So I am finally travelling to Dili to work with Ross and Augusto on BRIDGE! It is a long time since I first met Augusto at a TTF in Melbourne and I have fond memories of his friendship and good humour. Ross and I arrived without delay in Dili and the first week is spent in preparation. Printing of the curriculum that has been progressively translated from English to Tetum over the past month by the ever capable and delightful Ivo Rangel occurs towards the end of the week, while we also source stationery, cash for the cash economy (no credit cards in great use here) and of course lollies!
In that week of preparation we are introduced to two newly accredited facilitators, Mario Guterres de Oliveir and Deolindo Deo Ramos who were shy and quiet at our first meetings but proved themselves to be excellent recruits to the BRIDGE program in the weeks that followed and most wonderful resources to the future development of Timor Leste.
Two Media and Elections Module of BRIDGE – Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections workshops were conducted in Dili East Timor for participants from the Commissão Nacional de Eleições (CNE) national and district staff, Centro Jornalismo Investigativo Timor Leste (CJITL), Timor-Leste Media Development Centre (TLMDC), Radio Televisão Timor-Leste (RTTL), Timor Post (TP), Suara Timor Lorosa’e (STL), Diario Semanario, Journal Independente, AusAID Media Officer, Radio Rakambia, Radio Liberdade, Peace Fund Timor-Leste, Information Department of the State Secretary for the Council of Ministers, Information Department of the State Secretary for Youth & Sports, Centro Radio Comunidade (CRC), Radio Lian Dame (University of Peace), Radio Comunidade Rai Husar Aileu, Radio Comunidade Ainaro, Radio Comunidade Vox Populi Lautem, Radio Comunidade Lian Matebian Baucau, Radio Comunidade Covalima, Radio Cafe Ermera, Radio Comunidade Tokodede Liquica, Radio Comunidade Atoni Lifau, Radio Comunidade Ilihei Manatuto, Radio Comuidade Ablai Manufahi, Radio Comunidade Maliana, Uma Media Regional Oecusse.
As part of the Australian Government’s longstanding support for East Timor, funding was provided by AusAID to conduct training to further develop the capacity of electoral administration in Timor-Leste and the major media organisation. The Australian Electoral Commission provided three facilitators – Augusto Pereira, Ross Attrill and Judy Birkenhead to administer and deliver the workshops with the assistance of local accredited facilitators and translators.
The workshops were also an opportunity for semi accredited facilitators to gain ‘Workshop Level’ accreditation. It is great to acknowledge that the following facilitators have now been assessed and gained their ‘Workshop Accreditation’ – Joaquim D. Xavier and Melina dos Reis. Congratulations and welcome to the BRIDGE team!
The two workshops were conducted at the Venture Hotel in Dili. Twenty nine participants attended the first workshop which was held from 15 to 20 October and twenty five participants attended the second workshop which was held from 24 to 27 October 2011.
The aim of the training was to broaden participants’ knowledge and experience and enable those who work in Elections and the Media to gain a better understanding of each other’s work and priorities. The workshops explored strategies for building productive working relationships between CNE staff and the Media and looked at the roles and responsibilities of each organisation the lead up to the 2012 elections and beyond.
Both workshops were very successful in exposing participants to new ways of addressing the challenges they face in understanding the needs of journalists and electoral administrators during the conduct of the election. Participants participated enthusiastically in the activities and were positive in their responses to the workshop.
Dr Faustino Cardoso Gomes, President of CNE closed the second workshop and commented that:
“BRIDGE is not only a capacity development tool but is also very important in bridging roles between elections and media. BRIDGE is already showing us that you can bring us together in one room and discuss one issue – the election. BRIDGE helps us to bring all media and CNE together. It has been a fantastic experience”.
Commissioners from CNE were also able to attend during the courses to give informative talks and question and answer sessions.
I must end in saying that I had a most enjoyable time watching the participants grow to have a better understanding of the pressures and challenges of each other’s work and seeing new working friendships develop. Even though I have travelled to other countries providing technical support, this was my first out of country delivery of BRIDGE since my accreditation. So it was just delightful to assist such a willing group of participants who have the heart and welfare of their own country at the forefront of their professionalism. I will watch with keen interest as the election unfolds in 2012 and wish the Timorese the very best with their election delivery.
Thanks to AusAID for funding these courses and to CNE and the media organisations for supporting their staff to undertake this valuable training.