International Engagement


Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

(Transcript) Address by
His Excellency the Prime Minister
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
at the Charles Darwin University graduation ceremony
Darwin Convention Centre, NT, Australia
31 May 2012
The Honourable Sally Thomas AM,
Chancellor  Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor  
Members of Council  
Distinguished teachers  
And all the students graduating today and their families

I am honored to be here with you today.  It gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity to deliver the Occasional Address at your Graduation Ceremony.

Charles Darwin University is an outstanding institution of higher learning.  I have no doubt, that now you will all be well equipped to excel in your chosen fields.

I am also delighted to be here to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Charles Darwin University.  This is, indeed, an unexpected honour.

I would have liked to study and go to university, but the world I grew up in was a different place and a very different time.

In February, this small and beautiful city, remembered the Darwin bombings.

The whole island of Timor was closely linked to this tragic event.  I was born a year after the end of the war which devastated my colonised country.

Up until 1974, in Timor-Leste, there was only one secondary school.  In 1975, the Indonesian invasion took place.   And as you all know, the war lasted 24 years.

You have grown up in a better world.

Just as the Timorese new generation lives in a different world, different from that of half a century ago.  Now that we have achieved our independence, the major goal is that our young people have the opportunity to go to university.

And that our Timorese universities are exciting and challenging – just like Charles Darwin University.  If before Timor-Leste needed freedom fighters, today it needs competent builders.

I know you all had to work very hard to get into a world class Australian university, and then work even harder to graduate.

I urge you all not to take this achievement for granted. You now have the education to make your way in the world.

Some of you will continue your study, others will begin a career serving the public and many will work in the private sector.

People succeed when they are passionate about what they are doing. It gives their life meaning and purpose.  It is when they are at their best.

In Timor-Leste, the dream of our people was to achieve independence and self-determination.   We faced the most terrible of conditions: starvation, humiliation, violence, imprisonment and even death.

But this did not stop us from following our dream with passion and determination.  We fought the war on our own without any material or logistical support whatsoever and we felt abandoned by the world.

However, there were always people, including many Australian people who were prepared to stand by our side.  This strengthened our resolve.

The difficult times of war fed the desire for peace and now, the Timorese people feel just how precious peace is.

The years passed in prison instilled the aspiration for freedom and now the Timorese know exactly how valuable freedom is.

And after years of struggle, and sacrifice, and loss, we achieved our dream, and this month we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our independence.

And the country is betting on preparing new heroes in this process of nation building. And these heroes will come from the Timorese new generation that have studied or are studying in universities, both national and international, such as Charles Darwin, with the ability to think critically, to analyze a problem and to make good judgments that lead our development.

It is these skills that you have learnt from your study that will be so valuable in the future, to each one of you, to your society and to your country.


While I may not have had the opportunity to go to university, I have learnt much.

I have learnt that you must follow your passion, that you must never give up and that you must work hard and sacrifice to achieve your dream.

The important thing in the lives of people is the commitment that each one should have to values and principles.  In today’s world, the lack of firmness in the defense of principles and values drives a society to apathy in their thoughts and actions.

Through your hard work, and the education provided by Charles Darwin University, you are in the perfect position to follow your dreams.

However, it will be necessary to recognise that the world you are about to enter, equipped with your degrees, is changing.  We are currently witnessing a meltdown of economies in Europe, a re-ordering of the Arab world and the rise of Asia.

The great emerging economies of China, India, Indonesia and South Korea are now driving global growth.

Even in our small nation of Timor-Leste we have been enjoying double digit rates of economic growth for several years now.

In this, the Asian Century, global strategic and financial power will shift to the great cities of Asia.

As you are living in this time of changes, you are in a perfect position to benefit from this global transition.

Darwin is a gateway to Asia and benefits greatly from the resources boom and Australia’s strong economy.

It has also played an important role in the development of Timor-Leste with natural gas from the Timor Sea being processed in Darwin, and workers from the Northern Territory helping us to build our nation.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chief Minister, the Honourable Paul Henderson, for offering a fully funded scholarship for a Timorese national to undertake an Associate Degree in Process Engineering at the North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas at Charles Darwin University.  You are fortunate to live in a place with so much promise and opportunity.

However, unlike much of the western world, you also live close to extreme poverty and disadvantage.  Millions of people in South East Asia live without adequate food, clean water, education and health care.

You have worked hard but you are also privileged to be graduating from Charles Darwin University.

With this privilege comes responsibility.

Charles Darwin University is making a contribution to the development of Timor-Leste and the education of our young people.

Your education also gives you the opportunity to make a contribution.  It enables you to participate globally and to influence and change the direction of a transforming world to promote social harmony, peace and development.

And so, I would ask that you contribute to your local communities and work to make our region a better place.


As you set off to this new stage in your life, I urge you to seize the opportunities provided by your education, and by your country.  I ask that you engage with the world and make a contribution to your society, and to our region.

And most of all, I urge you to never give up in the pursuit of your dreams. Congratulations and good luck.  
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão  
31 May 2012


Strategic Partnerships and Research Activities in Asia and the Pacific

Part of the vision for the direction and development of Charles Darwin University over the next 10 years is that CDU will become a national and international resource; open to collaboration and equipped to provide solutions to complex problems of local, national and international significance. (CDU Strategic Plan 2010 - 2014).

A commitment to research that is focused on the important and critical needs of the regions that the University services; in areas of its research strengths - tropical and desert knowledge with particular focus on Indigenous knowledge; and through a range of carefully selected, strategic and mutually productive and benefical partnerships underpins the University's efforts to operationalise this key priority to achieve the performance outcomes set.

The unique geography and demography of the NT, its proximity to Asia and the Pacific resulting in a shared tropical climate and similar social, cultural, economic, environmental and public health problems combined with the physical location of the city of Darwin, has exerted a profound influence on the evolution and resultant character traits exhibited and expertise developed by CDU.

This combination of factors has enabled CDU to develop significant research expertise and leadership in tropical and desert knowledge of the Australian and Asia-Pacific region but further expansion and consolidation of this expertise along with a strengthening of its international status as a centre of excellence is sought.

CDU ranked in the Top 5 of Australian Research Universities

Charles Darwin University is on track to achieve its vision of generating 'knowledge to solve complex problems of importance to the communities of our regions'.

A recently released international ranking of universities that are active in research - The Spain-based SCImago Institutions 2009 World Report - has placed CDU in the top five research performers in Australia.

The purpose of this website is to share information about collaborative activities that have been undertaken, are in the process of being undertaken or are under development in these regions. It is anticipated that the circulation of this information will assist in the coordination of a university wide approach to activities in Timor-Leste and Indonesia and act as a catalyst for generating more opportunities for collaborative engagement.