Signs of stability in East Timor
The new Australian Commander of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in East Timor says there are many signs of progress in the country.
Commodore Stuart Mayer took over as the Commander of the Australian and New Zealand forces in East Timor yesterday.
He says East Timor is stable, but still faces challenges.
"You have a very high number of young people, unemployment, getting meaningful work for the young people so they can be committed to the country so they feel invested in its future so they don't need to turn to alternative ways of gaining their security," he said.
"There's no indication of that happening but we want to continue to provide the opportunities so they are channelled in a productive way."
There are about 650 Australian defence force members in East Timor as part of the ISF.
Brigadier Bill Sowry was the Commander of the ISF for the past nine and a half months, before handing over to Commodore Mayer.
He also says there are increasing signs of stability.
"Determining how they see the future of the ISF, once they've had that they will have discussions with our government and the United Nations because it is a trilateral arrangement," Brigadier Sowry said.
He says he has seen significant changes in his time as Commander of the Australian and New Zealand forces in East Timor.
"The Esplanade on the beach here in Dili is awash with people of an evening walking buying food from the various night-time cooking stalls that dot the beach, the numerous restaurants that are there, traffic everywhere," he said.
"So people are out and about there's not that sense of caution that was previously there nine months ago."