Friends of Lospalos


1. Overview

Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos began in May 2000, when the Mornington Peninsula Shire approved a Friendship relationship between the Shire and the sub - district of Lospalos in the Lautem district of Timor Leste. 

Friends of Lospalos is an elected voluntary committee with Council and community members forming an Executive Committee. 

Executive meetings are held monthly and are open to all members. The committee is a section 86 committee of Council.

A Lospalos Friendship Commission has been established and we will continue to work with our counterparts in Lospalos to fund projects that the community has identified as beneficial, sustainable and achievable.  

2. Guiding Principles

  • Respect and support for Timorese-led decision-making
  • Sustainable and long-term (10 year) assistance
  • Relationships are based on partnerships of mutual respect and collaboration
  • Community Development approach
  • To assist us in our work we have developed and committed to  the following guiding documents
  • Statement of Principles for Victorian Local Governments working with Timor Leste
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Lospalos
  • Committee rules and regulations
  • Currently developing a long term strategic plan. Click here to view Friends of Lospalos Strategic Plan(PDF, 87KB)  (DRAFT)
  • Timor-Leste Municipal Cooperation Agreement - January 2015
  • Local Government Time-Leste Partnership Network: clarifying the roles of councils and friendship groups - November 2018
  • Victorian Government Time-Leste Program 2018 - 2021
  • Friendship City Relations between Communities and Local Governments in Australia and Timor-Leste: Developing Citizen-to-Citizen Relations, Balthasar Kehi, May 2005. Click here to view(PDF, 64KB)
  • Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos Committee established as a separate incorporated association to which Council will provide an annual grant and some in-kind support - September 2020

Key Milestones

August 1999 - East Timor Independence Referendum – Supported by the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) observer teams.

November 1999 - Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) motion passed acknowledging the significant skill and experience within Local Government to assist East Timor in rebuilding its communities.         

May 2000 - Discussions initiated between Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (MPSC) (Mayor, Council Officers) and representatives of the transitional leadership of East Timor about establishing a friendship relationship (Abel Guterres CNRT).

May 2000 - Council meeting resolved to establish a friendship relationship between Mornington Peninsula and Lospalos. May 2000 fundraising event to launch Friendship Agreement held at Xanadu, Hasting Marina, raises $18,000. An appeal was launched by Xanana Gusmao, President of the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT). MPSC contribution of $3,000 towards the purchase of transportation vehicles and water purification equipment for the District of Los Palos.

September 2000 - MPSC mission to Lospalos to ascertain community needs.  Mission undertaken in response to invitation from President Xanana Gusmao, and comprised two councillors and two officers.

November 2000 - Friendship launched through the establishment of a Lospalos community committee and Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos committee.

May 2001 - Dr Jose Ramos Horta makes inaugural Mornington Peninsula Shire Human Rights Oration.

April 2002 - MPSC Manager of Governance and Corporate Support participated as a member of the VLGA/United Nations Observer delegation for the first democratic election of President of East Timor.

May 2002 - Council reaffirms its relationship with Lospalos.

2005 - Lospalos Friends of Mornington Peninsula Commission established in Lospalos to relate to Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos Special Committee.

June 2008 - Dili Conference – “Strengthening Communities Through International Friendship”.  250 delegates attended; 5 from FOLP including Cr Bev Colomb and Cr Dave Gregan.

June 2008 - Memorandum of Understanding signed in Lospalos by Cr Bev Colomb.

August 2010 - FOLP participated (5 members) in the “Strengthening Friendship - People to People Conference” held in Maubisse and jointly organised by the Ministry of State Administration and the Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network.

July 2012 - FOLP joined Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network International Observer Mission for the Timor-Leste Parliamentary elections. Cr Tim Rodgers and Olli and Linda Wimetal undertook election monitoring in Lospalos. 

August 2013 - Tour De Amizade/Friendship Tour. 14 FOLP members visited Lospalos to strengthen friendship links, build awareness among donors and supporters, and consult with Lospalos leaderships on future support and friendship opportunities.

