The VU Timor-Leste Alliance

Victoria University aspires to be an international university making a distinctive contribution to the Asian Century through key partnerships. Our long standing commitment to Timor-Leste, through contributions to education, economy, society and environment is one such key partnership.


The University's strategic plan is explicit in its commitment to Timor Leste where the University has had a long involvement and has continued to host the Honorary Consulate of Timor-Leste in Melbourne since before Timor-Leste's independence.

In 2011, we consolidated our partnership with the National University of Timor-Leste, Universidade Nasional Timor Lorosa'e (UNTL) and the Dili Institute of Technology (DIT).

Prior to this, in 2009, Victoria University Chancellor, Justice Frank Vincent and the President of Dili Institute of Technology (DIT), Kirsty Sword-Gusmao signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions. The MoU recognises the special relationship that has developed between VU and DIT since its inception in 2002.

Joint international conferences

Joint activities with UNTL, with whom we have had a partnership since 2002, include a biannual conference focusing on issues facing Timor Leste's development, and a 'Timor-Leste, History, Politics and Society' study tour lead by Dr Helen Hill to study the intervening years.

Victoria University and the National University of Timor-Leste, Universidade Nasional Timor Lorosa'e (UNTL) jointly host a conference every two years.

The conferences came about as a result of an initial invitation in 1998 by the Resistance Coalition, the CNRT, to Victoria University to co-host a conference before the ballot for independence.

The first conference on Strategic Development Planning for Timor-Leste was held at VU's Melbourne Campus and funded by the Australian Government. Further conferences included 2009Transforming Timor-Leste for Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Peace and 2011 Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills for Timor-Leste's Development.

The latest UNTL joint conference was held in July 2015.

The Prime Minister of Timor-Leste delivered the keynote address at the conference, underlining the importance of education in the development of Timor-Leste.

 Timor-Leste conference: Finding Pathways in Education (13 –14 July 2015)

Website: Timor-Leste conference: Finding Pathways in Education

The two-day public affairs conference addressed how students access appropriate courses and careers, and how Timor-Leste as a country is finding a way to readdress the skill gaps.

Host: This conference was hosted by Victoria University in co-operation with the National University of Timor Loro Sa’e (UNTL).

When: The conference was held from 13 – 14 July 2015 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Read the Finding Pathways in Education conference proceedings.

 Future directions for food in Timor-Leste (11-12 July 2013)

Website: Future directions for food in Timor-Leste

A two-day conference held in July 2013 with a focus on improving nutrition, cuisine, food markets and rural livelihoods in East Timor.

Dr Edmund Viegas, Vice Rector of UNTL on behalf of Professor Aurelio Guterres, Rector of UNTL, and Professor Peter Dawkins, welcomed government ministers, international and local speakers, attendees and academic staff and students of both universities.

The two-day conference provided great opportunity for interaction and exchange of ideas. The focus was on food and nutrition in Timor-Leste and debate around food production, distribution, financing and infrastructure, governance and education.

The four thematic streams were:

  • Food as nature
  • Food as nourishment
  • Food as commodity
  • Food as culture.
Host: This conference was hosted by Victoria University in co-operation with the National University of Timor Loro Sa’e (UNTL).

When: The conference was held from 11 – 12 July 2013 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

 Knowledge, attitudes & skills for Timor-Leste's development (4 –5 July 2011)

Website: Knowledge, attitudes & skills for Timor-Leste's development

A two-day conference that examined a number of policy areas which are key to the success of Timor-Leste’s development. It provided an opportunity for staff and students of all Timorese universities, together with civil society members and Australian and other visitors, to engage in dialogue around some of the major development issues, ones often neglected by political parties.

The main body of conference deliberations will take place in parallel streams:

  • Agriculture and rural livelihoods
  • Education
  • Financial inclusion
  • Infrastructure and National Systems
  • Law and Justice
  • Trade health
  • Youth transitions.
Host: This conference was hosted by Victoria University in co-operation with the National University of Timor Loro Sa’e (UNTL).

When: The conference was help from 4 – 11 July 2011 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Other conferences

Working together with Timor-Leste: The next 10 years conference and expo held in Preston in 2014. The conference was open to all people interested in Timor-Leste's future development and featured keynote speaker Sr Agio Pereira, Minister of State and President of the Council of Ministers. Other speakers included representatives of:

  • friendship groups
  • Timor-Leste and Australian government
  • civil society organisations.


Our alliance with Timor-Leste brings with it connections to some distinguished and inspiring people.

In 2014, Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao was awarded an honorary degree by the University. The honour recognises her outstanding community service in championing the importance of education in improving the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

In 2011, award-winning musician and environmentalist Ego Lemos received his Masters Degree in International Community Development. In 2012, he was a finalist in the Honorary Lifetime Alumni Service Awards. His thesis explores agriculture and rural livelihoods in his homeland of Timor-Leste.

A highlight of the VU–Timor-Leste partnership is VU’s relationship with José Ramos-Horta, a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his lifelong fight for his country’s freedom, and who was the president of his country from 2007 until 2012.

In 2001 he was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at VU, an honorary position conferred on those who have achieved national or international eminence in their field. In July 2009, the University bestowed on him an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his outstanding commitment to the defence of human rights and his contribution to establishing Timor-Leste independence.

Study tours & exchanges

VU has supported vocational and higher education development in Timor-Leste for many years. By focusing on the country’s intellectual infrastructure, VU provides educational projects, study tours and student exchanges which continue to make a real difference in the ability of the fledgling nation to build its skills and capacities.

Timor-Leste Collection

The Timor-Leste Collection in the VU Library features a range of books, reports, journals, newsletters, yearbooks and pamphlets that focus chiefly on Timor-Leste as an independent nation but also cover its occupation by other countries.

The collection's strengths are economics, development and trade, politics, governance and administration, education, culture, society and history.

The collection was formed after an initial donation in March 2012 from the Oxfam Australia Library.

Accessing the Collection

The Timor-Leste Collection is located within the Special Collection room at Footscray Park Library. Items may not be taken out of the library.

How to access the Timor-Leste Collection.


Dr Rob Brown
Executive Director - Engagement & Government Relations
Phone: +61 3 9919 4005