An Introduction to the

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An Introduction to the

Timor-Leste – Australia Friendship Relationships


by Richard Brown
Melbourne, July 2009

Introdusaun ba

Relasaun Amizades entre Timor-Leste ho Australia


husi Richard Brown
Melbourne, Jullu 2009


I believe that the development of relationships between communities and person-to-person based interaction will lead to a better mutual knowledge that is naturally transformed into mutual respect. I believe that exchange, not strictly material donations or trade relationships, can be a sound and healthy basis of a relationship between communities, between people and between States.’ H.E. President Xanana Gusmão, Keynote address at the ‘Working Together For East Timor’ Conference & Expo, Melbourne, April 2003

Australian communities have a long history of supporting the people of Timor-Leste Timor. During the period of Indonesian occupation, Australian communities and individuals were in the forefront of the international solidarity movement supporting East Timorese independence. However, the idea of establishing ‘friendship relationships’ between local communities in Timor-Leste and Australia emerged from the 1999 independence referendum supervised by the United Nations, when Darebin Councillor and Victorian Local Governance Association Policy Officer, Rae Perry, participated as an international observer.
The concept of Friendship Relationships came to fruition early in 2000, after the visit to Melbourne of the then leader of CNRT, and now the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão. He signed a document which set out the principles for the operation of local governments in Timor-Leste, with the Minister for Local Government in Victoria and the two ‘peak’ local government bodies, the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) (see a copy of the document at Attachment 1).
Abel Guterres, now the Consul-General for Timor-Leste in Sydney, and Councillor Rae Perry, initiated the friendship ‘program’ with the aim of developing friendship, support and cross-cultural understanding at a grass-roots level between the people of Timor-Leste and the people of Australia through local governments and their communities.
Current status. There are currently over forty such relationships, involving nearly sixty local governments and the number continues to grow, which is indicative of the enormous goodwill towards Timor-Leste that is present in the Australian community (see list of current Relationships at Attachment 2). The majority of the groups are located in Victoria, reflecting the history of the program.
Operating principles. Although each Friendship Relationship is autonomous and operates independently of other Friendship Relationships, the principles embodied in the original ‘Statement of Principles’ apply to all the Friendship Relationships
The principles underlying the Friendship Relationships are:

  • Respect and support for Timorese-led decision-making

  • Assistance provided is sustainable

  • It is a long-term (10-year minimum) commitment

  • The relationship is based on mutual respect and collaboration

Friendship Agreements. In many cases, the Friendship Relationships are formalised by written Friendship Agreement, based on the ‘Statement of Principles’. This agreement is signed by representatives of the Australian local government and/or community group and the Timor-Leste District or sub-District involved and governs the operation of the relationship (see example of a Friendship Agreement at Attachment 3).
Projects. The range of activities and projects in Timor-Leste supported by Australian Friendship groups varies from District to District and includes scholarships for secondary and tertiary students, training of teachers and other professionals, assistance with agricultural and other projects, support for the development of vocational training (e.g. in Baucau and Aileu), construction and refurbishment of buildings, and provision of Internet access, as well as provision of direct material aid, such as office equipment. The Relationship usually involves visits to Timor-Leste and Australia by representatives of the partners and support for projects and activities in Timor-Leste. The visits to Australia are generally funded by the Australian partner.
Australian Friendship groups are encouraged to understand the objectives of the Timor-Leste Government’s National Development Plan and the District Development Plans, and to plan projects in close coordination with the District Administration, taking account of the activities of other NGOs in the District.
Capacity-building. In providing assistance, Friendship groups try to respond to the needs and priorities of the local Timor-Leste community. In several Districts, Commissions have been established to manage the Friendship Relationship and establish priorities for assistance. Over time, the emphasis of the assistance has changed from emergency relief and material aid in the early years after 1999, to a greater emphasis on training and capacity building of individuals and organisations.
Partnerships. In some cases, Friendship Relationships involve a number of other partners, both in Australia and in Timor-Leste. For example, some of the Friendship groups work with the Alternative Technology Association, which has undertaken installation of solar lighting systems in public buildings in most Districts.

Funding. Funds for projects in Timor-Leste are raised by the Australian Friendship groups through public fundraising activities, rather than by an allocation of funds by Australian Local Governments. Local Governments provide resources to support the Friendship Relationships and three of them employ a project officer to work exclusively on the Relationships. Some also employ Australian volunteers, who support the relationship in Timor-Leste.
Liaison and Communication. One of the main difficulties facing the development of the Friendship Relationships has been the problem of communication between Timor-Leste and Australia. Mobile phone contact is possible with the major population centres in Timor-Leste, but email access is very limited, as is postal contact. Most Friendship groups rely on visits between the two countries to maintain contact and provide opportunities to discuss projects and other activities.
Some groups, such as the Friends of Baucau, the Friends of Suai and the Friends of Aileu have funded the employment of volunteer project officers, who work with the District Administration and local community and are able to provide regular reports to Australia via email and mobile phone.

