How the Friendship began

After East Timorese independence in 1999, the East Timorese Consulate sought to build links between East Timorese and Australian communities. Senor Abel Guterres (East Timorese Consul General to Australia) travelled widely across south-eastern Australia promoting interest in the new nation and assisting local communities to establish friendship links with East Timorese communities.

The association with Atauro Island grew out of links established by residents of the Indigo Shire with Atauro Island. Members of the Indigo Shire Junior Council first proposed the idea of a local Friendship Group with the sub-district of Atauro in 2004.

The Friendship was formalised in 2008 when Deputy Mayor Frances Walsh from the Indigo Shire travelled to Atauro Island for the signing of the formal Memorandum of Understanding that links the two communities. Since then the Indigo Shire has established a committee responsible for advancing the friendship.

In 2015 the council, signing a Local Government Protocol, further enhanced the relationship. This commits the council to a partnership with the Victorian and Timor Leste governments in developing local government on Atauro and in Timor Leste in general.

In 2019/2020 the Friendship Group changed from being a council S86 committee to an incorporated community body known as Indigo Shire Atauro Island Friendship Inc. This new group includes the previous shire committee and the Friends of Atauro group.

Deputy Mayor Frances Wash signs Friendship agreement in 2008

Cr. Peter Croucher with Indigo Shire Junior Councillors