Australian aid in Timor-Leste

Australian aid in Timor-Leste


Through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and a range of government, multilateral and non-government agencies, Australia supports a range of development activities in Timor-Leste.

In recent years, AusAID organised specific programs targeted at security and policing, including the Australia East Timor Police Development Program and the Law and Justice Development Program.

At times, there has been controversy over the use and abuse of aid programs to support Australian policy interests (including an incident under the former Howard government where aid was cancelled for Timorese NGOs that criticised Australian policy on oil exploration and development in the Timor Gap).

Government sources

Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

Australian aid activities in Timor

Australia-East Timor Police Development Program

Contribution: $32 million  Duration: 2004 – 2009

“The program aims to maintain a safe, stable environment in East Timor conducive to economic and social development. The program will help strengthen the capacity of the police service to keep law and order while respecting human rights. The program aims to help the East Timor’s police force develop and review policies, effectively manage its finances and personnel and use suitable operating procedures. The program will build a community policing capability and promote sustainable approaches to police training. The Australian Federal Police are implementing the program. …The program has trained, in collaboration with the United Nations, over 800 staff within East Timor’s police service, resulting in better, more accountable and more effective law enforcement. Australian support has increased the capacity of East Timor’s national police to undertake various investigative and administrative tasks, including training recruits. Australian advisors are helping reinstate national police operations in Dili and have enabled the continuation of district policing.”

Law and Justice Development Program

Contribution: $8.0 million Duration: 2003 – 2008

“Australia provides support to East Timor’s law and justice sector to help justice and oversight institutions protect against destabilising bottlenecks in the legal and judicial system and to improve stability. In support of these objectives and to ensure good donor cooperation, AusAID provides funding to the UNDP Strengthening the Justice System in East Timor project. Further initiatives for the sector are under development, in collaboration with the Government of East Timor.”

Reducing Violence Against Women in Melanesia and East Timor, Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Housing, Minister for the Status of Women and Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, media release. 11 August 2009

The Australian Government today launched a new report that outlines Australia’s framework for reducing violence against women in Melanesia and East Timor. The framework follows an AusAID Office of Development Effectiveness report last year which found violence against women in Melanesia and East Timor is severe, pervasive and constrains development. The Stop Violence: Responding to violence against women in Melanesia and East Timor report can be found at”

Non-government activities

Non-government activities

Australian Council for International Development

Commentary and analysis

La’o Hamutuk Submission, Australian Senate Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific, Parliament of Australia, November 2008.

“Construction of community infrastructure by the ISF, such as schools and clinics, raises the question in people’s minds whether the community will miss out on future infrastructure if they complain about the Australian military. These activities can reinforce the dwi fungsi (dual function) precedent set by the Indonesian military, that security forces should make and implement decisions on the allocation of public infrastructure. We encourage the ISF in finding ways to make a positive contribution to local communities – for example we commend recent efforts on local procurement, but ask that it also respect the civil-military separation. We welcome Australian non-military support for community facilities.”

“Goodbye Conflict, Welcome Development” Papers from 2009 Timor-Leste and Development Partners Meeting, Dili, 2-4 April 2009, La’o Hamutuk website.

“Goodbye Conflict, Welcome Development” Papers from 2009 Timor-Leste and Development Partners Meeting, Dili, 2-4 April 2009, La’o Hamutuk website.

East Timor country paper, “Violence against women in Melanesia and East Timor” project, AusAID Office of Development Effectiveness.

Timor-Leste – Cuba Health Cooperation, La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 2, August 2008.

Timor-Leste – Cuba Health Cooperation, La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 2, August 2008.

NGO Forum Tau Matan , La’o Hamutuk website.

Debate and documents on cancellation of Australian aid funds to NGO Forum Tau Matan after NGOs signed a letter asking the Australian government to respect international maritime law in the Timor Sea Negotiations.