Bill next to his Western Desert Painting May 2008
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. TIS produced newsletters that provided stories in Australia about what was happening in East Timor to counter the propaganda in the Australian press. Pat Walsh joined AWD which later became the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and within that a Human Rights committee was formed that concerned itself with the human rights abuses taking place in East Timor.
Although Bill claims he was always a ‘back room person’ he was awarded an AO in 19 .. for his work ……….. . 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. He first went to East Timor in 1989 for a quick visit to meet with Bishop Belo after Indonesia opened it up for foreign visitors, (after 19 years of being ‘closed’) to find out what was happening there.
I think what Bill describes as ‘back room’ is working in an office, lobbying, chairing meetings and creating opportunities for others while bringing a compassionate approach to applying his personal philosophy. Bill Chaired ACFOA sub-committee on East Timor and the Human Rights sub-committee while he was on the Executive of ACFOA for ten years. ACFOA has changed its name again to Australia Council for International Development. He was president of ACFOA from 1993-1997.