Australian Embassy

Launch of Partnership for Human Development

I would like to welcome:

His Excellency, Prime Minister Rui de Araujo

Ministers, Vice Ministers and Senior Officials from the Government of Timor-Leste

Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corp

Colleagues from our implementing partners

And other distinguished guests

Bom dia

I would like to thank his Excellency, Prime Minister de Araujo, for his opening words.

I would also like to acknowledge that today is International Women’s Day. The global theme is Be Bold for Change.

Since I arrived in Timor-Leste three years ago, I have seen bold change. Electrification and mobile phone coverage are near nationwide; and the roads continue to improve.  These achievements are meeting the infrastructure development needs of Timor-Leste and supporting economic growth.

Building the social capital has also been a priority, and under the leadership of the Sixth Constitutional Government, the Government of Timor-Leste has made impressive gains in enhancing human development.

These achievements include:

  • extending health services to the household level and improving the health of mothers and children;
  • implementing a new child-centered curriculum in primary schools to improve teaching and learning;
  • increasing investments in rural water;
  • providing social protection to society’s most vulnerable;
  • coordinating a whole of government campaign on improving nutrition;
  • supporting the rights of people living with a disability; and
  • ensuring women increase their participation in decision making, as we saw with the doubling of female xefe sukus in last year’s village elections.

The Australia Timor-Leste Partnership for Human Development shows our two governments working together to meet the human development needs of Timor-Leste.

Partnership is a key guiding principle of our development cooperation. We work together to support Timor-Leste’s objectives.

The Partnership for Human Development is a ten-year program. Investment in people needs to be long-term. It can be challenging, but with an integrated strategy, clarity of purpose and sensible prioritising, the results will more than repay the effort.

Australia is fully committed, for the long-term, in supporting Timor-Leste’s continuing determination to invest in its people. This investment in people will improve the lives of the Timorese people and it will enable them to contribute more completely to the development of the country.

PHD’s vision is to support the people and Government of Timor-Leste to build and sustain healthy, educated and prosperous individuals and communities, who live with dignity and determine their own future.

This vision is ambitious, but achievable. We will all work together to make it happen.

PHD brings together under one program what were previously eight (8) separate Australian Government investments in health, education, sanitation, water, nutrition, gender equality, disability and social protection.

By bringing these investments together into one collaborative and integrated program, we will not only be more efficient, but more importantly, we will also be more effective at improving the well-being of people.

Rather than working independently, sectors collaborate and combine resources. We are adopting a multi-stakeholder approach, where government, civil society, the private sector and communities work together to deliver services. This approach recognises that no one sector or stakeholder can, on its own, meet the needs of Timorese people.

If I may, I would like to provide an example.

I would like to present Maria. 

Maria is a 16 year-old girl in a rural aldeia in Viqueque.

For Maria to reach her full potential, she and her family need to be supported in several ways.

Maria’s mother received good health care during her pregnancy.

Maria was born safely at a health centre, attended by trained midwives and doctors. 

Maria started life in a home connected to clean water and a toilet.

Maria’s mother and her family, enjoyed a wide variety of nutritious foods, enabling Maria to grow healthy and strong.

Maria’s family received social protection assistance that provided extra financial support to her grandparents and to her cousin who has a disability.

Her home was loving, respectful, supportive and free from violence. 

As Maria reached school age, she started primary school and became literate and numerate. She enjoyed going to school because she had a well-trained and supportive teacher and school leader who made learning fun for all students, including the most vulnerable and children with disabilities.

Maria enjoyed spending time with her family and community, who encouraged her to have big dreams.  They encouraged her to stay in school and encouraged her to participate in activities in the community and school to build her confidence and leadership potential.

Now 16 year-old Maria is healthy, educated and has the confidence to make choices about how she wishes to live her life and improve the lives of her family and her community.

You may say that Maria is a fictional character.

But to me, she represents each individual in Timor-Leste that the Government of Timor-Leste, with the support of Australia, is able to support across their lifecycle – from prior to birth, through to old age.

I’m excited by this new approach to working; by this strengthened partnership.

As today is International Womens’ Day, I also chose to introduce Maria because a key feature of PHD is to ensure that women and girls are the priority of our work. Women and girls must have access to the best possible education and health services. They must be able to live a life free from violence. Timorese women and girls must also be able to enter the workforce and have a voice in decision-making and leadership.

All of us need to contribute. By doing so, we will continue to drive Timor-Leste’s economic growth and contribute to continued peace and community harmony.

Next we will find out more about PHD by playing a video on the program, and see how activities are already making a difference to the lives of Timorese people. If we can lower the lights please.


What a great video. So wonderful to see partners working together on Timor-Leste’s development, and to see the wide range of sectoral support from the program.

I would now like to invite His Excellency the Prime Minister to formally launch the Australia Timor-Leste Partnership for Human Development with me.