July 2014 - Working Together with Timor Leste – “The Next Ten Years” International Conference convened in Melbourne by VLGA.  FOLP supported 2-member delegation from Lospalos (including Sr Zeferino and Sr Domingos) and arranged study tours and briefings within MPS.

July 2014 - Reaffirmation of Friendship Relationship by MPS Council and signing of Agreement linking Mornington Peninsula Shire with the new municipality of Lautem.

November 2014 - Appointment of full time Commission Focal Point Worker - Fredy Sampaio.

July 2015 – Dan Nicholson, Timor Sea justice campaign, AGM FOLP guest speaker.

September 2015 - “Fair Go for Timor-Leste” resolution passed by Council on notice of motion by Cr Rodgers.  Letter from Mayor sent to Prime Minister Abbott calling for Australia to resubmit to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. 

January 2016 - Municipal Co-operation Agreement signed by Mayor Graham Pittock and CEO, Carl Cowie and Vice Minister Cabral. Purpose of Agreement is to formalise assistance and services and to provide advice as Timor-Leste establishes local government in its districts.

August 2016 – Lindy Yates Exhibition “Standing in the Gap” launched by Hon Timor-Leste Consul in Victoria Rae Kingsbury and talk by Professor Damien Kingsbury on the Timor Sea resource division in Australia.

November 2016 – “Time to Draw the Line” directed by Human Rights lawyer and activist Janelle Saffin film screening with Padua College.

July 2017 – VLGA Election Observer (9 FOLP members) volunteer mission to Timor-Leste Parliamentary elections. Meeting with Commission, visits to projects sites. Inauguration of the Motolori Bridge, Maluro School teachers’ resource room renovations and water sanitation project.

September 2017 – Professor Michael Leach, Timor-Leste history and politics, FOLP AGM guest speaker.

May 2018 – Peter McMullin, guest speaker Restoration of Independence Day event at Safety Beach Yacht Club.

June 2018 -  VLGA Election Observer (3 FOLP members) volunteer mission to Timor-Leste Parliamentary elections. Meeting with Commission, visit to proposed project site. Inauguration by FOLP Chairperson Xiao Li Ma of the “Biblioteque” library at the Trinta de Agosto School, Fuiloro sub-village.

September 2018 – “Abdul and Jose” film screening with MPSC and Padua College and student presentations on their recent visit to Timor-Leste.

March 2019 – Seasonal worker program presentation by Timor-Leste Embassy at the Mornington Library.

May 2019 – Book launch of Professor Clinton Fernandes’ “Island off the coast of Asia” with Bernard Collaery. Restoration of Independence Day in partnership with MPSC in Library Week.

July 2019 – Specs for Lospalos Incorporated optometry clinic for 390 Timorese led by Colleen Hammond. 6 FOLP volunteers. Supporting visit to the Shire by Timor-Leste Embassy First Secretary Samuel Soares.

August 2019 – Discontinue the prosecutions against Witness ”K’ and Bernard Collaery resolution passed by Council on notice of motion by Cr Fraser. Letter written by Mayor to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to inform them of the resolution.

December 2019 – Parliament House Melbourne launch of “Friends Across the Seas” by retiring Ambassador HE Abel Guterres hosted by new Honorary Consul Peter McMullin.

January 2020 – Retiring Ambassador to Australia Abel Guterres farewell function at Timor-Leste Embassy and presentation by Timothy Rodgers.

April 2020 – Advocacy for COVID-!9 medical supplies, personal protective equipment and food aid to our Friends in Lospalos.

April 2020 – Launch of dedicated website and email

September 2020 – Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos Committee established as a separate incorporated association to which Council will provide an annual grant and some in-kind support.

3. Visits

Project support and monitoring has been via self-funded committee volunteers who have traveled to Lospalos. 

In July 2019, the Mornington Peninsula volunteer team traveled to the Specs for Lospalos Inc. Optometry Clinic at the Lospalos Hospital in far eastern Timor-Leste. 

