‘Aprende Hamutuk’ (Learn together) Program

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) has obtained funding from DIISRTE for a pilot staff and student mobility program with Universidade Nacional Timor Leste (UNTL) in 2013. Three students each from the faculties of Medicine, Education and Agriculture and three staff will take part in a one-month professional experience in Timor-Leste. They will participate in an inter-disciplinary community-based project for at least one week during that time and, where feasible, engage in joint teaching and supervision with UNTL staff and students. Prior to departure, they will undertake cross-cultural training and a short course in basic Tetun facilitated by SSEAC.

Program overview

Date Location People Involved Activity
May-June 2013 Sydney All students and faculty Pre-departure activities
Week of 8 July Dili All students and faculty (except medical students) Arrive in Dili
Week of 15 July    Dili Medical students Arrive in Dili
Week of 15 July    Maubisse All students and faculty Joint community project
Week of 22 July     Dili All Sydney students and faculty and relevant people from UNTL Joint teaching/supervision
26 July            Education and Agriculture Students Return to Sydney
9 August   Medical Students Return to Sydney
Week of 19 August  Sydney All students and faculty Debrief

Preparation and Language Course

Students and faculty will be required to attend a weekly preparation course during the second half of semester 1 in 2013. This course will include:

  • A short course in cross-cultural training
  • Tetum language classes
  • Familiarisation with the history, culture and current priorities issues facing Timor-Leste
  • Medical students will also be required to complete some additional learning about diseases common in Timor-Leste

This time will also be used to undertake preliminary planning of the inter-disciplinary community project.

Interdisciplinary Community Project

One week of the program will be devoted to working across health, agriculture and education on a common problem identified by our Timor-Leste colleagues.

The project will involve exploring solutions to food insecurity in one of the sub-districts, focusing on one or two villages.

  • Health staff/students will be exploring nutrition issues identified through the clinics
  • Education staff/students will visit the primary schools, participating in classroom activities where appropriate
  • Agriculture staff/students will speak with some of the local farmers, visit local marketplaces etc

UNTL staff/students, if available, will work with University of Sydney staff/students during this week.

Student Curriculum Requirements

Each faculty has developed a set of requirements of what will need to be completed during the placement.

Agriculture student curriculum requirements

  • This experience will be used as credit in the Professional Development (AFNR4001) unit of study, which is core for BScAgr, BAgEc, and BResEc candidates.
  • Students will be expected to keep a comprehensive diary while on placement and complete pre-placement, placement and post-placement tasks.
  • Students will be expected to report on either, farm, non-farm or field placements. (N. B. there may some modification of this requirement to accommodate the experience expected in this pilot program)
  • For details of the placement requirements, please email Dr Damien Field.

Education student curriculum requirements

Pre-service primary teachers will not be enrolled in for-credit units of study. They will be placed as native-speaker English teachers, as teacher assistants in a Dili primary school, and will be available to assist in English instruction and in general primary classroom routines.

They will document a portfolio of learning experiences for their developing professionalism including:

  • tri weekly journal reflections
  • a case study of a primary school teacher
  • a case study of a student
  • an audit of the role of teaching and curriculum resources available in the school

For the Interdisciplinary Community Project, they will look at existing curriculum resources for the health, agriculture and environment in primary schools and collaborate with medicine and agriculture colleagues to design new resources for primary school use.

Medical student curriculum requirements

  • This experience will be accredited as the rural placement component of the Community Specialty Block and will be run as a pilot project in 2013.
  • Due to the requirement to align with the main university calendar it will only be available to students starting their Community Specialty Block in Term C, July 2013.
  • Students will be selected by a sub-committee of the Community Specialty Block during April 2013
  • During the four week placement, students will need to complete their core curriculum AND their supervised clinical placements. They will complete three weeks of urban general practice on return to Sydney along with their Population Medicine, SDLP and other course requirements such as the written assessment. (NB: This is reverse sequence to the usual schedule to enable the program to coincide with the other faculties).
  • For further details email A/Prof Lyndal Trevena.

Expenses and Travel

Program participants will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements and ensuring that expenses are met. The DIISTRE student mobility grant provides for AUD$2,000 subsidies per student for nine students. In addition, two scholarships to the value of $1,000 each have been made to ensure the participation of students from low SES backgrounds.

Indicative costs:

  • Return airfare Sydney-Dili via Darwin (with Qantas and Airnorth): $1500
  • One night stop-over in Darwin on outbound journey usually required: $150
  • Accommodation in Dili ranges from USD$30-120 per night in hotels, backpacker hostels, and self-catered apartments (longer-term rates can be negotiated at most locations)
  • Meals: USD$50/day
  • Field trips to the districts will require a car and driver: USD$100 per vehicle per day (each car can take four people, therefore exact costs will depend on total number of participants and traveling days)
  • Language training: Approx. AUD$100/person for two days training and materials. Extra cost required for follow-up tuition.
  • Internet costs: Approx USD$30/week depending on arrangements at hotels and on rates.


To register your interest and for more information please contact the relevant person in your faculty:

  • Faculty of Agriculture and Environment: Dr Damien Field (+61 2 8627 1138)
  • Faculty of Education: A/Prof Lesley Harbon (+61 2 9351 2022)
  • Faculty of Medicine: A/Prof Lyndal Trevena (+61 2 9351 7788)
    Deadline for medicine expressions of interest is 17th April. Students must be undertaking their Community Speciality Block in Term C, 2013.