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heading foldHow we are helping

2012/13 Expenditure

$119.5 million

2013/14 Proposed Expenditure

$115.6 million


Expenditure is total official development assistance inclusive of DFAT’s bilateral program, flows from DFAT regional and global programs and other government departments.

Implementation of the revised 2013-14 budget is currently under discussion with partner governments and organisations.


Timor-Leste is one of Australia’s closest neighbours as well as one of the newest nations in the world. Since Timor-Leste's independence in 2002, Australia has been its largest development partner. Australia provides assistance to help build new institutions and to deliver improved services including in health and education, and increase access to water and sanitation. As Timor-Leste moves beyond its history of conflict, Australia is changing the way we work. Development assistance is now delivered under a Strategic Planning Agreement for Development (2011) based on priorities taken directly from Timor-Leste’s own vision for its future, the Strategic Development Plan 2012–2030.

Australia has invested $344.7 million in Timor-Leste over the previous three years. Our investment has contributed to important development results including:

  • helping 31,500 farmers grow improved varieties of rice, maize, sweet potato, cassava and peanuts, with yield increases of between 20 per cent and 80 per cent
  • assisting more than 77,000 people gain access to safe water and 67,000 people have gained access to basic sanitation facilities (since 2008)
  • supporting 475 monthly mobile health clinics that visit villages to provide antenatal care, family planning advice, child immunisation and growth monitoring, and basic nutritional education
  • building or repairing about 2100 classrooms, allowing more children to go to school and learn in better and safer conditions (since 2007).

More results can be viewed under the ‘See our results’ tab above.

Australia expects to provide $115.6 million in development assistance to Timor-Leste in 2013–14. Australia remains committed to delivering results in Timor-Leste and our development assistance is expected to have a resounding impact in future years. We will:

  • assist Timor-Leste reach its goal of rehabilitating all rural roads by 2015, creating some 52,000 jobs by 2016 and bringing opportunities to the rural poor
  • support Timor-Leste’s target of providing 75 per cent of the rural population with access to a safe water supply by 2015
  • seek to provide quality basic education to 93 per cent of 6–14 year olds and reducing the drop-out rate to five per cent by 2015.

More on expected outcomes can be viewed under the ‘See our results’ tab above.

Economic development

  • Australia has helped 35,500 farming families to increase agricultural productivity by using improved crop varieties, with demonstrated yield increases of between 20 and 80%.
  • Since 2010, our rural road works programs have engaged 32,500 workers (28% of whom were women and 44% youths), resulting in an average earning of US $281 per person. This provided cash for housing, starting a business, school needs and food.
  • Since 2008, microfinance institutions supported by Australian aid have provided loans and other financial services to 5500 new clients, almost all of these women.
  • These rural development results also contribute to health and education outcomes. For example Australian support is improving nutrition by increasing crop production, improving access to schools and clinics through improvements to rural roads.

Read more about economic development


  • In 2011, 500,000 vulnerable children were immunised against measles with our help.
  • Australian assistance has helped to improve community health through support for 442 monthly mobile health clinics that deliver health services to villages, resulting in better community nutrition and higher child immunisation rates.
  • Australia supported 39,000 people to attend sexual reproductive health education sessions, with 18,200 people also receiving clinical services and 8000 people taking up safer family planning methods.
  • More than 77,000 people have been provided with access to safe water, and 67,000 people with access to improved sanitation facilities since 2008.
  • Through the training of 54 of Timor-Leste’s midwives and the provision of training in surgery and anaesthesia, we are supporting Timorese women to deliver healthy babies.
  • We have helped to improve quality of life for over 4,800 people by restoring their eyesight through cataract surgery.
  • We have strengthened human resources in the health sector by providing over 119 overseas scholarships to Timorese in medicine and health administration.
  • We have helped to improve the quality of health facilities through the building of community health posts and procurement of medical equipment, including emergency obstetric equipment for 32 new maternal health clinics.

Read more about health


  • We have contributed to the enrolment of nearly 35,000 additional children into primary schools across Timor-Leste, an increase of 17% from 2007 to 2011.
  • Australia supported the Government of Timor-Leste to build or repair about 2100 classrooms since 2008. These classrooms are allowing more children to go to school and learn in better and safer conditions.
  • Our assistance has provided 94,500 books in Tetum to every primary school in the country (75 books per school) to improve reading skills.
  • Australia has delivered nearly 1.4 million school materials to primary schools across Timor-Leste. These materials include student and teacher resources such as worksheets, magazines and books and are helping students to learn better.
  • We created short-term jobs in road building for over 110,000 people, mostly youths, providing them with important livelihood assistance and helping to maintain around 3500 kilometres of roads since 2008.
  • Australian assistance has supported around 8000 people, most of them young men and women, to participate in skills development programs to help them get jobs.

