Overview of Australia's aid program to Timor-Leste

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$108.1 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$96.6 million

Australia has a strong interest in a prosperous and stable Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste is one of Australia’s closest neighbours and one of the newest nations in the world. Since Timor-Leste's independence in 2002, Australia has been its largest development partner. Through the Australia–Timor-Leste Strategic Planning Agreement for Development, we share a commitment to achieve Timor-Leste’s development goals.

As a post-conflict state, Timor-Leste has made considerable progress in the past twelve years. Timor-Leste has recently enjoyed a fast-growing economy and its longest period of stability since independence. Human development indicators continue to improve—but from a very low base.

Over two thirds of Timorese still live below US$2 a day. The country’s mainly subsistence-based agriculture sector struggles with low productivity and limited access to markets. The private sector is small and weak. Businesses face considerable obstacles, including difficulties accessing finance, a low-skilled workforce and poor infrastructure. The maternal mortality rate is the highest in the region, while school enrolment has improved, but the quality of education remains poor. Women face significant barriers in accessing education and employment and high rates of domestic violence. And nutrition remains a major concern: 50 per cent of children under five years have stunting—one of the highest rates in the world.

Better access to education, clean water, roads and job opportunities will increase Timor-Leste’s economic growth and reduce poverty. Infrastructure development and business investment will also contribute to Timor-Leste’s development. Stability and security will be critical to achieving this, as well as improved agricultural productivity and market access. By providing more Timorese, especially women, with basic services and job opportunities, Timor-Leste will foster a population better able to contribute to their country’s future development.

In 2014-15, the Australian development assistance program will work with the Timorese Government and communities to improve access to quality basic services, and to increase income opportunities for all Timorese, especially women.

Australia will help promote stronger trade, agriculture productivity and private sector development in Timor-Leste through:

  • working with central government ministries to improve public financial management systems, develop fiscal policy frameworks, and improve procurement procedures
  • assisting farmers to increase agricultural productivity and access to markets to boost household income and nutrition levels
  • working with the Government of Timor-Leste to promote inclusive growth, expanding trade opportunities and increasing private sector development.

Australia will invest in education, skills development training and higher education so that more Timorese can improve their job opportunities. Australia’s support will:

  • provide teacher training and text books, and build more classrooms
  • provide Australia Award Scholarships for Timorese to study at universities in Australia.

Australia will invest in the health sector to improve access to health services, water and sanitation systems, and provide support to end violence against women so that all Timorese, especially women and girls, are healthier, safer and more able to contribute to the development of Timor-Leste. We will help through:

  • safe motherhood services, including midwives and neonatal care able to reach more rural women
  • working with Timorese civil society organisations to provide shelter and legal services to more women who have experienced domestic violence
  • increasing access to clean water for remote villages—Australia has already provided access to a quarter of Timor-Leste’s rural population—and extend the reach of better sanitation services.

Australia will invest in infrastructure including rural roads and community infrastructure so more Timorese can access education, healthcare and create their own opportunities for jobs. Australia’s support will help:

  • expand Timor-Leste’s rural road network and provide rural Timorese, including women, with road building jobs
  • support the Government of Timor-Leste’s community infrastructure grants program, called the National Program for Suco Development, to provide market places, schools, motorbike paths and irrigation to rural communities.


Australia is working in partnership with the Government of Timor-Leste to help it improve public financial management systems and to strengthen the public service. The Australian Federal Police will continue to work with the Timorese National Police to improve police systems and develop community policing.

Governance assistance in Timor-Leste


Australia is helping to save lives in Timor-Leste by improving access to safe water and sanitation, and increasing access to quality health care.

Health assistance in Timor-Leste


Australia is working with Timor-Leste to improve basic education and skills and employment opportunities.

Education assistance in Timor-Leste

Rural development and economic growth

Australian aid is helping Timor-Leste improve economic growth by focusing on key drivers of growth, such as rural development and infrastructure.

Rural development and economic growth assistance in Timor-Leste

Ending violence against women

Australia is working to improve gender equality and address both the causes and consequences of domestic violence in Timor-Leste.

Ending violence against women in Timor-Leste

National Program for Village Development

Australia is supporting the Government of Timor-Leste establish operational procedures, corporate systems and monitoring and evaluation methods for the National Program for Village Development.

National Program for Village Development in Timor-Leste

Our results

  • In 2013-14, 92 kilometres of road was rehabilitated and 130 kilometres of road was maintained.
  • Australia’s support to maternal and child health through NGOs has enabled 45,511 people to access maternal health services, provided 2,795 antenatal visits to pregnant women and trained 156 doctors and midwives.
  • Through the National Health Sector Strategic Plan—Support Project, 623,825 people (64 per cent women) received basic healthcare through rural mobile clinics.
  • In 2013-14, we supported the Civil Service Commission to develop and rollout a Human Resource Manual for all Timorese public servants.
  • In 2013-14 6,760 people gained access to basic sanitation and 17,282 people (51 per cent women) gained increased knowledge of hygiene practices.
  • Through the Seeds of Life program 14,415 farmers (30 per cent women) participated in 1,086 community seed groups, assisting 43,000 households across Timor-Leste use improved seed varieties.