News: The Friends of Ermera

Ellie (centre) with Lee Norris and Jan Trezise from Friends of Ermera
In partnership through a shared philosophy, the Friends of Ermera, District Administrator of Ermera and Palms Australia will work together to place and support Ellie Virgona as a Project Officer for the Supporting Teachers of English Program (STEP) in the district of Ermera, Timor- Leste.

The Friends of Ermera is a community based group operating in the City of Casey and beyond. It formed in June 2002 with the aim of helping the people of Ermera to rebuild their lives and their communities. In response to requests from the Ermera District Administration it developed as our primary focus support for the provision of education throughout the District. It has since branched out to support provision of health, water and sanitation programs, women’s groups, nutrition programs, youth support, and sale of products from East Timor.

Daniel Gilfillan at Ermera Cathedral

Since 2003 Friends of Ermera has been receiving requests to assist with the teaching of English in secondary schools in the district of Ermera. In May 2007, following informal discussions with teachers and school directors regarding the need for the support of teachers and the desperate shortage of teaching resources, the Friends of Ermera commissioned a feasibility study to research the needs of the schools and teachers of English in Ermera.

Interest and support exists at the pre-secondary and secondary schools across Ermera and at the District Education Office. The Ministry of Education and the CNFPC (National Centre for On-going Teacher Development) expressed interest in the program as a possible model for teacher development.

Ellie Virgona (Palms Australia volunteer) will commence her placement as Project Officer to implement the pilot phase of the Support for Teachers of English Program from mid September 2008.


Palms Australia is happy to welcome our new Country Program and Community Education Officer, Benjamin Oh.

Ben will undoubtedly be a great asset to Palms as we continue forging our path to a just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful world.

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A partnership is not about money changing hands. A true partnership is about ideas changing minds. - Jan Vandemoortele