The team took with them 90kg of donated optometry equipment, prescription spectacles by Specsavers and the Lions Club, $US1,500 in cash donations, uniforms and medical history cards provided by the Shire. Working tirelessly from 8am to 7pm daily, consultations were in the many hundreds including providing glasses to a 102 year old Timorese woman. 

It was a fabulous team effort by senior optometrist Colleen Hammond, Harry Pittock, David and Patricia Ball, Tim Rodgers and Graham Pittock working and training with 15 Timorese volunteers.

 Friends-of-Los-Palos-July-2019-1.jpeg  Friends-of-Los-Palos-July-2019-10.jpg  Friends-of-Los-Palos-July-2019-13.jpg

4. Our work in Lospalos


See below for a list of Friends of Lospalos Projects delivered since 1 April 2013 - $199,271.28


Specs for Lospalos optometry clinic: providing optometry eye examinations for 390 Timorese and spectacles in a volunteer optometry clinic conducted at the Lospalos Hospital over 5 days in July 2019. (Donated equipment estimated value $33,550, monetary donations $2,200) - $35,750


NGO Esperanca Youth English course: providing resources for the Centre to deliver an English language course for 50 local students - 29 males, 21 females. (US$2,252) - $3,325.73

ADM Nuns education project for young women: (US$4,990) - $7,453.32


Library construction at Trinta de Agosto School, Fuiloro Village: 18 teachers and 613 student beneficiaries - $7,480.31


Moto Lori I bridge:  overcome community separation caused by annual flooding through the construction of an all-weather bridge to enable intracommunity linkages, access to health and education services, trade and community activities. Beneficiaries 25 families, 100 plus people. (US$5,132) - $7,132.23

Toilet and well construction at Lospalos Government Post: (US$11,500) - $16,176.68

Rehabilitation of teacher training office/resource Centre at Maluro Central Basic School: (US$5,477) -$7,671.94

Primary School Teacher Training at Bacau Marist TTC:  expand access to primary education through the training of teachers from and for the Lospalos community. 12 teachers trained since 2009.

2013/14 - $5,000;
2014/15 - $4,000;
2015/16 - $2,000;
2016/17 - $3,600;
Total 2013-17 - $11,800.00


Red Cross (CVTL) Youth Internet Café: Lospalos: 5 computers and ancillary IT equipment provided to establish computer skills centre to help Lospalos youth and volunteers use computers to learn, communicate and find employment - $5,680.01

Commission capacity building and training: laptop, internet and English training 30 per course in 2015 and 2016.

2014/15 - $9,239.57;
2015/16 - $9,978.31;
Total 2014-16 - $19,217.88


Music equipment for Lulira School:  provision of assortment of musical instruments for the teaching of music at the school - $2,347.66

Art Publiku and Vida Arte Galeria Project:  sponsorship of young people of Lospalos to attend arts day arts festival in Dili - $6,655.18

Timorlink Friendship Group assistance: to develop booklet on “Friendship” for primary school children -  $550.00

Lulira School Basketball/Volleyball court renovation: benefitting 617 boys and girls -  $13,033.91

Haliku women’s cancer group: production and distribution of breast cancer information pamphlet - $716.70

Local Government Study Tour to MPS: FOPL hosted 2 Lospalos officials district and sub-district administrators to the Melbourne Conference on Local Government and Friendship Groups; and then facilitated attendance of Council Meetings, briefings on local government services and roles and study tours with a focus on tourism, environment, water and sanitation -  $6,842.86


Viva Harmonica: provision of 200 harmonicas and two harmonica music seminars as a vehicle for strengthening friendships through music between communities of Lospalos and Mornington Peninsula. (200 beneficiaries) - $1,420.00

Reading Glasses for Lospalos: 250 pairs of reading glasses were collected from individuals and opticians in the MPS, forwarded to Lospalos Hospital, and provided to needy patients following simple eyesight tests - $400.00

Esperanca Kindergarten and Youth Project:  provision of early childhood development supplies and equipment - $2,127.56

Luzeirio Sewing Training Project: provision of sewing machines and training for women in dressmaking and income generation - $2,861.20

2014/2019 -

Commission support: Costs of full time secretariat, meeting costs and office running expenses, salary of Focal Point Worker.

