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Australian Volunteers International - back in operation in Timor-Leste

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Australian Volunteers International strengthened its commitment to the people of Timor-Leste, with the announcement that a number of former volunteers will commence new placements with the Volunteer Program in the region during August.
AVI reopened its Dili office on 19 July 2006 to begin a security review, which was followed with a range of meetings with Timor-Leste partners to assess their needs and capacity to receive an Australian Volunteer in the near future.

We have now assessed in-country security for experienced volunteers to be at an acceptable level and have placed volunteers to mainly work with their previous employers and partner organisations. AVI continues to monitor the security situation in the coming months and will then decide if it is appropriate to recruit and assign new volunteers in Timor-Leste.

Upon reopening the country's Volunteer Program the Timor-Leste volunteers can continue their valuable contribution to the communities they work in through the provision of their professional skills, cultural understanding and knowledge of the local language.

Over the past two months, 20 of our 51 volunteers chose to return to Timor-Leste, independently. They assisted with urgent relief operations, peace-building, training, civil service restructure and employment programs. In some cases, Australian partner organisations provided support to our former volunteers and their employers in Timor-Leste to help them continue their work.

AVI volunteer Annie Sloman is one of the returning volunteers dedicated to building on the work she has already achieved as part of the Volunteer Program with Dili-based theatre group Bibi Bulak. Through the collaborative development of a theatre production, which toured throughout Timor-Leste, Annie has witnessed a gradual and positive change in the cultural dynamics of many male and female participants at Bibi Bulak. The messages of gender equality and women's empowerment in the production have resonated throughout the organisation and with many audience members. Annie is currently working on a new trauma healing and peace building through theatre project with Bibi Bulak that is supported by the International Women's Development Agency through funding from ANZ Bank.

Australian Volunteers International is proud to be working alongside our volunteers, the people of Timor-Leste and their communities towards the long term development their country.

AVI manages a range of volunteer programs and projects in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. Our largest program is the Australian Volunteer Program, funded by the Australian Government through AusAID, and managed in collaboration with other agencies.

For more information contact:

Christine Crosby
Publicity and Media Relations
Ph: (03) 9279 1763