In 2004, the VLGA, with support from the Victorian State Government and a number of local governments, funded the establishment of a ‘liaison office’ in Dili, housed in the Ministry of State Administration. An AVI Volunteer project officer was appointed and several local counterparts were employed for short periods. However, the office was closed following the unrest in 2006, and has not yet been re-staffed.

Coordination. In Australia, the Friendship Relationships operate independently, with no formal, national structure. However the allocation of partners in East Timor is coordinated through the office of the Consul General. As the initiator of the program, the VLGA, through its Timor-Leste Working Group, has undertaken a coordination function, and is strongly supported by the New South Wales Local Government & Shires Association.
Friendship Conference. In June 2008, the VLGA, in cooperation with the Ministry of State Administration, held a conference in Dili under the title:

‘Strengthening Communities Through International Friendship’. Over two hundred people participated, with delegates from all of the Districts and most of the Australian friendship groups. The President, the Prime Minister and a number of senior ministers and public servants from the Timor-Leste Government also attended. The conference included a series of planning workshops, where delegates from each District met with their Australian friendship group counterparts and discussed their achievements and plans for the future.

The Conference delegates unanimously passed two recommendations. One was to establish a support office for the friendship relationships in Dili with a counterpart office in Australia. The second was in support of the Australian Government granting temporary visas to people from Timor-Leste to come as seasonal workers to Australia and fill jobs in industries where there is a lac of suitable labour, e.g. horticulture. The Australian delegates also expressed interest in establishing a national ‘umbrella’ organisation to coordinate the activities of Australian Friendship groups.
In late 2008 and early 2009, a series of meetings were held with representatives of the Ministry of State Administration and AusAID to discuss options for funding and developing the proposed support office in Dili. Meanwhile, the Friendship groups continue to increase in number and to and develop their relationships with their Timor-Leste counterparts.

Attachment 1.

Attachment 2. Timor-Leste – Australia Friendship Relationships



Friendship Group


- Besilau aldeia

Moreland & Hume City Councils – Friends of Aileu Community Committee (VIC)

Moora Moora Cooperative Community (VIC)


Campaspe Shire – Campaspe East Timor Association in Friendship (VIC)


Kangaroo Valley Remexio Partnership (NSW)


City of Ballarat – Ballarat Friends of Ainaro Community Committee (VIC)

Hato Builico

City of Blue Mountains – Blue Mts East Timor Friendship Group (NSW)


City of Greater Bendigo – Bendigo Maubisse Friendship Committee (VIC)


Darebin & Yarra City Councils – Friends of Baucau (VIC)


Stonnington City Council – Friends of Baguia (VIC)


Gympie-Laga Friendship Association (QLD)


Mildura Rural City Council – Mildura Quelicai Community Friendship Committee (VIC)


Mansfield Shire Council – Friends of Venilale (VIC)


Monash City Council – Monash Friends of Vermasse (VIC)


Hepburn Shire Council – Daylesford & District Friendship Group (VIC)


Friends of Balibo (VIC)


Mt Alexander Shire Council- Friends of Lolotoe (VIC)


Leichardt City Council – Friends of Maliana (NSW)

Cova Lima


Port Philip City Council – Friends of Suai (VIC)


Kiama Municipal Council– Kiama-Zumalai Friendship (NSW)



Darwin City Council (NT); ACT City Council – Canberra Friends of Dili (ACT)


Shire of Indigo – Indigo Atauro Friendship Group (VIC)


Casey City Council – Friends of Ermera (VIC)

Lete Foho & Hatolia

Melville City Council–Melville Friends of Lete Foho & Hatolia Inc (WA)


Moonee Valley City Council – Friends of Liquica (VIC)


Mossman Municipal Council – Mossman Maubara Friendship Group (NSW)


Wingecarabee Shire Council (NSW)


Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (11 councils) (NSW)*


Mornington Peninsula Shire – Friends of Lospalos (VIC)


Leeton Shire Council – Friends of Luro (Leeton, NSW)


Griffiths City Council (NSW)


Kingston City Council – Friends of Manatuto (VIC)


Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (13 City Councils & 2 water councils (NSW) **


