Caritas Australia supports programs to protect women and children from gender-based violence in Timor-Leste. We also support programs to enhance sustainable livelihoods and reduce the impact of natural disasters.

Timorese men 

Why we work in Timor- Leste 

We believe that those most vulnerable to exploitation deserve protection, care, and the chance to build their own futures. With women and children suffering from gender-based violence in Timor-Leste, our programs seek to bring dignity, protection, and emotional support to survivors.

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Caritas Australia has been working in Timor-Leste since 1999


Caritas supports two programs through 22 local partners in Timor-Leste


Protection, sustainable livelihoods, disaster risk reduction

Protection Program

Image Credit: Richard Wainwright

Running since: 2016

Partner Agencies: 13 local partner agencies

Aims: To protect vulnerable groups and promote resilience

Who it is for: Women and girl survivors of gender-based violence

Achievements: Almost 2000 vulnerable women, supported by three shelters, have been empowered to take decisions for themselves and to promote and protect their rights - aimed at strengthening the economic activity of vulnerable women. The women reported that small business activities have helped them increase their household income and increase their overall sense of well-being and resilience. Over 200 women's groups were supported through regular discussions and meetings, savings and loan training and support, women's rights socialisation and women's rights advocacy. The support services for survivors was reinforced with the setting up of a new women’s shelter with a consultation with relevant municipal government ministries. 

Fact: Through this program, Caritas aims to reach over 7475 community members, including survivors of gender-based violence and their family members.

More Background

Timor-Leste is one of the youngest countries in the world and one of the least developed. Some progress is being made in improving living standards and building a sustainable economy, although poverty levels remain high. 

Poverty Most people live in rural areas and are subsistence farmers with plots too small to support their families. Nearly 42% of the population lives below the national poverty line - and 48 out of every 1,000 babies born in Timor-Leste 48 die before their fifth birthday.

Gender-based violence is common in Timor Leste. Approximately three in five women aged 15 to 49 say they have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at least once. Vulnerable children and people with disabilities are also at risk of violence.

Natural Disasters impact Timor-Leste’s food security.. Many households don’t have enough food to feed themselves all year round. Changing climate patterns and more intense weather phenomena, such as El Nino, have further increased food insecurity.




How we help

Caritas Australia assists women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence, along with offering programs in disaster risk reduction and sustainable livelihoods, to ensure a brighter future for Timor Leste.



Featured projects and stories:

  • Martina from PC17

    Protection Program

    The Protection Program aims to promote the protection and resilience of vulnerable women and children in Timor-Leste.

  • Fabiana from Timor Leste

    Flabiana's story

    Read Flabiana's inspiring story, which featured in Project Compassion 2012.