“And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast; He was something like a racehorse undersized, With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least – and such as are by mountain horsemen prized. He was hard & tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die- There was courage in his quick impatient tread; And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye, And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.” Excerpt from The Man From Snowy River a poem by Banjo Paterson
This verse from The Man from Snowy River, was written by famous Australian poet Banjo Paterson who had his first book of ballads published in 1895. History shows the Timor pony to be a very apt metaphor for the identity of the Timorese and their Australian friends who worked at the grass roots for East Timor’s liberation until 1999 and continue to struggle for peace and good health in East Timor. There are eleven people in Port Phillip. who have worked for East Timor as far back as 1975.Who are they and why? How did they do it when successive Australian Governments were denying the reality. How did they work with the Timorese people when their country was closed to outsiders? Find out here through stories from each of them. ______________________________________________________________________________________________
In 2005 David published his memoirs in a book titled Last Flight Out of Dili – Memoirs of an Accidental Activist. Two chapters that are historically important to debate about the history of East Timor, the timing and rationale for Australia being there, were not published. David has provided them to Suai Media Space and they have been translated by Alarico da Sena into Tetun. ‘All They Got was Misery’ and ‘Japan the Reluctant Invaders.’ Tetun links: Timor-oan Hetan Terus and Japaun-relatante-Invasores. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “I was never going to play the weeping widow! I never did any more than demand whatis the right of every Australian citizen”. “I don’t care what people think about me – when the leaders of this country defamed me my friends would reassure that I must be doing something right”! Interview with Shirley Shackleton about her struggle for justice for the Timorese and her husband together with the other four journalists killed by Indonesian military in Balibo on the 16th October, 1975. Here is one tenacious woman – an inspiration to all Australians. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Bill Armstrong became involved with East Timor’s journey into independence in 1975 when he was working for Action for World Development. The Timor Information Service became a part of AWD after it had been set up in the Australian Council of Churches by John Waddingham and Mary Considine.In the 70’s and early 80’s while working with the Ecumenical Centre for Migration he worked closely with Joaol Gonsalves trying to help Timorese fleeing from Timor into Australia. More … Bill joined other people he knew when he became Chairman of the Friends of Suai in 2004. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Paul’s brother Tony Stewart was killed by the invading Indonesian military in Balibo when he was only a young journalist. He was 21. Paul first became famous as a member of the Painters and Dockers a popular Melbourne band. He became a founding member of the Dili Allstars who kept the music going in the independence movement in Australia. See his band still hard at it at the launch of their CD ‘Increase the Peace’ in 2006 when East Timor’s dreams of independence and futures for the young was threatened by political violence and singing with Timorese friends at the launch of the Friends of Suai in March, 2000 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jean McLean was a Labour politician during East Timor’s struggle for independence and was one of the few who kept the ‘flag flying’ for independence withinthe Australian Labour Party. Jean continues to work for East Timor . _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Patsy Thatcher is an anthropologist. Patsy interviewed all the men of the 2/2nd Company and researched World War 2 for a book about this chapter in the history of East Timor. Patsy has also extensively researched the Timorese in the diaspora in Melbourne and continues to work for East Timor on Boards and Committees. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Louise Byrne began working with East Timorese people living in Melbourne in 1991. Louise’s knowledge of Timorese culture stems from her study and her work and friendship with Timorese people. When East Timor won the ballot for independence in 1999, Louise had Jacob Rumbiak living with her working for West Papua’s self-determination. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Carmela bought a second hand camera in early 1999 and went to East Timor to find out what was happening there. Her footage ‘Scenes of Independence’ became the programs we saw on SBS television that showed Indonesian military intimidation mounting through out the year. More …
Graham Pitts is a playright and resident of Port Phillip who has been involved with East Timor since 1991. He wrote and directed the play ‘Tour of Duty’ in Theatreworks in St Kilda. in 2001. ‘Tour of Duty’ is a play about the relationship between Australians and Timorese in WW2. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Port Phillip resident and community artist Julie Shiels, has worked with the Timorese Community since 1991. In 2000 along with Michael Buckley Julie published a CD ROM titled ‘ Dreams of Return’ which was developed in collaboration with a community theatre project with the Timorese community in Melbourne.