Radio volunteers tune in from Timor-Leste

By Elena McMaster

My fellow Austraining  International volunteer, Claudia Santangelo, and I are now coming into our fifth month working with the Association of Community Radio Timor-Leste (ARKTL) to support community radio stations here.

We’ve travelled to small radio stations in the villages of Maubisse, Aileiu, Bucoli and Baucau to work with local staff and community volunteers, and to explore some of the strengths and challenges of making and sustaining community radio in Timor-Leste.

We conducted two days of workshops in Dili in October with community radio journalists from seven stations and some participants from peace-building organisation Search for Common Ground. Station staff learnt how to train volunteers using session plans and training materials, while other workshops provided advice to the participants on budgeting, financial transparency and accountability, writing for web, and encouraging community participation in community radio.

As we weather the tail-end of the dry season and head into the wet, we’ll be travelling from Baucau in the east, to Maubisse in the mountains, to Oecusse in the west, supporting stations to deliver training and develop and implement projects aimed at encouraging more community members to get involved with their local community radio station.

ARKTL recently secured some funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs’ Direct Aid program which will give the association a much-needed funding boost and add to the support already received this year from the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre and Austraining volunteer program. These funds will go toward training and activities at stations involved in our community engagement project and will help ARKTL create a vibrant website and increase its public profile. They will also assist with some small equipment needs for all stations in the ARKTL network, improving the quality of field recordings and helping to put phone interviews and talkback calls to air.

ARKTL aims to launch its new website, Enews and Facebook profile by early December 2013. The aim is to feature regular news updates from community radio journalists around the country and provide a platform for information sharing, networking and access to opportunities and resources and more.

Stay tuned for more community radio updates from Timor-Leste in the months ahead!