We established a formal friendship relationship with Hatobuilico, a disadvantaged and mountainous district in Timor-Leste in 2005. 

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Hatobuilico, Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Blue Mountains Together for Timor Incorporated (BM T4T)
Blue Mountains Timor-Leste groups contacts

Hatobuilico, Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste (East Timor) is one of our nearest neighbours and one of the poorest countries in the world. Australia’s connections go back to the Second World War when the Timorese people gave generous and valuable help to Diggers based in that country. In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and Timor-Leste experienced devastating destruction at the hands of the militia. The country is still struggling to rebuild its infrastructure. 

Following Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002, communities across Australia were seeking to help our near neighbours establish their new nation. With the support of the Australian Government and the new government in Timor-Leste, local councils were encouraged to develop friendship relationships with regional communities in Timor-Leste.

In January 2005, at the request of the then Consul General of Timor-Leste Senor Abel Guterres, Blue Mountains City Council established a formal friendship relationship with Hatobuilico, a disadvantaged and mountainous district in Timor-Leste. Hatobuilico is one of the four sub-districts of Ainaro district and is located inland south west of capital Dili, at an altitude of 2,400m above sea level on the slopes of Mount Ramelau (2,963m). Hatobuilico was chosen because, like the Blue Mountains, it is place of distinct natural beauty and has the potential to grow its local economy through tourism. 

The Blue Mountains Hatobuilico Friendship Committee is one of almost 40 friendship groups around Australia. These groups promote respect and support for Timorese-led decision-making and sustainable and long-term assistance, based on partnerships of mutual respect and collaboration. More details can be seen on the Australia Timor Friendship Network’s website.

The Friendship Committee is an advisory committee of Council and its role is to provide advice to Council on how the friendship relationship is progressing. Its main activities are:

  • Supporting the work of Blue Mountains community organisations which are fundraising and/or developing community projects with the local community in Hatobuilico.
  • Providing information and advice to Council on developments in Australian/Timor-Leste relationships.
  • Receiving visiting dignitaries from Timor-Leste. 
  • The committee comprises two councillors and several community members and meets quarterly to discuss ways in which the Blue Mountains community can work with the people of Hatobuilico. Since 2005 members of the committee have made dozens of self-funded visits to Timor-Leste to find out the needs of the community and support community development projects. 

Realising the goals of the Council’s friendship relationship with Hatobuilico has been made possible through partnerships with Blue Mountains community organisations that have fundraised and managed projects to support development in Hatobuilico.

Blue Mountains Together for Timor Incorporated (BM T4T)

BM T4T is the local incorporated non-government organisation which supports Blue Mountains projects and activities beneficial to Hatobuilico communities. It aims to increase access to education, economic independence and sustainability, encourage community development and transfer knowledge and skills. It auspices the BM Trek for Timor every two years whereby funds raised go towards community identified projects. T4T works in partnership with Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters on this and many other projects.

BM Together For Timor Projects so far have included: 

  • Building of a Primary School at Taurema.
  • Establishment of a Senior Secondary School in Hatobuilico Vila and funding stipends for teachers.
  • Development of six women’s projects and building of Mauchiga Women’s Centre.
  • Refurbishment of a community centre for training and community meetings.
  • Administration of scholarships for students to attend university in Dili.
  • Collaborations between schools in Timor–Leste and Blue Mountains.
  • Sanitation and Water projects.
  • Sports & school equipment, readers and guitars for schools .
  • Hatobuilico website hatubuilico.com, tourism development and guide training.
  • Hedge seedlings to counteract the effects of deforestation.
  • Hatobuilico walking guide - a series of guided walks. 

Blue Mountains Timor-Leste groups contacts

Blue Mountains Together for Timor: Chairperson Mary Waterford 

Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters: Convener: Lesley Sammon. Visit the website for more information bmets.org.au, the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BlueMountainsEastTimorSisters or email bmets@bmets.org.au.

Springwood East Timor Support Group: Dennis Farrar 

For more information on the Blue Mountains Hatobuilico Friendship Committee please contact Councillor Romola Hollywood - rhollywood@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or 0414 195 983.