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Report on a Visit to Timor-Leste

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Report on a Visit to Timor-Leste

4 - 23 June 2015

Prepared by Friends of Aileu Project Officer Chris Adams

Aileu University Scholarship Program Graduates and Secondary Scholarship Students

with Friends of Aileu Project Officer and Jacinto Mendonca, Aileu Relationship Commission member

Aileu Municipal Administration Office, 10 June 2015,











Meetings with Ministry of State Administration



Meetings with Aileu Municipal Administration



University and Secondary Scholarship Assistance Programs



Laulara Birthing Centre



Besilau Village Lighting Scheme



Uma Ita Nian Clinic Programs



Uma Ita Nian Food Production Program



Aileu Resource and Training Centre Programs



Aileu Resource and Training Centre Agricultural Program



Aileu Science and Technology Institute & Rai Husar Foundation



Aileu Intellectuals Association



Waste Management – Aileu Rotaract and University Students Association



Other Meetings and Observation - Aileu



Other Meetings and Observations – Dili, Ermera and Liquisa



Summary and Conclusions





Project Officer’s Program



People met during visit



Liaison with Ministry of State Administration



Decentralisation Structures and Governance



University Scholarship Program Graduates and Departures


  1. Introduction

1.1 Background

The Moreland City Council and Hume City Council East Timor Partnership (Friends of Aileu) Project Officer, Chris Adams, visited Timor-Leste from 4th to 23rd June 2015, to meet with officials of the Timor-Leste Ministry of State Administration and the Municipal Administration of Aileu and with representatives of non-government partner organisations based in Timor-Leste and Aileu.

This was the first time that the Project Officer, who commenced in the role in January 2015, had visited Timor-Leste since his two periods of work there as an Australian Volunteer for International Development with:

  • FONGTIL, the national umbrella body for non-government organisations in Timor-Leste, in Dili - September 2010 to March 2012;

  • the Aileu District Administration (supported by Friends of Aileu) - November 2007 to December 2009.

1.2 Objectives

This visit had the following objectives:

  1. To maintain and develop Friends of Aileu’s relationships with officials of the Ministry of State Administration and the Municipal Administration of Aileu and with representatives of non-government partner organisations;

  2. To review programs and activities in Aileu which are supported by the Friends of Aileu and its Australian partner organisations;

  3. To meet relevant Timor-Leste and Aileu partners and communities together with representatives of Australian partners the Alternative Technology Association and CERES Global, during these groups’ concurrent visits;

  4. To attend the formation conference of the Aileu Intellectuals Association (proposed for 18th & 19th June);

  5. To assess progress with the Timor-Leste Government’s development programs and its decentralisation processes, particularly with respect to the Municipal Administration and communities of Aileu;

  6. To gain information to assist with the development of Friends of Aileu’s strategy plan for the continuing friendship relationship over the period 2015 and beyond;

  7. To gain information to assist with planning for the initial implementation of the Municipal Cooperation Agreement that Moreland City Council and Hume City Council have agreed to enter into with the Timor-Leste Ministry of State Administration.

1.3 Program and Activities

A summary of the Project Officer’s program while in Dili and Aileu is at Attachment 1 and a List of Key People Met is at Attachment 3.

1.4 Overall Outcomes

The visit contributed to maintaining and developing relationships with representatives of both government and non-government partners. It also:

  • helped clarify a number of issues relating to specific friendship projects and activities and initiate steps to manage these

  • provided some insights into the decentralisation process and how Moreland and Hume City councils might engage in future municipal cooperation activities.

  1. Meetings with Ministry of State Administration: decentralisation and liaison on municipal cooperation & the friendship relationship

2.1 Meetings

The Project Officer met Xisto Freitas, Media Officer for Decentralisation and the nominated contact person for friendship groups at the Ministry of State Administration, on two occasions:

Sr Xisto appreciated the visits, especially as they were amongst the first formal contacts by friendship group representatives following the new liaison arrangements outlined in advice dated 3 May 2015 from the Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network and website Attachment 3.

These arrangements are in line with the messages for Australian municipalities and friendship groups from Tomas Cabral, Vice-minister for Administrative Decentralisation, contained in the notes on Decentralisation Structures and Governance (Attachment 4) that were provided as part of the information package on Municipal Cooperation Agreements.

On 5 June the Project Officer also met with Lino Torrezau, General Director for the Implementation of Municipal Administration (SAIMs), and Claudina Soares Pinto, technical support for Miguel Pereira, the General Director for Local Development, two of the Australia Award fellows who visited Melbourne in April May 2015.

