East Timor culture captured at Challenger



Six East Timorese trainees have designed and manufactured an aluminium crocodile, which has cultural significance in their homeland, as part of their process and maintenance training at Challenger Institute of Technology.

The trainees have just completed 15 weeks study at Challenger Institute’s Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training (ACEPT) in preparation for working at global oil and gas exploration company ConocoPhillips.

The program, which commenced in 2009, has seen 24 East Timorese trainees complete a Certificate II in Process Plant Operations at ACEPT.

Process Plant Maintenance Lecturer Richard Frew said the concept of the crocodile, often referred to as Avo in the Tetum language, emerged after asking the East Timorese trainees to come up with a culturally significant object to manufacture as an exercise in design, technical drawing and use of hand and power tools.

“The East Timorese hold crocodiles in high regard and local legend has it that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor,” Richard said.

“The four islands that make up East Timor were included in the design as well as a name plate in recognition of the ConocoPhillips/Challenger Institute partnership and the country’s flag colours were used in the background.”

The day the decision was made to make Avo’s backdrop the East Timorese Flag, was coincidentally the ninth anniversary of the raising of the country’s flag and the lowering of the United Nations flag as the country was handed back to the people.

The trainees said they were excited to embark on their new careers, and had high praise for the ACEPT training.

“Throughout this project we used different kinds of hand tools to fabricate the crocodile,” trainee Aureo Pereira said.

“East Timor’s ancestors say that our country resembles a crocodile. On East Timor’s first independence day when they raised the first flag, a crocodile was at the centre of the celebration as a symbol of the nation.”

The six trainees will be returning home for a short stay and will then return to ACEPT to further their skills before going to work offshore with global oil and gas exploration company ConocoPhillips.

Clough Amec is also a supporter of the program, providing coordination and logistics and employing the trainees on behalf of ConocoPhillips.

Challenger’s Certificate II in Process Plant Operations is helping create a skills base to ensure ongoing opportunities for East Timorese people in the oil and gas industry.

ACEPT in the leading provider of process operations training, offering qualifications for the Australian oil and gas, mineral and chemical processing industries.