The Government of Timor Leste has presented the Australian union movement the Medal of the Order of Timor-Leste.

Presented by Timor-Leste’s President the medal is in recognition of the role the Australian union movement played in the campaign for independence for Timor-Leste.

Twenty years ago the Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia after twenty four years of military occupation.

The Australian union movement has a long history of solidarity with the Timorese people, opposing Indonesian occupation and assisting the resistance.

Following the violent Indonesian Government reprisals to the referendum Australian unions campaigned for UN peacekeeping forces to enter Timor Leste, and provided medical and other crucial supplies to the Timorese people.

The union movement in Australia held rallies and blockaded airports to prevent Garuda airlines flights from taking off in solidarity with the people of Timor Leste.

After independence was won, Australian trade unionists helped to train Timorese workers, and built emergency shelters and community facilities.

Australian unions and APHEDA Union Aid Abroad, the global justice organisation of the Australian union movement, continue to work with and support the people of Timor Leste today.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

“This is a great honour for the Australian union movement. Australian unions are proud to stand in solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste and our relationship continues to be strong.

“Today we’re celebrating this legacy of solidarity, and the ongoing relationship between Australian unions and our sisters and brothers in Timor-Leste.

“We are inspired by the strength, courage and resilience of the Timorese people and thank them for this great honour “