ANZAC Day - Requiem Mass

 
 

Following Dawn Service and breakfast back at the hotel, the entire delegation attended an ANZAC Day Requiem Mass conducted by the Archbishop of Brisbane held at the Cathedral of St. Stephen.

Again the Timorese guests were especially mentioned and warmly welcomed. 

His Grace Mark Coleridge greeted the President Elect after the Mass and took time to converse with all of the veterans.

In the morning tea that followed the service President Elect Lu-Olo also greeted the Governor, the Premier of Queensland and Senator George Brandis, before all boarded buggies assigned to transport us to the beginning of the Parade.

ANZAC Day - Dawn Service

An early start for all leaving the hotel to walk up to the Dawn Service at 3:45am. Added to the early start was the cool weather, or more accurately cold weather if you happen to be from Timor-Leste. Thousands gathered in ANZAC Square in the centre of Brisbane for the 4:30 start.

The delegation was led by the President Elect, H.E. Francisco Guterres 'Lu-Olo' who was announced on arrival and along with some of the veterans made a long official walk to the foot of the Shrine of Remembrance to be seated with the various dignitaries including the Governor and the Premier of Queensland.

During the service the President Elect laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste at the base of the eternal flame. Special mention was made of the attendance of the Timorese delegation and Padre Gary Stone said a few words in tetum during the prayers offered.

24 April - Mates4Mates and Timor Awakening

In the afternoon the delegation went to the Mates4Mates Headquarters in Brisbane.

CEO of Mates4Mates, Simon Sauer, talked about the five main activities of their organisation where  'Mates' are the wounded, injured or ill current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. Many have physical and psychological injuries as a result of their service within the ADF and deserve support as they continue the journey of rebuilding their lives.

Padre Gary Stone went on to talk about the work of Veterans Care which includes the Timor Awakenings program. His son Michael Stone gave some  detail on the program and then a few of those who had visited Timor spoke about the transformative effect on their own wellbeing. They expressed their heart felt gratitude  to the Timorese veterans and the Timorese people for their warm friendship which has helped in their own healing journey.

As usual gifts were presented by the Timor Delegation as a sign of gratitude and respect.

Before leaving the veterans undertook a tour of the facilities of Mates4Mates, set in a three story building which includes social spaces for veterans to meet and enjoy a BBQ together and a gym to help with physical rehabilitation and for fitness training to boost wellbeing.

The veterans learned a lot about what these organisations are doing and also received kudos for their own role in assisting Australian veterans through the Timor Awakenings program.

 

21 April - To Townsville

The day started early with a transfer to the airport at Brisbane, and a two hour flight north to Townsville.

Visit to Lavarack Barracks

Soon after landing at the airport in Townsville the delegation was in a bus and on the way to Lavarack Barracks. This place is home to the 3rd Brigade of the Australian Army which provided the nucleus of the INTERFET deployment to Timor-Leste in 1999 and Operation Astute in 2006.

The Commander of the 3rd Brigade  Colonel Damian Hill travelled to Timor several times as a part of the INTERFET deployment and gave the delegation a very warm welcome.

Our arrival was marked with an Honour Guard of Australian Service personnel and Colonel Cornelius Ximenes ‘Mau-Nana’ inspected the guard as the senior officer and leader of the Timorese delegation.

The event was covered by the local newspaper, radio and television who interviewed the Veterans Liaison Officer from the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms. Ines Almeida.

The time at the barracks included a briefing on the 3rd Brigade, an exchange of gifts, a smaller meeting for thesenior officers and veterans, and an informal visit to the officers mess where the visiting delegation were able to talk with serving officers.

Reception at Townsville RSL

In the evening a reception was hosted by the Townsville RSL Club. This was an opportunity for the veterans of Timor-Leste to talk informally with the RSL members about the structure and work of the club and to see what might be helpful to consider for veterans care in Timor.

The friendliness of the Townsville people made this a very interactive event with manypositive discussions. Mau-Nana gave a gracious speech of appreciation and gifts were exchanged.

After the reception – and even though many of the group were ‘fading’ – we went in search of ‘etu’ [rice] and enjoyed a meal together at a Thai Restaurant.

A very productive first day of official engagements!

20 April - Arrive in Brisbane

Members of the offical delegation arrived in Brisbane after flying from Dili via Darwin. It was late in the evening and a long day but the reception was warm and included the Australian and Timor-Leste flags on display at the gate.