“This Centre stands as a testament to the commitment of Scouts Australia to support its near neighbours in developing Scouting for the benefit of their young people,” said Governor-General and Chief Scout of Australia, the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove.
Sir Peter was commenting on the official opening of the Timor-Leste Scout Activities Centre in Metinaro, outside Dili. His Message was read at the special ceremony for the opening.
The Centre was a joint initiative by Scouts Australia and the ACT Government. Working in partnership, the required funds were raised to construct the multi-purpose facility.
“This Centre is the first of its kind in Timor-Leste”, Neville Tomkins, International Commissioner, Scouts Australia, said in addressing the 300 VIPs, leaders and youth at the opening on Friday 26 September 2014. “But it is far more than bricks and mortar – it is a symbol of growth of Scouting in Timor-Leste, and will be the emotional home of Scouting in this country for generations to come.”
“This has been Scouts Australia’s largest international project, to help build a better world,” Neville said. “We also hope this Centre will provide opportunities for Scouting to grow over the coming decades, and to contribute to the growth of this nation.”
The opening marked the end of 4 years of dedicated effort by Neville. He was the main driver behind the “Dollars for Dilli” campaign, which raised close to a quarter of a million dollars for projects in Timor-Leste. He also project-managed the construction working remotely.
Timor-Leste is Australia’s second nearest neighbour. It is the world’s newest nation, but one of its poorest. Over half of the population are under the age of 18, which presents significant challenges for Timor-Leste, but also enormous opportunities for Scouting.
The President of the National Parliament, His Excellency Mr Vicente Guterres, and Minister Mick Gentleman MLA, representing the people of Canberra, opened the Centre, noting that Dili and Canberra are Friendship Cities. Dr Chao, Chairman, Asia-Pacific Region of World Scouting, Reg Williams, Chief Commissioner, and David Jones, National Chairman, were on hand to witness the opening.