As a Certified B-Corporation, Hub Australia donates a minimum of 1% of Hub Australia memberships to non-profit and social impact organisations.
Jan Stewart, Hub’s National Impact Lead, spoke to Terry Bracks, Executive Officer of Balibó House Trust, about the work the organisation is doing in Timor Leste and surrounds.
What is the background of Balibó House Trust?
We were originally established by the Victorian Government in 2002 to purchase and refurbish the iconic Australian Flag House (Balibó House) in Timor Leste, where five Australian based journalists (the Balibó Five) were killed by Indonesian troops in a cross-border incursion on 16th. October 1975.
Made up of relatives of the Balibó Five and other volunteer community members, The Trust works in partnership with and support of the local community and their activities.
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What are some of your initiatives?
The Balibó House has been operating a community learning centre for over 14 years and has also refurbished and extended the Balibó Five community kindergarten, including training local teachers.
Partnering with Rotary Clubs in Australia, we help deliver much-needed equipment to schools along with medical equipment to the local health centre, and in 2016 opened a dental clinic staffed largely by Australian dentists volunteering their time, along with locals employed at the clinic.
We see the importance of social and economic development working hand in hand.
In particular, developing skills and creating jobs for a young, growing Timorese population is a key priority.
What programs are you working on, especially in relation to entrepreneurship/small business?
The Trust has restored the 300-year-old Portuguese Fort and Fort House at Balibó and converted it into The Balibó Fort Hotel. Profits from the hotel are reinvested in local community projects. The hotel is managed by a Timorese woman and employs 18 local people who receive training in hospitality.
The hotel purchases local produce where possible, helping support the nearby markets and local farmers.
We are also developing a café at the Community Learning Centre focused on selling local food made with local produce, as well as establishing a shop to sell locally produced crafts and food products.
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Why do you like working out of Hub Australia?
Personally, I am a casual user of the space and enjoy the central location, the dynamic working atmosphere and the facilities available. I also appreciate Hub’s newer developments such as the café at Hub Southern Cross.
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Why is Hub Australia a good partner for Balibó House Trust?
As a small not-for-profit organisation, we aren’t able to afford permanent office space – we appreciate Hub Australia supporting our work with a complimentary membership.
We employ one person on a part-time basis so Hub suits our needs perfectly, and we are able to use the meeting rooms when needed, helping us work with external partners also.