Speech at Timor-Leste National Hospital

  • Speech, check against delivery

JULIE BISHOP: Goodmorning, and I'm delighted to be here in Dili, on the third day of a visit tounderscore the deep connections and partnerships between Australia andTimor-Leste. I acknowledge the presence of the Acting Minister for Health, theVice Minister for Social Solidarity, the Secretary of State for Equality andInclusion. Ambassador Guterres, it is wonderful to see you here, and thank youto our Ambassador and the Australian Embassy team for putting together such anextensive program. They have been working me from morning through to late inthe evening, but it has given me a marvellous opportunity to meet withrepresentatives of the government, and I had the honour of meeting with thePresident, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister andother senior government members.

Today hereat National Hospital, I've already met a number of the representatives andofficials, and thank you for your very warm welcome. Australia and Timor-Lesteare partners in so many different fields. In the 20 years, almost, sinceINTERFET, Australia has made a priority of improving health outcomes inTimor-Leste, empowering women and focusing on gender equality. From the veryhighest levels within the Australian Government, across the Australian people,it is our desire to see Timor-Leste as a confident, prosperous and independentnation - safe, secure and healthy, where the women and girls of Timor-Lestehave equal opportunities to live fulfilled and happy lives.

Today I amdelighted to build on previous work that Australia has done in partnership withTimor-Leste. We have built a cohort of health professionals here over a numberof years. We've established an ambulance system. We've helped with the deliveryof essential services, and through our development assistance program, we haveseen some positive outcomes in terms of infant mortality, maternal mortality,nutrition rates and the like. But there is still so much more for us to do inhealth and gender equality, and today I announce that the Australian Governmentwill invest a further AUD$20 million in initiatives.


Thank you. Initiativesthat target particular health and gender equality outcomes, and we have fourprograms. The first is Stronger Systems for Health and Security, and this is aresearch project. It is focusing on communicable diseases, the transmission ofinfection and the development of antibiotic resistance. What we need to do iswork in partnership to ensure that we can tackle some of these challenges.First, the partnership will involve the Ministry of Health National Hospitaland national laboratories and the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.This kind of collaboration will focus on these issues of communicable diseaseand the transmission of infections, and how we can meet those challenges.

The secondinitiative is called Liga Familia. Itmeans "Connecting Families", and it buildson a wonderful project about connecting mothers. Under the Connecting Mother'sprogram, we have about 32,000 mums during various stages of pregnancy who usewhat's called 'nudge' technology. On your device, up comes a little message totell you it's time to have an appointment, time to see your doctor, and weunderstand that through this application there have been much better maternalhealth outcomes.

So our newprogram of Connecting Families is targeted at the fathers, to ensure that thisnudge technology reminds them of their responsibilities on their partners andchildren's health. It's ensuring that families can work together for betterhealth outcomes, and I'm assured by the operators of this technology thatfathers will respond very well to messages on their device telling them it'stime to set aside money for the birth of their child, to support their partnerin health issues. So the men of Timor-Leste, look forward to having this nudgetechnology on your mobile phones.

The thirdproject is EQUI-T Plus and this is about better maternal health outcomes,better access to family planning and reproductive health measures - animportant issue here in Timor-Leste.

The finaland fourth initiative is Nabilan. This is our flagship program designed tofocus on a scourge that afflicts many societies across the world, and that isthe issue of gender-based or domestic violence. We struggle with this issue inAustralia. The prevalence is too high across the Indo-Pacific. We want to workwith partners in Timor-Leste to focus on this issue, to prevent it and to findways to support the victims of it through the justice system, through workingwith other partners, to support women who are subjected to violence, but moreimportantly to change attitudes, to educate and to inform. The message must bethat violence against women is unacceptable, anywhere, anytime, by anybody

I'm verymuch looking forward to visiting each of the displays here today. I'm veryproud to see the Australian Aid logo and the flags of Timor-Leste and Australia- because that highlights for us all here today the deep and enduringpartnership between Australia and Timor-Leste. This is a young nation, not yet18 years old. About three-quarters of your population is under the age of 35.That means there are many challenges, but it also means enormous opportunitieslie ahead, and Australia wants to continue to be a reliable partner and atrusted friend of Timor-Leste. Together we can achieve great things for yourpeople and we can achieve a bright future for Timor-Leste.

Media enquiries