Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1456..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
understand from briefings that I received at the time that upwards of 30 per cent of all children in East Timor have no formal schooling, do not attend school, that unemployment is incredibly high and that many children who live within rural communities do not have a school to access.
The advice and the information provided by Ms Kirsty Sword Gusmao in her speech here went to issues around average levels of income and employment. Employment is very scarce. There are incredibly high levels of unemployment, high levels of illiteracy, high levels of no schooling at all and, as indicated previously, high levels of issues such as personal violence and abuse.
I visited a school in Dili during my time there. It is very sobering for those of us in a privileged city in a privileged nation, such as Canberra within Australia, to attend the school of a neighbour where there were no windows, where there is an urban poor, where the students were still using boards rather than books for lessons. and where there is essentially absolutely no infrastructure other than the four bare walls and a tin roof. Benches and stools are the entire infrastructure within a school setting for some schools in Dili.
It is important that we continue to work with Dili in a friendship relationship to show and extend that hand that can perhaps lead to the development of some advances for the people of Dili. The workshop that Mr Gentleman was very much a part of was very significant in preparing action plans and taking the ideas and strategies discussed at such meetings by those schools to the next stage. That will involve, as I understand it, a study tour of East Timor, which is planned for September 2006, and I am sure real results will be born out of the friendship relationship.
But education does not of course start and end with school. Our own CIT has recognised that education and training are critical to the sustainable development of Timor-Leste and has provided ongoing support to the Dili Institute of Technology. Ventures that have been undertaken to date include a staff exchange for two teachers from the Dili Institute of Technology to gain training and development in automotive skills; provision of resources and equipment to enable the institute to deliver automotive training, including books for the library; an offer of support from engineering design at CIT to assist with campus redevelopment of the Dili institute, in conjunction with an initiative of Canberra Friends of Dili; provision of advice and encouragement as the Dili institute seeks to improve its governance arrangements; and encouragement to the Dili institute to apply for recognition as a public organisation from the East Timor government.
I hope that our friendship with East Timor grows deeper in the coming months and years. I personally wish to see the scope of our involvement widen to encompass, as I mentioned before, initiatives in the areas of personal security and communications. At the moment, the ACT government, through the Chief Minister's Department, is negotiating with the Dili district administration on a project for each of those areas. We have been long working with the Dili district administration on a communications project, which has been hampered by the lack of access to appropriate or secure technology and a communications band.
In addition, we are working with the Dili district administration, with the United Nations on Dili, to seek to provide some communication strategy by the Dili district