2.2 Outcomes from Meetings at Ministry of State Administration

From these meetings at the Ministry of State Administration it is understood that:

  1. an amended Decree Law on decentralisation had recently been passed by the Council of Ministers and was with the President for promulgation

  2. the 12 Districts (excluding Oecusse, which is a Special Economic Zone) were now planned to go through the decentralisation process together (rather than only several including Aileu proceeding earlier through a Pre-deconcentration phase), providing opportunities for both collaboration and competition amongst the Districts, with a view to holding municipal elections in late 2016

  3. no selections have yet been for new Municipal Managers from the earlier call for Expressions of Interest from National Directors/General Directors

  4. it was considered likely that appointments of new Municipal Managers would be made including consideration of other potential candidates with political background and experience.

  1. Meetings with Aileu Municipal Administration: decentralisation and municipal cooperation & the friendship relationship

3.1 Meetings

On the morning of 9 June, the Project Officer met initially with Mario Soares, Chief of Department of Planning and Development, who is the Aileu Relationship Commission Secretary and Liaison Officer.

Other meetings held later that morning together with Sr Mario were with:

  • Januario Mesquita, of the Aileu Technical Secretariat for Implementation of the Municipality (SAIMs) and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission

  • Fausto Mendonca, Secretary to Municipal Manager (who was formerly the Remexio Subdistrict Administrator and more recently Aileu District Human Resource Officer)

  • Martinho Matos, Municipal Manager (formerly titled District Administrator), and President of the Aileu Relationship Commission.

Sr Januario & SAIMS officer Sr Martinho Matos Sr Fausto Mendonca
3.2 Outcomes from Meetings with Aileu Municipal Administration

From these meetings with Aileu Municipal Administration officers, it is understood that:

  1. the Aileu Technical Secretariat for Implementation of the Municipality is led by Sr Moises (who was formerly the Laulara Subdistrict Administrator)

  2. the Aileu Municipal Strategic Plan had been prepared by the Aileu Technical Secretariat for Implementation of the Municipality following consultation with community representatives through the Local Consultative Council (an interim advisory body with a two-year term prior to the formation of the elected Municipal Assembly) and with government sector representatives through the District Inter-ministerial Technical Groups (at both local and national levels)

  3. the Portuguese language version of the Municipal Strategic Plan has been approved by the Council of Ministers and a Tetun language version is in course of preparation

  4. the approved Municipal Strategic Plan would be reviewed and any proposed changes would be considered by the Local Consultative Council and the Inter-ministerial Technical Group

  5. a copy of the Municipal Strategic Plan would be provided to Friends of Aileu at the earliest opportunity

  6. the Aileu Municipal Administration staff complement is currently 24, while the plan calls for 30 positions plus the Municipal Manager and Secretary

  7. priorities for the Municipality’s development continue to include improvements in education, agriculture, health and infrastructure, with the major supporting priorities being to further develop human resources and local government and civil society organisations

  8. relevant priorities for municipal cooperation support include human resource development, town planning and economic development (especially for tourism)

  9. a particular area of interest for the Municipal Manager was establishing a municipal revenue base (e.g. considering a range of potential royalties, taxes and charges)

3.3 Municipal Cooperation Opportunities

There was interest in future study tours and in potential staff learning and advisor placements between Aileu and Moreland and Hume City Councils to explore opportunities for assistance under the future Municipal Cooperation Agreement, and to develop a targeted program of assistance, in the areas including:

  1. municipal roles in supporting:

  1. human resource development

  2. economic development (for example tourism and tourism related businesses)

  1. town planning capabilities (for example for the Aileu town centre)

  2. developing municipal revenue streams.

3.4 Friendship Relationship Priorities

There was general agreement that activities under the friendship relationship should continue to include support for:

  1. human resource development and organisational development, for both local government and civil society

  2. agreed local initiatives where Friends of Aileu and partners have relevant interests and resources, such as education, health, alternative technologies and sustainable agriculture

  3. developing increased social and cultural exchange between the Moreland-Hume and Aileu communities.

3.5 Other meetings with Municipal Administration, Government Ministry officers and community representatives

Other government officers met included:

  • Carlos Araujo, Chefe Remexio Administrative Post (formerly tiled Remexio Subdistrict Administrator) and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission

  • Domingos Vidigal, Planning and Development Officer, Aileu Municipal Administration

  • Tomasio, one of several engineers/technicians in the Planning and Development Department supporting implementation of the Integrated District Development Plan (PDID)

  • Amado da Costa, Finance Officer, Aileu Municipal Administration

  • Camilo da Costa, Community Development Officer, Aileu Vila Administrative Post

  • Martinho dos Reis, Community Development Officer, Laulara Administrative Post

  • Domingos Verdial, Chefe Lequidoe Administrative Post and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission

  • Xisto Amaral, Aileu Water and Sanitation Department, formerly the Aileu Vila Subdistrict Administrator, and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission.