Bayside Friends of Laleia (VIC)


Bega Valley Shire – Bega Advocates for Timor-Leste (NSW)


Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (NSW)



Forrestville-Davidson Social Justice Group (Warringah, NSW)


Boroondara City Council – Friends of Same (VIC)


Macedon Ranges Shire Council –Macedon Ranges Friends of East Timor (VIC)


Whitehorse Friends of Oecussi (VIC), City of Greater Brisbane (QLD); Manly City Council (NSW)


City of Greater Geelong – Friends of Viqueque (VIC)


Wangaratta City Council – Friends of Lacluta (VIC)


Willoughby City Council – Willoughby Friends of Ossu (NSW)

- Loi Huno suco

Maryborough Friends of East Timor (VIC)


Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (11 councils) (NSW)

- Uaimori suco

Friends of Uaimori (VIC)

* SSROC councils - Botany Bay, Canterbury, Hurstville, Kogarah, Marrickville, Randwick, Rockdale, South Sydney, Sutherland, Waverly, Woolarah Councils

** REROC councils - Bland, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Corowa, Greater Hume, Gundagai, Junee, Lockhart, Temora, Tumbarumba, Tumut, Urana and Wagga Wagga Councils, plus Goldenfields and Riverina Water County Councils

Attachment 3. Friendship Agreement

Relasaun Amizades entre Timor Leste ho Australia
Hau fiar katak desenvolvimentu relacoes entre komunidades no ema ida ba ida liu hosi base intercessao, sei ba hetan konhecimento diak nebe naturalmente sei tranforma ba respeito mutuo. Hau fiar katak liu hosi troca relasaun ida ne nebe laos deit ba materiais donativos nomos relasoes comerciais,mai be sei hetan base forte liu mai hosi relasaun entre ema no estados.’ C.E. Presidente Xanana Gusmao, lian fuan importante ida ne hatoo iha ‘Servicu hamutuk ba Timor Leste’ Conferencia & Expo, Melbourne, April 2003
Hun. Comunidades Australianos iha storia naruk wainhira koalia kona ba suporta ema Timor Leste. Durante ocupasaun Indonesia, comunidades Australianos no sira nia ema ida ida hamrik iha oin duni hanesan Movimento Solidariedade Internasional nian hodi fo suporta ba independensia Timor Leste. Maibe, ideia atu hari ‘relasaun amizades’ entre komunidades locais Timor Leste no Australia nian hahu kuando Vereadora,Rae Perry, hosi Camara Municipal Darebin nomos nia hanesan official regulamento associacao Governo Local ba Victoria nian mai partisipa hanesan observadora international iha referendu independencia nebe hetan supervisaun hosi Nacoes Unidas iha tinan 1999.
Ideia ba relasaun Amizade ida ne hahu haburas iha tinan 2000 nia laran, wainhira ulun bot CNRT (Conselho National Resistencia de Timorense) nebe agora daun daun hanesan Primeiro Ministro ba Timor Leste , Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao mai visita Melbourne. Nia homos ulun bot balu hanesan Ministro ba governo local nian iha Victoria, corpos Representativos nain rua hosi governo local, Associacao ba Govermo Local iha Victoria (VLGA), Associacao ba Camara iha Victoria (MAV), assina tiha documento ida nebe hakuir kona ba prinicipios hodi halao servicu iha governo local Timor Leste. (hare iha lista anexo 1)
Abel Guterres nebe hanesan Consul Geral ba Timor Leste iha Sydney, ho Vereadora Ray Perry, hahu ‘programa’ amizade ida ne ho intensaun atu desenvolve amizade, supporta no troca conhecimento kona ba kultura hahu hosi nivel okos entré ema Timor oan no Australia oan sira liu hosi governo local no sira nia komunidade.
Momento ida ne. Agora daun daun relasoes hirak ne iha hat nulu resin ona nebe involve quase nen nulu hosi governos locais e numero ne sei aumenta ba oin tan, nebe hatudu sai hosi laran luak bot tebes hosi comunidade nebe mak agora daun daun iha Australia ba Timor Leste. (hare iha lista anexo 2).Hare fila fali hosi historia ba programa ida ne, grupus hirak ne barak liu localizada iha Victoria
Principios hodi halao. Mesmo que cada Relasaun Amizade hirak ne halao servicu mesak mesak maibe sira hotu halo tuir dalan principios hun nebe mak integra iha “Declarasaun de Principios” ida nebe mak aplica iha Relasaun Amizade nian.
Principos fundamentais ba Relasoes Amizades nian mak:

  • Respeito no suporta Timor oan sira bainhira sira halo desizaun

  • Apoio nebe mak hatoo se lao nafatin ba oin

  • Dedikasaun ida ne lori tempo naruk (Minimu tinan 10)

  • Relasaun ida ne liu hosi respeito mutuo no kolaborasaun.