Read more about education


  • Supported the Ministry of Finance to improve its systems for government spending so that over 90% of Timor-Leste’s budget was spent in 2010, compared with only 49% in 2006–07.
  • Helped to address the impacts of domestic violence by providing safe houses and legal assistance for affected women and their children.
  • With assistance from Australia the Government of Timor-Leste is developing a national program to provide grants to every village. By 2013 this will enable communities across Timor-Leste to build their own infrastructure such as roads, schools and irrigation systems.
  • Australia helped establish the Civil Service Commission (CSC) which is placing controls around the expansion of Timor-Leste’s civil service and addressing poor performance in the public sector. In 2010 the CSC suspended the salaries of over 363 officers who had abandoned their employment.
  • Australian support also helped establish Timor-Leste’s Anti-Corruption Commission which is working to ensure that Timor-Leste’s national wealth is spent in the interests of the Timorese people.
  • The police and courts are now using a shared case management system that makes it easier to track the progress of cases. This should lead to faster resolution of cases.

Read more about governance

Research overview

Research funded by Australian Aid specifically targets Timor-Leste’s development challenges. Some highlights of this research are listed below.

Violence Against Women in Melanesia and East Timor: Building on Global and Regional Promising Approaches

Violence Against Women in Melanesia and East Timor: Building on Global and Regional Promising Approaches

Australia undertook a study to assess the effectiveness of methods currently used to address violence against women and girls in five of Australia’s neighbouring countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste.

More than 700 individuals and representatives of government, non-government organisations (NGOs) and international organisations were involved, together with experts determined to push for change in each country.

The result is a package of reports that outlines the perspectives and hopes of a broad spectrum of Melanesian and Timorese society. They also consider approaches used locally and internationally to recommend a framework for action to address violence against women in the region. The framework is based on three strategies:

  • Increasing women’s access to justice
  • Increasing women’s access to support services
  • Prevention of violence.

Health seeking behaviour in East Timor

East Timor health care seeking behaviour study

Low rates of use of public health services present a major challenge to improving population health in East Timor. The 2009 Health Care Seeking Behaviour Study was designed to improve understanding of the underlying causes of low use, particularly in rural areas, and to provide an evidence base for future health policy, planning and programs.

This study provided new and detailed information about health care practices in all 13 districts of East Timor. It provided insights into decision-making and action in rural communities, including around choice of provider or services. The study also gathered rich qualitative data in relation to three key scenarios: a child with diarrhoea, a difficult birth, and birth spacing. The study also recorded user and provider perspectives.

Disability and rural water, sanitation and hygiene in Timor-Leste

Disability and rural water, sanitation and hygiene in Timor-Leste

This 2010 study investigated the experiences of people with disabilities in rural Timor-Leste regarding access to water and sanitation facilities. The research summarised existing disability data, documented personal stories, and examined ways of enabling stakeholders to reflect on the needs, and inclusion, of people with disabilities.

Data on disability in Timor-Leste was fairly scant at the time of the study, but disability was seen to influence access to education and employment, relationships, transport and basic activities of daily living – bathing, toileting, cooking, eating, dressing, washing clothes and cleaning.

Recommendations covered the promotion of inclusive programs, the importance of education about disability, the necessity for consultation and partnership, the priority of access for all, and understanding about disability hygiene and the importance of access to water for women.

Timor-Leste – Water and Sanitation Sector Financial Management Analysis

Water and Sanitation Sector Financial Management Analysis

Through the Bee, Saneamentu no Igene Komunidade (BESIK) program, Australia provides funding to the Government of Timor-Leste’s budget allocations to water supply, sanitation and personal hygiene, including in rural areas.

This paper presents findings of an initial analysis of the impacts of public financial management (PFM) systems on the delivery of water and sanitation services to rural areas in Timor-Leste.

The paper identifies PFM-related bottlenecks at three levels: Government-wide; inter-agency; and within the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Health. It considers action to address bottlenecks.


heading fold Why we give aid


Timor-Leste and Australia have a close relationship based on shared values and interests, and underpinned by strong people-to-people links. There are many Australians working in Timor-Leste and many Timorese have lived, worked and studied in Australia. Timor-Leste is one of the world's poorest nations. Life expectancy is 67 years and 45 per cent of children in Timor-Leste are underweight for their age. Overall, 37per cent of Timorese live below the international poverty line of USD1.25 a day.

Find out more about why we give aid to Timor-Leste


heading fold How we give aid

Australia is Timor-Leste’s largest development partner. How Australia provides development assistance is as important as the amount we provide. Australia provides development assistance under the Partnership Agreement framework (Strategic Planning Agreement for Development). The Agreement is based on principles of trust, mutual respect and shared accountability. Our programs focus on the priorities of the Timorese government with an emphasis on increasing access to basic services, economic opportunities, and quality of life for poor Timorese.

Find out more about how we give aid to Timor-Leste

Read the Australia–Timor-Leste Country Strategy 2009 to 2014


heading foldProgress Against MDGs

  • Eradicate extreme hunger & poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability

Demographic and development statistics
for Timor- Leste


Last reviewed: 18 January, 2014