Scouts Australia's highest priority internationally is helping establish Scouting in Timor-Leste to enable them to seek membership of WOSM. An Activity Centre was identified by the Timor-Leste Scout Association, the Uniao Nacional Dos Escuteiros De Timor-Leste (UNE-TL) as one of their highest priorities for the development of Scouting. For substantial growth and development of Scouting, UNE-TL require basic infrastructure. They currently have none. It is for this reason that UNE-TL identified a national Activities Centre as a strategic priority.
When built, the Activities Centre will be the first of its kind in Timor-Leste. It will also be the most significant asset that Scouts Australia has gifted to another National Scouting Organisation in the Asia-Pacific Region or, indeed, world Scouting.
After 2 years of searching, and despite many complications, a block of land has been secured. It is located at Metinaro, some 40 minutes drive from Dili.
In partnership with UNE-TL, a multi-purpose Activities Centre has been designed. It will provide a venue for national Leader training courses, a site for national, regional and local camps, and a secure store room for camping equipment donated to UNE-TL. The vision is for it to become a hub for Scouting throughout Timor-Leste. The facility is also designed to be hired-out for commercial users, with the revenue used to subsidise Scouting programs, including for the most disadvantaged youth from remote parts of Timor-Leste.
To sustain Scouting for many decades to come in Timor-Leste, the Centre is being constructed of quality, and therefore more expensive, materials.
To paint the Centre, and to undertake landscaping with local Scout Groups, a group of 14 Venturers and 6 leaders from the Catholic Regional College in Sydenham, Victoria is travelling to Dili in the last week of June and first week of July. It has been planned for them to be there for the Centre’s Official Opening. This timing means they will also have full access to the Centre’s toilet and shower block, as well as new commercial cooking facilities. It is intended that our Scout Catholic School Venturers join up with Venturers from local Catholic Scout groups, thereby helping to bring the Catholic Scout group back into mainstream Scouting in Timor-Leste.
The Activities Centre will be officially opened on Saturday 5 July 2014. The President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and Patron of Scouting, His Excellency Mr Taur Matan Ruak, and a representative of the Australian Capital Territory Government will open the Centre in the presence of the Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. The ACT Government is involved in recognition of their major fundraising campaign - "Dollars for Dili". Both the Chair of the APR Scout Committee and the APR Regional Director are planning to attend the event.
It is hoped this new infrastructure will build on the success of the Leader training program conducted as a Messengers of Peace project. Our joint vision is for the new Activities Centre to give UNE-TL the impetus, and confidence, it needs to significantly grow Scouting throughout the country.
A Health and Sanitation facility will be included in the Activities Centre. This will encourage more girls to participate in Scouting and give them access to more opportunities for independence and learning.