Dili - Timor Leste

Darwin youth volunteers in DiliYoung Darwin Volunteers in Dili

Person-to-person communication and exchange at the community level is a powerful tool for inspiring creativity, innovation and change.  Matt and Brigid, young people from Darwin, found out first hand just how powerful exchange is when they undertook a 3 week volunteer placement in Dili, Timor-Leste.  Matt and Brigid worked with local counterparts, Acio, Rui, Nata and Vero to assist with operations at the Action for Change Foundation (ACF) a youth training centre in Dili and long-term partner with City of Darwin.  "It is important for the organization’s development," said ACF Director, Jose de Jesus of the exchange, "Especially for a small organization like ACF, we need to increase public awareness and youth engagement through different activities like exchange of culture, working environment, friendship and equip the local staff to work in partnership with others."  A number of the Timorese staff at ACF have been to Darwin on exchange with City of Darwin, this was the first time young people from Darwin had the opportunity to go to Dili.  Matt and Brigid commented that they were constantly inspired by the staff and students at ACF and their ability to do so much for their community with so little.

How do you run your city?

City of Darwin continues to build relationships with the Dili District Administration, the local level of government in Dili, Timor-Leste.  After undertaking 3 successful youth exchanges with a local NGO in Dili, City of Darwin decided to investigate capacity building initiatives at a local government officer level.  The Secretary of State for State Administration, Dr Tomas Cabral highlighted on his visit to Darwin in 2014 that the way forward for Dili District Administration is to build capacity of their staff.  City of Darwin is pleased to be able to work in partnership with the Dili District and Central Government to provide skills building opportunities.  City of Darwin will host two Council officers from Dili in October who will observe and visit Council operations include waste management, libraries and community development. 

Dili Choir Comes to Darwin

Dili singers with SantaCouncil supported the St. Cecilia Choir from Dili to travel to Darwin to perform the Messiah with the Darwin Chorale and Darwin Symphony Orchestra 7 - 8 December 2013.  The Dili singers spent the entire year carefully learning all the music and lyrics of Handel's masterpiece.  The choir made a special visit to Santa in the Mall where they got shoppers into the spirit of season with some Christmas carols.

Dili relationship celebrates 10 years

Dili delegates with Timorese dancersCouncil hosted representatives from the Central and Municipal government of Timor-Leste 23 – 26 September 2013 as part of celebrations for the 10 year anniversary of the Darwin and Dili Sister City relationship.  His Excellency The Secretary of State for Decentralisation led the delegation of Timorese officials, which reviewed the current agreement, attended a Council meeting and participated in breifings on Animal Management, Waste Management and By-Laws.  The delegation concluded with a Lord Mayoral reception enabling our VIPs from Dili to celebrate with the Darwin community.

Dili Youth in DarwinAcio and Rui meet the Lord Mayor

3 April 2013, Council welcomed Acio and Rui, two youth from Action for Change Foundation (ACF) in Dili to Darwin for 3 weeks work experience with Council.  Acio and Rui participated in National Youth Week events and activities as well as gaining insight into Council Libraries, Youth Services and Healthy Darwin.  To learn a bit more about Acio and Rui, read their interview with GRINDOnline, see photos of their stay or visit the ACF website.

Past Projects

ACF Library facilitiesThanks to funds from City of Darwin and the efforts of Action for Change Foundation (ACF) volunteers, teachers and students at The Training Centre now have a new Library and study area. This new resource complements the exisiting internet cafe and training rooms. The Library project not only provides a valuable resource for the youth of Dili but was a great bonding exercise for ACF staff and volunteers who can now take pride in a facility they created.  Read more about the Library project here or check out the ACF website.

Students with their new basketball court

Students of No. 3 School Tuana-Laran in Dili now have some where to play basketball.  Thanks to Council, East Timorese Sunrise and the Dili Community, students can now exercise and play games on what was previously an empty block of land.  

