Australia working with East Timor to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development

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I am pleased today to have the opportunity to meet with President Xanana Gusmao and reconfirm the Australian Government's commitment to provide a total of $42 million to East Timor in 2005-2006 in official development assistance.
The Australian aid program assists countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. In East Timor we are working in partnership with the Government, the international community and other donors to help build East Timor's own capacity to govern a peaceful, democratic and independent nation.

Australia's bilateral development program to East Timor has exceeded $400 million since 1999. In recognition of the challenges facing the new nation, our assistance has been broad-based covering governance, health, rural development, and water supply and sanitation.

Australia's contribution has led to significant achievements so far. For example 60,000 people in 77 communities in East Timor now have access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Australian aid has also funded mental health and dental care systems in all districts.

More than 115 East Timorese students have been awarded scholarships to study at Australian institutions and around 200 small grants are provided each year for community development activities managed by East Timorese community groups and non-government organisations.

The Australian Government is committed to East Timor's ongoing stability and security. A joint AusAID/Australian Federal Police program worth $32 million is providing long-term support for the development of a professional and adequately resourced national police force. Support is also being given to strengthen the justice sector.

Over the next 3 years there will continue to be a major focus on law and justice, improved governance, particularly in budget planning, and management to support the delivery of basic services.

A Sector Investment Program, initiated by Australia is helping to prioritise East Timor's development needs and allocating funds from donor and government sources. This is in addition to support to key finance and planning agencies to improve accountability, transparency, budget preparation and public expenditure management.

Australia's aid and foreign policy objectives recognise the importance of water to regional growth and stability. Australia will continue to work with East Timor to improve services, especially in water and sanitation, for the rural population. Subject to agreement and approval by both Governments, there is the potential for up to $5 million per year being directed to this area over the period 2006-2011.

Media inquiries:

Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's office) 0419 206 890
AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 590