Timor-Leste’s ambassador recalls his community radio days


Former community radio broadcaster Abel Guterres, now Timor-Leste’s ambassador to Australia, had some words of encouragement, and warning, for 10 Timor-Leste broadcasters at the start of a five-week professional development program in Melbourne this week.

Mr Guterres, who first came to Australia as a refugee from Timor-Leste in 1975, and worked as a volunteer at Melbourne community radio station 3CR, said the Timor-Leste government was a strong supporter of the information and development role played by community radio in Timor-Leste.  But to tap government funds, community radio stations need to be transparent and accountable in how they are organised and handle funds.

The Timor-Leste broadcasters, who come from eight districts, are attending a program run by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre in Melbourne.

Director John Wallace said the program, funded through AusAID’s Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowships Program, is focusing on management, community engagement and journalism skills.

“In some districts community radio is the only media source available, so these stations, which are chronically poor, have a massive responsibility in terms of serving the community. Our program aims to give them skills in tapping community energy and other resources to play this vital role,” he said.

The broadcasters will spend two weeks in the field studying the programming operations of community and other radio stations, and will interview members of the Timor-Leste community for broadcast back home on their own stations.


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