Acordos de Amizades. Iha casu barak, Relasaun de Amizades sei formaliza hosi Acordo de Amizades nebe mak hakerek, liu hosi “Declarasaun de Principios”. Acordo ida ne assina hosi representates Governo Local Australiano nian no/se lae Grupu comunitario ho Distrito no sub-Distrito iha Timor Leste nebe mak involve no ukun relasaun de amizade (hare exemplo hosi Acordo de Amizade ida iha anexo 3).

Projectos. Actividades ho projectos oin oin iha Timor Leste hetan suporta hosi grupus Australiano ba Amizades oi-oin hosi Distrito ba Distrito nebe tama mos hosi bolsa de estudos ba secondaria no estudantes liceu, Treinamento ba Professores sira no professionais sira seluk, apoio ba agrikultura no projectos seluk, suporta ba desenvolvimento treinamentos tecnicos (exemplo iha Baucau no Aileu), halo no hadia edificios, hanoin atu hatama internet, no mos hanoin atu hatama direitamente materiais de ajuda, exemplo sasan escritorio nian. Relasaun normalmente involve visitas ba Timor Leste no Australia liu hosi representantes hosi parceiros suporta ba projectos no actividades iha Timor Leste. Visita mai Australia geralmente funda hosi parceiro Australiano.
Grupus Australianos de Amizades hetan coragem hodi compreende Plano Desenvolvimento Governo National Timor Leste nian ho Planos desenvolvimentos Distrito sira nian, no atu halao hamutuk plano projectos ho Administrasaun de Distritos, respeito no fo konsiderasaun ba actividades hosi NGOs sira seluk iha Distritos.
Hari kapasidade. Wainhira atu fo apoio, grupus Amizades tenta atu hatan ba prioridades no hakarak hirak nebe mai hosi comunidade local Timor Leste. Iha Distritos balu, hari mos comissoes sira atu halao Relasoes Amizades no estabele prioridades ba apoios. Tempo liu daun daun apoio importante mos laos fo deit ajuda emergencia no ajuda sasan hanesan iha tinan hirak nebe depois de 1999, maibe muda to fali suporta importantes tebes hanesan treinamento no hari kapasidade ba ema ida ida no organisacoes.
Parceiros. Iha casus balun, Relasaaun Amizades involve numeros hosi parceiros seluk tan nebe iha Australia no Timor Leste. Por Examplo, grupus Amizades balu service hamutuk ho Associasaun Alternativa de Tecnologia, nebe halao halo instalasaun sistema de energia iha edificio publico iha Distrito balun.

Fundos Financeiros. Fundos ba projectos iha Timor Leste buka hosi Grupus Australianos de Amizades liu hosi actividades donativas publicas do que liu hosi fundos alocativos hosi Governo Local Australiano. Governos locais fo recursus atu suporta Relasaun Amizades no iha tolu nebe atu emprega ba projecto official hodi servicu fo tomak ba relasoes ida ne. Balu hatama mos Voluntarios Australianos, nebe suporta relasoes iha Timor Leste.
Ligasaun ho Comunicasaun. Entre dificuldades sira, iha ida nebe mak hasoru desenvolvimento ba relasaoes de Amizades mak problema kona ba meios de comunicasaun bilateral entre Timor Leste no Australia. Contacto arame diak liu tan ba maioria populasaun consentrada iha Timor Leste, maibe acessu ba email mak limitado hanesan mos contacto postal.Grupus de Amizades barak depende hosi visitas entre entre nasaun rua ne atu iha contactu nafatin hodi fo opportunidades atu koalia sobre projectos no actividades seluk.
Grupus balu, hanesan Amigos de Baucau, Amigos de Suai no Amigos de Aileu financia tiha ona empregado voluntario ba projectos officiais, nebe service hamutuk ho Administrasaun Distrito no comunidade local nebe bele hatama relatorio regulamente ba Australia liu hosi email no arame.
Iha tinan 2004, grupu VLGA ho suporta hosi Governo Estadual hosi Victoria, no numero hosi governos locais, fo tulun ho osan hodi hari “ligasaun de escritorio” iha Dili, nia fatin iha Ministerio da Administrasaun estadual. Australia Internasional Voluntario projecto official hili tiha ona hamutuk ho parceiros locais balu nebe hatama ba servisu fo tempo badak deit. Maibe, escritorio ne taka tiha tanba disturbio mak iha 2006, nebe to ohin loron seidauk hatama ema foun.

