CHART co-founder honoured for Timor work

Pat Walsh – as depicted by Tim Lindsey

In recognition of decades of human rights advocacy, Pat Walsh has been awarded the Order of Australia (AM). The formal citation for the award reads: “For service to the international community in the Asia-Pacific region as an advocate for human rights, particularly in Timor-Leste”.

Pat Walsh co-founded CHART with John Waddingham in Melbourne in 2000. Members of CHART, along with the hundreds of Timorese, Australians and others who know of Pat’s remarkable work, congratulate him on this long-deserved official national recognition in Australia.

Decades of Timor work
Pat began his involvement with East Timor in the mid-1970s as chaplain of the Young Christian Students (YCS) and a member of Melbourne’s Australia-East Timor Association.

He began voluntarily working full-time on Timor in 1978 with the Christian Churches-funded Action for World Development. In the early 1980s, he was employed by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) as a consultant to ACFOA’s East Timor Sub-committee where he quickly established a reputation, both in Australia and internationally, for innovative, careful, determined research, writing and action.

Walsh petitioning the UN Decolonisation Committee, New York, 1986

Highlights of his work in this period include driving the establishment of the 1982 Senate Inquiry on Timor,  founding the Timorese refugees support group, RAFT (Re-unite in Australia Families from Timor) and co-founding Christians in Solidarity with East Timor (CISET) and Inside Indonesia magazine.

Pat became the inaugural director of ACFOA’s Human Rights Program in 1985 where he continued to work on Timor and other regional human rights matters for the next 15 years. Work in this period included visits to Indonesia (working on Australian and international links with Indonesian non-government organisations) and Timor (after 1989).  He drove the formation of the East Timor Talks Campaign,  assisted in the formation of the East Timorese-run East Timor Human Rights Centre in Melbourne and was a member of the official Australian observer mission for the 1999 independence ballot.

From 2000, Pat lived for a decade in the newly-independent Timor-Leste. His principal work was first as a consultant in the human rights office of  United Nations Transitional Administration (UNTAET) where he was instrumental in the establishment and conduct of Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR). Since 2005, he has been senior advisor to the the Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat which is charged with promoting CAVR’s monumental report, Chega!, and preserving the archives of CAVR’s work.

Some insights into Pat’s work and experience in Timor-Leste can be found in his recently published book, At the scene of the crime: Essays, reflections and poetry on East Timor, 1999-2010*.

In 2009, the State of Timor-Leste awarded Pat Walsh the Insignia of the Order of Timor-Leste, for his “exemplary service to humanity”.

Pat Walsh Archives

Pat Walsh Timor archival collection

The archival record of Pat Walsh’s Timor advocacy work in Melbourne, 1975-2000 is largely intact.

This voluminous collection contains the day-to-day record of his work – ranging from hand-written notes of decades of phone conversations through countless items of correspondence to a marvellous collection of documents from inside Indonesian-occupied East Timor.

This archival collection is one of the premiere Australian non-government, privately-held collections of Timor materials. It is a treasure trove of primary source research materials on what happened inside occupied East Timor and what actions were taken in Australia and internationally on the issue.

The collection is in the custody of CHART and will be the focus of a major project in 2012 to fully document its contents and to digitise extensive selections of material for eventual access in Timor-Leste. CHART has prepared a draft preliminary guide to the collection contents.

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* Published by Mosaic Press, Melbourne, 2011. Click here for order form

7 Responses to CHART co-founder honoured for Timor work

  1. rob wesley-smith says:

    Congratulations Pat on Aust Govt recognition – well deserved. Now Order of Timor and Order of Australia. If the orders conflict, which will you follow?? Wes

  2. It is a wonderful thing when some really deserving gets recognition…

  3. Bill Armstrong says:

    Congratulations Patrick. Well deserved. It has been a great journey and I have been privileged to have been part of it along the way.

  4. Gillian says:

    Congratulations to Pat on this recognition – how pleasing it was to read about someone so deserving being acknowledged in the Australia Day awards.

  5. Augusto Pereira says:

    Congratulations Pat. I am really pleased to see recognition of your dedicated and hard work. You deserve it.

  6. James Dunn says:

    It is a well-deserved award for Pat who was always the quiet worker,who avoided publicity, often on risky ventures in the field. His work behind the scenes in putting together the invaluable CAVR report was of exceptional importance. And during the 2006 crisis, Pat and Anne remained with their Timorese community, while many other Australians fled to the safety of Darwin. Jim Dunn

  7. Panama says:

    It was the tireless efforts of Australian human rights activists – along with their counterparts in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and elsewhere – who eventually shamed their governments into ending their support for Indonesia’s occupation and helped set East Timor free. However, if we do not also hold our politicians accountable for their collusion in such tragedies, there will be little to stop them from doing so again.

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