there," she said. "I want to see it through adult eyes, what the place was like and to see how I would feel.
"Fear is not something but I could be emotional. I just don't know."