2014/15 - $6,428.33;
2015/16 - $7,168.03;
2016/17 - $8,390.06;
2017/18 - $6,209.59;
2018/19 - $12,432.10;
Total 2014-19 $40,628.11

Date of revised Projects Delivered Report – 9 May 2020.



  • Scholarships for junior, secondary and tertiary students (up to 75) for Lospalos students and orphans.
  • Supply of material goods for schools at kindergarten, primary and secondary levels.  
  • Human rights and peace building education for children and their carers was provided with support and delivered in Lospalos by a local NGO – Ba Futuru (For the Future)
  • Teacher training sponsorships for Lospalos youth to obtain a Primary Teaching Degree. 
  • Funding for musical instruments for the Lalira Junior School


  • Provision of seven motor cycles for community organisations
  • Supplies for and refurbishment of a Lospalos guest house
  • Supplies and refurbishment for a kindergarten building
  • Funding for a carpenters’ co-operative to supply desks to local Lospalos primary schools
  • Previously sent donated goods and materials during times of crisis.
  • Financial support for women’s textile weavers co-operative
  • Mechanical coconut press for women’s soap making co-operative


  • Two cows were sponsored through the Kiwanis organisation for the Fuiloro Agricultural School dairy herd 
  • Assistance in setting up community gardens
  • Building materials for a silk worm farm 
  • Provision of seeds and tools, water tank, stand and generator to support a plant nursery to enable sustained and continuing production of food crops and agricultural education.  


  • Medical supplies and worming treatments
  • Mosquito nets and other equipment to local Lospalos clinics and the hospital to enhance community health
  • Supply of new reading spectacles


  • Training for youth in bamboo furniture making.
  • Support for women’s groups including training for local weavers, sewing groups, cotton growers and a local soap maker’s cooperative. 
  • Training for community leaders in establishing women’s sewing groups in 10 local villages.
  • Harmonica workshops held and delivered with donated instruments from residents of the Mornington Peninsula.


5. Fundraising

Donations are always welcome!  Fundraising in the community is carried out by the Friends group through public events, talks and through the sale of Timorese goods,  tais (hand woven cloth)  and Timor coffee available at Council customer service outlets.

6. Support Friends of Lospalos

Become a member
An annual fee of $20 entitles you to newsletters and an invite to the monthly and Annual General Meetings and to vote on Executive positions. It also entitles you  to be nominated for a role on the Committee which meets monthly on the third Thursday of the month at 6.30 PM.  Meetings are held at the Shire office in Mornington.

Make a donation
All donations to the support Friends of Lospalos helps to provide community projects in Lospalos.  We do not use donations and fundraising for overheads or travel.  Cheques can be made out to Mornington Peninsula Shire Friends of Lospalos. Please note- we are not able to provide tax deductible receipts at this stage.

Help us with our fundraising
Purchase some delicious Wild Timor organic coffee. Both beans and ground are available from members and at customer service outlets at the Shire; a great gift for yourself or others!

Buy our ethically purchased Lospalos handmade goods, or hold a stall at your community group or work place.
Help us with your own fundraising ideas!  Attend our events which are held locally throughout the year.

Like us on Facebook at:
Friends of Lospalos

Other ways to help us:
Attend one of our fundraising movies or events.  

8. Profile of Executive

Timothy Rodgers, Chairperson

Timothy Rodgers, Chairperson.jpg

Tim is a former Mornington Peninsula Shire Councillor 2005-2016 and Mayor 2007. Chairperson Friends of Lospalos 2011-2017. Five times visitor to Lospalos: VLGA accredited election observer to parliamentary and presidential Timor-Leste elections, most recently in July 2019 as part of the volunteer Specs for Lospalos optometry clinic team. Negotiated the 2015 Municipal Co-operation Agreement between the Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Government of Timor-Leste. Represented the Shire at the 2007, 2009 and UN Climate Change Conference COP13, COP15 in Bali, Copenhagen.  B Bldg (Melb), proprietor Tim Rodgers Furniture. Photographed here December 2019 in Canberra with retiring Timor Leste Ambassador to Australia HE Abel Guterres.

