Australia continues to support Aileu Community through Friends of Aileu

Australia continues to support Aileu Community through Friends of Aileu

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DILI, 17 october 2023 (TATOLI) – The representatives of the Friends of Aileu met on monday with Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, to express their commitment to continue supporting the Aileu Community.

Friends of Aileu is the friendship relationship between Merri-bek City Council and their communities, Hume City Council and their communities, and the Timor-Leste municipality of Aileu and its people.

Joseph Haweil, Mayor of Hume City said that: “It’s a great privilege and honor to meet Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. We are here as part of the Friends of Aileu relationship that has taken place for more than 20 years.”

“We are here to underscore the wonderful important relationship that we have with this beautiful nation and beautiful community. So, we thank the Prime Minister for his friendship, his kindness, and his solidarity and all the work he is doing to support Timor-Leste’s great friendship with Australia,” Haweil told reporters after meeting Prime Minister at the Government Palace, in Dili.

He said that Hume City Council and its communities are willing to maintain the relationship with the Aileu community for many years to come.

“We plan to keep the relationship going as strong as we can and we always looking for opportunities as we rely on the people of Aileu to come to us with ideas that we can support,” said Haweil.

Both Councils’ support to the Aileu Community has been focused on education, youth development, permaculture, etc: “We’re very keen to maintain the relationship not just for the next five years, but for many years to come.”

At the same place, Merri-bek City Councilor, Mark Riley said that their relationship with the Community of Aileu is very strong: “We exchange friendship, we exchange skills, we exchange ideas. It’s a people-to-people friendship relationship. We are here to support the people of Aileu. They decide what their priorities are and we help to fund them.”

During the meeting, Prime Minister Gusmão underscored that it’s a great relationship that many other countries could learn from.

Friends of Aileu was established 23 years ago under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in may 2000.

As part of the Victorian Government’s program of cooperation with the Government of Timor-Leste, both councils have also entered into Municipal Coorporation Agreements with the Timor-Leste Ministry of State Administration.

According to Merri-bek City Council, currently, there are 32 friendship groups registered with the Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network. Eighteen of these groups are linked to Victorian local government councils. Merri-bek (formerly Moreland) and Hume were among the first councils to formalise their friendship relationship, along with Darebin, Yarra, and Port Phillip.

The friendship relationship is based on the principles of building partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding, committing to a long-term relationship, and supporting Timorese-led decision-making

“Engaging in the spirit of friendship, we participate in activities that support the municipality and people of Aileu to develop their local democracy and seek a more sustainable future. We focus on education and training, community health, and the environment, and specifically aim to address participation by women and youth,” said Merri-bek City Council.

The friendship relationship reflects and builds on the strong links between the people of Australia and Timor-Leste. These links have been developed and strengthened over decades of support and solidarity, particularly during periods of war, occupation, and subsequent peacekeeping.


Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá

Editor: Filomeno Martins


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