Canberra Plans for Sister City Relationship with Dili
To all Candidates
for the ACT Election [in Australia]
I understand that the Chief Minister, Mr Gary Humphries has made a commitment that the Liberal party, if elected, will inaugurate a sister city relationship with Dili, the soon to be capital of the independent republic of Timor Lorosa'e. Many residents of the ACT will welcome this commitment, as there is much goodwill here toward the people of Timor and a desire to assist in the rebuilding of the country.
However, I believe that there is another model of cooperation that would best suit the needs of Dili in the present circumstances. The sister city concept may have a degree of formality and a commercial element that is perhaps not yet appropriate. A model of cooperation which may better fit the current circumstances is the Friendship City Program which have been adopted by a number of Victorian city councils and by some councils in New South Wales and Queensland.
Attached is background information on the Friendship City Programs established between these councils and various towns and districts in Timor Lorosa’e. I have gathered this information on various trips to Melbourne. I was very inspired by the work that the Melbourne councils and their residents are putting in on their projects and I believe that there is much the same level of community support and good will in Canberra, provided a framework could be established to channel it into appropriate activities.
I have contacted staff from six councils, Port Phillip, Darebin, Moreland, Yarra Mornington Peninsula and Casey, and have had e-mail and telephone contact with some others. The projects of the various councils are in different stages of development and their approaches are somewhat different, but all adhere to a Statement of Principles for Victorian Local Governments Working in East Timor signed by Xanana Gusmau and representatives of the local government sector in May 2000.
I have also spoken with people from Kangaroo Valley who have a district to district relationship with the town of Remexio. Kangaroo Valley is a community of about 600 people who have worked tirelessly to build up their relationship with their partner district. They are involved in small-scale projects aimed at making a difference to the daily lives of people in their own district and in their partner community.
The friendship city concept is different to that of ‘sister cities’. It is essentially a series of grass roots people to people initiatives, for which the city or shire council provides an administrative framework and contributes its expertise in areas such as urban planning and services.
I feel that the ACT Government, which has many of the functions of local government, has the capacity to offer a great deal to such a relationship and that it could effectively be established during the life of the new ACT Government.
There are already community groups in Canberra which provide support to various small-scale projects to assist the people of Timor Lorosa'e to reconstruct their country and these could form the nucleus of a friendship city program.
I would be happy to assist in contacting some of these groups to canvass their views on this matter.
Although I am currently standing as an ACT Greens candidate for Ginninderra I am writing to you as a ratepayer of Canberra to seek your support on this issue.
I believe such a program deserves bipartisan support from all members of the ACT government. I believe that such a program could be inaugurated next year to coincide with the declaration of independence of the republic of Timor Lorosa'e and I would be happy to assist in any way possible to promote the initiative. If you would like to discuss this matter further or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on (02) 6254 1671 or via e-mail at email@example.com
(Mrs) Patricia Woodcroft-Lee
27 September 2001
11 Woodcroft-Lee: Friendship Cities: Relationships between Localities in
Australia & Timor Lorosa'e Overview added Oct 11
"The following is a summary of the information I have been able to obtain by discussions with representatives of several Melbourne councils, the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) and two regions in New South Wales, concerning their friendship city programs with various towns and districts in Timor Lorosa'e. ... A key principle underlying the friendship relationship is that it should function both ways. ... I would welcome any suggestions as to how we [Canberrans] could initiate the steps necessary to set up a partnership arrangement, either with a specific region or with grassroots organisations in Timor Lorosa'e." (Mrs) Patricia Woodcroft-Lee, Canberra ratepayer [Australia]
BD: Capacity Building & 'Timorisation' / à Criação de Capacidades - A collection of recent statements, reports, articles and news
BD: Reconstruction and 'Aid & Development' / Rekonstrusaun i 'Ajuda i Dezenvolvimentu' / Reconstrução e 'Ajuda e Desenvolvimento' - A collection of recent press releases, reports, and articles