Coordination. Iha Australia, Relasaun Amizade servicu mesak mesak, laiha formalidade, nasional strutura, maibe parceiros iha Timor Leste sei aloca liu tuir coordinasaun hosi Consul Geral. Hanesan ulun bot nebe hahu programa ida ne, Grupu VLGA, liu hosi Grupu servicu ba Timor Leste, halao funsaun coordinadora ida, nebe hetan suporta bot tebes hosi Governo Local Nova Gales do Sul no Assosiasaun regiaun nian.
Conferensia ba Amizade. Iha fulan Juñu 2008, VLGA,

Srevisu hamutuk ho Ministeriu de Administrasaun Estatal, halo tiha konferensia ida iha Dili ho naran “ Hametin Komunidade Liu Hosi Amizade Internasional.” Ema liu atus rua resin mak partisipa iha konferensia ida ne’e, ho delegadus mai husi Distritu hotu-hotu no mos grupu amizades husi Australia, Timor-Leste nia Prezidente,Primeiru Ministru, Ministru no mos funsiuraius husi Governu Timor-Leste. Konferensia ida ne’e inklui sorumutu ba planeamentus, nebe delegadus husi Distritu ida-ida hetan malu ho sira nia belun husi grupu Amizades Australia hohalo disusaun kona ba sira nia susesu no planeamentu ba futuru.

Delegadus ho lia ida dei’t pasa tiha rekomendasaun rua.

Primeiru: atu estabelese eskritóriu sira iha Australia no iha Dili Timor-Leste para fó apoiu ba Relasaun Amizade Timor-Leste Australia.

Segundu: Fó apoiu ba Governu Australia para atu fó vistu temporariu ba Timor oan sira hoa mai servisu iha Australia, iha industria nebe mak presiza traballdor, ezemplu iha hortikultura. Delegadu sira husi Australia mós hato sira nian interese atu estabelese organizasaun “sombrelu Nasional” ida para kordena grupu Amizades Australia nia aktividade.
Iha fon tinan ikus 2008 no prinsipiu 2009, representates sira husi Ministeriu de Administrasaun Estatal no AusAid halo tiha enkontrus para diskute kona-ba opsaun para atu hetan fundus no dezenvolve planus atu estabelese eskrtoriu iha Dili.Durante tempu ida ne’e grupu amizades iha Australia kontinua aumenta sira nia numeru no dezenvolve relasaun amizade ho belun sira iha Timor-Leste.
Anexo 1

Reconhecimento independencia Timor Leste nudar nasaun no conhecimento ba terus hosi asuwain Timor Leste, nune ema iha Victoria liu hosi sira nia representantes ba Comando National Da Resistencia Timorense (CNRT) nebe iha ne hatan katak:

  • Relasaun ida atu ba dura sei ba hari hosi parseiro ida nebe ho respeito mutuo, nune relasaun ida nune sei nafatin ba hetan respeito no sei ba hetan valor local nomos culturas nationais no processos hodi foti decisaun;

  • Governo locais no organisasoes iha nivel ba comunidade iha matenek no esperiensia atu lori ba no desenvolvimento comunidades locais;

  • Conhecimento no matenek hosi governos locais iha Victoria sei ba fahe malu liu hosi parceiros hamutuk ho ema Timor Leste;

  • Acordo ida ne simu ho haksolok katak Timor Leste hanesan visinho nebe que besik liu ho Australia iha nivel hotu ba governo democratico;

  • Sasan nebe fo liu hosi governos locais iha Victoria atu ba hadia fila fali nasaun Timor Leste tenki liu efectivamente hosi buka hatene tuir no cooperasaun hamutuk ho comunidade local no representantes nationais ba ema Timor Leste;

  • Reconhecimento ba suplemento contribusaun nebe mak hakarak hosi Nasoes Unidas, agencies international sira seluk no partes hosi Organisaoes laos governo nia nian agora hakarak atu halao parceiros comunidade ba comunidade; no

  • Ita presiza respeito no honra hosi hakas an ba ema hirak nebe hotu iha Victoria no Timor Leste nebe mak iha spirito atu hakas an servicu democratico atu halo diak qualidade moris ba sira nia comunidades.

Asina iha loron 4, fulan Maio, tinan 2000

Xanana Gusmão Cr Julie Hansen Cr Brad Matheson

Presidente CNRT President VLGA President MAV

Hon. Bob Cameron MP

Minister for Local Government, Victoria

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