Mario Soares & Finance Officer Amado da Costa Planning & Development Officer Domingos Vidigal

Elected community representatives met included:

  • Ilidio Maufelo, Aisirimou Suco Chief and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission

  • Manuel Monis, Besilau Aldeia Chief.

The outcomes of these meetings, and further meetings with Mario Soares, which addressed specific aspects of the friendship relationship, are addressed below under particular projects and activities.

Sr Mario also advised that the South Korean Province of Jeju had entered into a relationship with Aileu, having already provided IT equipment for the PDID Program office. It was anticipated that Jeju would provide more office equipment and furniture in the near future.

4 University and Secondary School Scholarship Assistance Programs

Considering that the scholarship programs are the largest ongoing commitments under the friendship relationship and are highly valued contributions to Aileu’s development, aims of the visit was to discuss:

  • possible changes to the scholarship schemes to facilitate appropriate selection of students and targeting of courses of study taking account of human resource needs identified as part of the planning processes associated with decentralisation and the transition to local government

  • improving levels of information available to community members in Aileu and to Friends of Aileu donors and managing budget pressures related to future fundraising capacity and the expected continuation of the current lower exchange rate.

4.1 Discussions with Aileu Relationship Commission members

In discussions with Mario Soares and Januario Mesquita it was agreed as desirable, due to funding limitations, including consideration of the lower Australian dollar, for :

  1. the numbers of students receiving secondary scholarship assistance to be gradually reduced from 2016, so that the expenditure more closely matched the amount of the grant from Hume City Council the contributions from other regular contributors such as the Kangaroo Valley Remexio Partnership

  2. the numbers of students selected from the general community to receive university scholarship assistance for studies of their own choice to be gradually reduced from 2016, so that the expenditure more closely matched the amount currently raised at the Trivia Night and through contributions from other regular scholarship program contributors such as the Kangaroo Valley Remexio Partnership

  3. the criteria for award of the university scholarship program to be modified to provide a greater emphasis on more targeted scholarship assistance for courses of study aligned to needs identified in the Municipal Strategic Plan, and potentially to identified individuals who need to upgrade their capacities to fulfil the requirements of new roles local government and civil society roles to support development within the context of the Government’s decentralisation program.

4.2 Meeting with University Scholarship Program Graduates

On 10 June the Project Officer met seven of the graduates and several other current university and secondary scholarship students together with Mario Soares and Jacinto Mendonca, Local Government Officer, Remexio Administrative Post, and a member of the Aileu Relationship Commission.

Each graduate spoke about their studies and subsequent employment and expressed their appreciation of the assistance received through the Cr Andy Ingham-Aileu Scholarship Program. The project Officer congratulated the graduates on their achievements and mentioned the value to Friends of Aileu supporters and donors of personal information on the students and graduates and their studies and employment to assist with maintaining fundraising for the program

The scholarship program graduates with the Aileu Relationship Commission’s Mario Soares (R)

At Attachment 5 is a list of the 25 graduates to date, with details currently available including for the seven graduates who participated in the 10 June meeting.

4.3 Outcomes for Scholarship Programs

The Secretary of the Aileu Relationship Commission advised that he intended to:

  1. make the 2015 scholarship assistance payments during the next month or so, after the mid-year exam period

  2. provide updated details on scholarship students to Friends of Aileu by mid-August including:

  1. details of current scholarship program recipients and their study progress

  2. additional details of scholarship program graduates and the status of their employment or further study

  3. brief personal stories from scholarship recipients and graduates for use in feedback to Moreland and Hume City Councils, Kangaroo Valley Remexio Partnership and other donors, and for general community fundraising including at the 28 August Trivia Night.

The Friends of Aileu Project Officer and the Aileu Relationship Commission Secretary agreed to continue to liaise to manage the university and secondary scholarship schemes taking account of any changes agreed by the Friends of Aileu Community Committee, the Aileu Relationship Commission and the municipalities of Moreland, Hume and Aileu.

5 Laulara Birthing Centre

5.1 Site Visits

The Project Officer visited the Laulara Birthing Centre, which was developed with funding from Friends of Aileu and partners including Merri Community Health Services and Friends of Laulara, on two occasions:

Observations included:

  1. pedestrian access to the Birthing Centre is currently via two short informal pathways comprising a broken surface of local stone

  2. while neither pathway was particularly steep it was considered desirable that:

  1. the paths be formally constructed in formed stone and/or concrete with steps

  2. an expanded external waiting area be provided near the front door

  1. the Centre manager and nursing staff were proud of the facility and enthusiastic about their work

  2. the interior of the Centre was well-equipped and functional, but a little congested with several unused hospital beds, which the Centre manager indicated could be relocated to another facility.

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