Graham Pittock, Deputy Chairperson

Graham Pittock, Deputy Chairperson.jpg

Twice Shire Mayor 2011, 2016 and Councillor 2008-2106; Deputy Chairperson Friends of Lospalos since 2011, VLGA accredited election observer 2017 Timor-Leste parliamentary election, three times visitor to Lospalos including obtaining execution of the 2015 Municipal Cooperation Agreement most recently as part of the volunteer Specs for Lospalos optometry clinic team July 2019. Represented the Shire at 2015 Paris UN Climate Change Conference COP21. B Sc (Bath). Proprietor Guardian Pest Control. Photographed here in Dilli with the designated driver to Lospalos.

Xiao Li Ma, Secretary

Xiao Li Ma, Secretary.jpg

Chairperson Friends of Lospalos Executive 2017-2019. Two visits to Lospalos as a member of the VLGA accredited International Election Observer Team to the Parliamentary elections. 2018 visit to Timor- Leste as Chairperson also to open the new Trinta de Agosto School, Fuiloro Village library funded by the Friends. Community Access Planner with the Mornington Peninsula Shire 2012-2017; La Trobe Community Health Service as Senior Local Area Coordinator; Assistive Technology and Home Modification Subject Matter expert and NDIS Quality auditor from 2017 to current. B Soc Sc.

Harry Pittock, Treasurer

Harry Pittock, Treasurer.jpg

B Sc (Melb) currently completing a Masters in Electrical Engineering. Visited Timor-Leste and Lospalos as part of the volunteer Specs for Lospalos ophthalmic team in July 2019 with particular responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the donated optometry equipment.

Colleen Hammond, Fundraising Convenor

Colleen Hammond, Fundraising Convenor.jpg

Registered optometrist Specsavers, Rosebud. B VisSci, M Optom. Convener and fundraiser for the 2019 volunteer Specs for Lospalos optomery clinic team to Lospalos – securing donations of optometry equipment to the value of $80,000 and over $2,000 in donations. Chairperson Specs for Lospalos ad hoc working party.

Cate MacMillan, Executive Member

Cate MacMillan, Executive Manager.jpg

My name is Cate Macmillan and I have been on the Friends of Lospalos Executive for over 11 years. I live in Mornington and love the Peninsula in my community. I am a firm believer of human rights and advocating and supporting the people of Lospalos. I've been to East Timor, served as a fund raiser and organised events for the committee. I am a firm believer in community development and have actively played a role in the community as a teacher and human rights advocate, a community development worker in both state and local government. I currently work teaching young people in a school.

Patricia Ball, Executive Member

Patricia Ball, Executive Member.jpg

Together with David Ball, longstanding members and supporters of Friends of Lospalos. Last visited Timor-Leste and Lospalos in July 2019 as part of the volunteer Specs for Lospalos optometry team with particular responsibility in dispensing the Lions “Recycle for Vision” prescription spectacles. Previous 2014 visit to Lospalos in which the provision of spectacles project was successfully trialed.

Lucille Rodgers, Executive Member

Lucille Rodgers, Executive Member.jpg

Friends Social Media Administrator. Lucy is graduate of the University of Melbourne B Sc and a M A (Monash) in international relations with high distinction majoring in diplomacy and trade. Lucy undertook further studies in the Korean language at Busan National University and as an intern with the Korean Consulate in Melbourne. On graduation she was employed by the Timor-Leste Embassy in Canberra as its Seasonal Worker Liaison Officer building up Timorese seasonal worker programs throughout Australia until December 2019. Accredited VLGA election observer to the 2017 Parliamentary elections in Lospalos. Currently a senior policy officer with the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources working on strategic policy in its resources division, Canberra.

