Victoria University (VU) 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.

Timor-Leste is referenced in Victoria University’s Strategic Plan (2016–2020), showing our deep commitment to continuing collaborative work in Timor-Leste.


The University has been engaged with Timor-Leste continuously for over 30 years. We have hosted the Honorary Consulate of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste at our Flinders Lane Campus for many years (with the kind support of the Victorian Government), and have close links with the Timor-Leste National Government and its various departments.

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

Prior to this, in 2009, VU 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 Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa'e (UNTL), with whom VU have had a partnership since 2002, includes a biennial conference focusing on issues facing Timor-Leste's development.

The conferences came about as a result of an initial invitation in 1998 by the Resistance Coalition, the CNRT, to VU 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:

  • 2021 – Higher Education adapting to the COVID era
  • 2019 – Young People planning their future and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • 2017 – Finding Pathways to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Timor-Leste
  • 2015 – Finding Pathways in Education
  • 2013 – Future directions for food in Timor-Leste
  • 2011 – Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills for Timor-Leste's Development
  • 2009 – Transforming Timor-Leste for Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Peace.

Website: Webinar series: Higher Education adapting to the COVID era

This five-day webinar series addressed five key issues in higher education that have been made more critical by COVID. These webinars addressed the following questions:

  • What educational resources are needed for quality teaching and learning?
  • How can technologies, including mobile phones, be used for off-campus teaching?
  • How can a university teach community development and the relevance of CD skills?
  • How can universities promote gender equality and make campuses safe?
  • How can education support public health priorities in the COVID era?

Website: Timor-Leste Conference: Young People and the SDGs

This two-day public affairs conference focused on the role of young people and the SDG's in Timor-Leste's development.

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

When: 1–2 July 2019 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted a series of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each with a number of targets and indicators to achieve by 2030. These goals enable the international community to set realistic goals in addressing climate change and inequitable development.

This two-day public affairs conference used the SDGs as a starting point to promote more holistic discussion on directions for Timor-Leste's development. The conference included representation from the UN Development Program along with Timor-Leste members of government.

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

When: The conference was held from 4–5 July 2017 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Read the Finding Pathways to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Timor-Leste conference recommendations report (PDF, 623 KB).

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 cooperation 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.

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 cooperation with the National University of Timor Loro Sa’e (UNTL).

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

Read the Future directions for food in Timor-Leste conference program.

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 cooperation with the National University of Timor Loro Sa’e (UNTL).

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

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.

Ego Lemos presents at the 2019 Conference. 

2019 Conference attendees on the final day.

Voz Timor

The 2019 UNTL/VU Conference, Young People and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inspired a number of opportunities for VU to advocate for action in response to important recommendations from Timorese academics, researchers, community workers and in particular young people, on how they can advance the SDGs in Timor-Leste.

One of those opportunities is the new VU-led magazine, aptly named Voz Timor (Voice Timor). It aims to draw attention to the ways in which Timor-Leste is making, and can continue to make, progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

It includes articles derived from the Conference and other issues pertaining to Timor-Leste’s sustainable development twenty years after the vote for independence in 1999.

Voz Timor news

PDF edition

Read the latest edition of Voz Timor, March 2020.


Would you like to contribute to future editions? Contact the editor [email protected] with your content idea.


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

Kirsty Sword Gusmao

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.

Ego Lemos

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.

José Ramos-Horta

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.

I am passionate about supporting rural women through my NGO ‘Strong Women Working Together’. I want to apply my academic skills in community development to engage the community in consultation, project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes using a participatory approach.”

Gizela de Carvalho Master of International Community Development Women’s activist, Timor-Leste (Strong Women Working Together) VU Foundation Timor-Leste Scholarship recipient.

Study tours & exchange

VU has supported vocational and higher education development in Timor-Leste for many years.

We foster opportunities for its students in selected discipline areas to include Timor-Leste studies as part of their course, complemented by an opportunity for a planned in-country study experience.

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.


Yvette Petersen
Associate Director, Alumni and Development
Phone: +61 3 9919 1309
Email: [email protected]