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Landmark roundtable marks new relationship within the North

By Robyn McDougall

Student ambassadors from Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e welcome the CDU delegation to the roundtable, which includes Director of International Strategy and Development Monica Turvey, Lecturer in Indonesian Studies Nathan Franklin and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Bell Student ambassadors from Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e welcome the CDU delegation to the roundtable, which includes Director of International Strategy and Development Monica Turvey, Lecturer in Indonesian Studies Nathan Franklin and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Bell

Building a strong, cohesive and sustainable region was at the centre of a historic meeting in May, which brought together senior representatives of universities and government from Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia.

The University Roundtable on Sub-Regional Development, which was held in Dili, is the first of what will become an annual gathering to build understanding of critical issues that face the wider region and to drive opportunities to build stability and prosperity.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, Professor Sharon Bell, who led the CDU delegation, said that universities had the capacity to help transform economies, contribute to social change and nurture the next generation of leaders.

“Research points to the importance of strong social and cultural ties between countries in the sub-region that will promote an environment that is stable, democratic and conducive to economic participation and prosperity,” Professor Bell said.

Inclusive development and community engagement, sustainable development and the growth of people’s capacity were among the themes that arose during the roundtable, she said.

A range of priorities for collaboration emerged, including enhancing the mobility of students to engage in community service programs to improve education for regional citizenship and social justice.

In his opening address Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao stressed the role of universities in educating for global citizenship, and the need for inclusive and equitable growth across the region.

He said that the imperative should be “no country, no community, no island is left behind” as the region developed.

The two days of discussion included five universities from Indonesia, five tertiary education providers from Timor-Leste along with Charles Darwin University and Victoria University.

The landmark event emerged from discussions between the Australian, Indonesian and Timor-Leste Prime Ministers to increase the stability and prosperity of the region.

The next roundtable is expected to be held in Darwin in 2015.