Virginia Brook, Executive Member 

Virginia Brook, Executive Member.jpg

Virginia had extensive experience working with the Timorese community in Melbourne in the 1980s. More recently, Virginia has worked as a Senior Policy and Programs Officer at DELWP. Prior to that she worked in Coastal Planning at the Shire. She holds postgraduate qualifications in Landscape Architecture and Community Development and has a long term interest in education and multicultural exchange. She has lectured in both post and undergraduate programs and speaks French and Spanish as second languages and passable Portuguese.

Hugh Fraser, Council appointed delegate

Cr Hugh Fraser, Council Appointed Delegate.jpg

Shire Councillor since 2012. Delegate to the Friends since 2016. Member Mornington Peninsula Shire Audit and Risk Committee 2012-2019. Represented the Shire at 2015 Paris UN Climate Change Conference COP21. Currently Member Point Nepean Advisory Group from 2018. Member of the VLGA accredited International Election Observer Team to the 2018 Timor Leste Parliamentary elections visiting Lospalos. Represented Australian Council of Capital City Lord Mayors and LGMA Constituency at 2019 Madrid UN Climate Change Conference COP 25. Barrister and member of the Victorian Bar. Elected by the Bar to the Legal Service Board 2007-2011, Finance and Investment Committee. LL B (Melb), LL M (Monash) with honours and high distinctions in International Law, International Political Organizations and Japanese Law. Photographed here at the 2017 Plan International 80th Anniversary in London.

Sam Hearn, Council appointed delegate

FOLP Sam Hearn - MPS Mayor.jpg

Sam is currently the Mayor of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, and has spent the last 10 years working in national management roles in the not for profit and community development sector. He has also worked as a lecturer and consultant around organisational vision and strategy development.
He was the Young Citizen of the Year in 2013 in recognition of his extensive volunteer leadership in youth work initiatives across the Mornington Peninsula. He has continued to get his hands dirty at a grassroots level in his local community. He was the founding Chair of Tanti Park Social Enterprises - an organisation that operates the Home Ground café and provides vocational training and place making alongside disadvantaged youth. Through his work involvement in the not for profit sector Sam has worked in partnership with a number of international aid and development organisations, and has had the privilege of being mentored by leaders like Tim Costello along the way. He holds a Bachelor of Psychology, and a Master of Arts in Leadership. He has two young children and loves to get out for a surf whenever he can!


9. Annual and other Reports to Council

Download: 2019 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 10 March 2020(PDF, 5MB)

Download: Delegates Report to Council re Specs for Lospalos Clinic – Council Meeting Minutes 13 August 2019(PDF, 165KB)

Download: 2018 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 22 October 2019(PDF, 2MB)

Download: 2017 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 22 October 2019(PDF, 115KB)

Download: 2016 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 27 March 2017(PDF, 2MB)

Download: 2015 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 14 September 2015(PDF, 3MB)

Download: The Timor-Leste Municipal Cooperation Agreement Report – Council Meeting Minutes 15 December 2014(PDF, 3MB)

Download: 2014 Annual Report to Council – Council Meeting Minutes 28 July 2014(PDF, 3MB)

Download: Delegation to Lospalos, Timor-Leste - Council Meeting Minutes 10 February 2014(PDF, 153KB)

Download: Amended Delegation 11 June 2013(PDF, 826KB)

Download: 2012 and 2013 Annual Reports to Council and amended Delegation – Council meeting Minutes 11 June 2013(PDF, 2MB)

Download: Updated Rules Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos(PDF, 156KB)

Download: Delegation 7 March 2005(PDF, 2MB)

Download: Amended Delegation – Council Meeting Minutes 7 March 2005(PDF, 153KB)

Download: Establishment of s.86 Committee – Council Meeting Minutes 18 October 2004(PDF, 228KB)

Download: Report on visit by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Delegates to Los Palos, East Timor - Council Minutes 20 November 2000(PDF, 833KB) 

Download: Friendship Relationship between Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and the District of Los Palos, East Timor 2 May 2000(PDF, 150KB)


10. Contact

Friends of Lospalos
c/o Mornington Peninsula Shire
Private Bag 1000
Rosebud 3939.

Phone: 1300 850 600 or 5950 1000