A special project that brings 11 women artists from Timor-Leste to collaborate with Australian artists is breaking new ground for dance, theatre, music and film artists. The project is entitled Women’s empowerment and combating gender violence through culture and media (Timor-Leste).

The women will spend a month in Brisbane participating in arts training on empowering women and mitigating gender-based violence through the creation of culturally effective media.

Each of these women is a performing artist and connected to peace-keeping NGOs in Dili and surrounding districts which include Ba Futuru, Many Hands International and TERTIL. The women are here to extend their creative and professional skills through working with Brisbane based artists, visiting arts communities in Melbourne and Darwin and learning film making skills from the Griffith Film School.

The lead facilitator is Erika Goldsmith of International Community Arts NGO Kinetic Collective. Goldsmith and her colleague Madeleine Boyd work independently in Timor-Leste annually, where they have developed strong relationships with the Timorese participants. Goldsmith is researching the viability of the project as a model for future womens’ empowerment projects.

The project, informally known as the “Feto Hamutuk” Project, employs some well-known local indie companies, such as Zen Zen Zo to facilitate the growth of these eleven women and will culminate in performances at BEMAC Multicultural Centre of Qld on 24, 25 July.

One key feature of the project is that Jose Ramos-Horta, former East Timor President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, will be at a special event with the women in Melbourne on Tuesday 21 July. The event will screen gender-based violence films produced by NGO BaFuturu and include a performance by the women.

This fellowship project is supported by International Community Arts NGO, Kinetic Collective; peak body for dance, Ausdance Queensland; Griffith Film School and Griffith International.

The Fellowship is funded through the Australia Awards Fellowships, which is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and aims to build capacity and strengthen partnerships between Australian organisations and partner organisations in eligible developing countries in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities.

Project management is through Griffith International’s International Business Development Unit.