Timor-Leste

Australians respond to call to help rebuild East Timor

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Australian Volunteers International has announced today that it has established a register of skilled Australians willing to assist in the rehabilitation of East Timor.
CEO Bill Armstrong said the register is a response to a large number of unsolicited calls from people around Australia offering their skills to help the East Timorese people. It is also a response to an invitation from East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao, who has requested a team of Australian Volunteers to support the longer-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of his country once the emergency relief effort has subsided.

"In the aftermath of the tsunamis that devastated PNG late last year, we sent in a team of skilled Australian Volunteer health and construction workers. Now the call has gone out," says Armstrong, "for Australians to help another neighbour in need the people of East Timor."

Armstrong said that once the current military situation is under control, and the rebuilding begins, East Timor will need assistance from people with a variety of skills. "Not only will Australians with medical skills be needed to help the sick, malnourished and injured," he said, "but those with building know-how and related skills will also be required. Our register of willing, skilled and able volunteers means we are prepared, when the time comes, to put round pegs in round holes."

"The people of East Timor are going to need our support for a long time. They need people - people with skills who are willing to lend a hand in the tradition of international volunteering. And, that's what this register database is all about," said Armstrong.

Australian Volunteers International has a long history of assisting developing communities throughout the world. Since the first Australian Volunteers ventured to Indonesia in 1951, more than 5000 Australians have volunteered to share their skills with others in need.

Australian Volunteers International recruited 26 Australian Volunteers for the UNAMET force that oversaw the recent referendum in East Timor. "Almost half of those polling officers have indicated a willingness to return there to support rebuilding efforts. Some are waiting in Darwin as we speak."

Armstrong said the situation in East Timor will hopefully become clearer in the next few weeks. He asked Australians who are happy to help out to contact the following toll free number: 1800 33 1292. Australian Volunteers International is also accepting donations to help support the reconstruction effort.

For media inquiries and/or to arrange an interview please telephone Paul Barber, Australian Volunteers International Media & Public Affairs Telephone 03 9279 1763; mobile 0413 756 023; fax 03 9419 4280; email pbarber@ozvol.org.au

Australian Volunteers International (formerly Overseas Service Bureau - est. 1961)