Council's Dili Sister City Community Committee provided financial support to the development of basketball facilities at the No. 3 School Tuara-Laran in Timor-Leste. Chair of the Committee, Lynne Bigg, presented the first installment at an official meeting which involved all members of the community including government officials, the principal, parents and teachers.  The entire community participates to foster greater commitment to the project.

Committee member Leigh Gregory delivered the second installment and was able to get some photos of the newly built basketball courts.

Timor cup trophyThe East Timor Brothers United successfully hosted the Timor Cup in Darwin 27 December 2011 - 7 January 2012. The event brought together people across Australia and Timor-Leste in a celebration of Timorese culture and a love of soccer. The event gained great publicity nationally and internationally with SBS sports commentator Craig Foster covering the grand final and TVTL featuring it in their news coverage. Proudly supported by Council's Dili Sister Cities Committee.

Northern VoicesOn 12 August 2011, Lord Mayor hosted a welcome reception for Santa Cecilia de Balide and Coro Santo de Antonio de Motael choirs from Dili, Timor-Leste.  The Choirs were visiting Darwin as part of Northern Voices, a Darwin Festival event featuring the sounds of Timor Leste, the Tiwi Islands, Africa, Indonesia, Greece, Australia and the Phillipines in a concert event that is as multicultural as Darwin itself. Watch the impromptu performance guests were treated to.

Lord Mayor was invited to present team jerseys to the players of the Timor-Leste Crocs 10 August 2011.  The Crocs, based in Dili, were stopping in Darwin en route to Sydney to compete in the Australian Football League International Cup.

Dili Delegation

From 28 March until 13th April, City of Darwin hosted three representatives from Action for Change Foundation for a capacity building exchange.  During their time in Darwin, the three young people undertook a range of work experience opportunities including working with Council's Libraries, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts, Red Cross Youth Services, Music NT and 32 Degrees.  The Dili delegation was also involved in the planning and running of the BIG GIG on April 8.  Check out the photos to see what else they got up to.Dili Delegation at the BIG GIG 2011

From the 4th to 8th of October 2010, City of Darwin Information Technology staff member, Mark Bradbury, went to Dili to help install 6 computers that had been donated by CoD.  Despite electricity supply issues, the members of  Action For Change Foundation, with direction from Mark were able to set up the computers with internet connection in their internet café.  Read more about Action for Change on their blog or in their latest newsletter.  To see pictures of the new internet café, click here.

Background and History

Dili BeachDili is the capital of one of the world's newest nations, Timor-Leste, which emerged as an independent nation after years of violence following a vote for independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

According to a report presented to the United Nations in 2006 about 183,200 East Timorese were killed or died between 1975 and 1999, under Indonesia's occupation of the former Portuguese colony.

The territory was under UN Administration until independence on 20 May 2002. The colourful and emotional celebrations that took place in Dili, on that day marked an official end to 450 years of foreign rule over the territory. Darwin's Lord Mayor, Mr Peter Adamson, was there to witness the historic event.

Dili Traditional HouseAs Dili's closest large neighbouring city, Darwin had been assisting Dili in many ways since violence broke out on 30 August 1999, both through Government and Non-Government organisational programs. Darwin had housed refugees, helped fund various projects and had been the source of numerous entrepreneurs and aid workers that spent time in Dili helping at ground level.

In 2001, City of Darwin supplied equipment and expertise through staff exchange and training to help restore and maintain the playing surface and surrounding facilities of the Dili Oval and Stadium.

DiliAgreement was reached to develop a Sister City agreement after an original request from Mr Braz de Carvallo, Dili District Administrator, on 28 March 2002. It was suggested that a Sister City Agreement would formally recognise ties that exist between Darwin and Dili and provide a platform for the people of Dili to express their appreciation.

The Dili Sister City agreement was formally signed on 18 September 2003. Over the past few years numerous delegations both out bound and visiting have strengthened the Darwin/Dili relationship. Linkages with various youth projects, community development activities and material aid have been facilitated.

There is a growing East Timorese community in Darwin and the Sister City arrangement can only further develop the cultural and economic ties that have been built during East Timor's recent history.