Australia Awards Alumni and Civil Service Commissioner Carmeneza dos Santos Monteiro from Lautém is passionate about using her skills and knowledge to improve public policy in Timor-Leste.
In her teenage years she was more interested in supporting the guerilla fighters to secure independence than in her education. “Most of the time I wouldn’t go to school. I’d go and organise different things with colleagues to support the guerilla fighters for independence”.
But thanks to the efforts of an Indonesian nun, Sister Carolina, who was who was her Highschool Headmistress and teacher in Lospalos, Carmeneza was pursuaded not to give up her studies. She acknowledges that “If at that time I wasn’t pushed, I couldn’t be what I am today, I’ve been lucky to have such amazing people in my life”
Based on her resistance experience and motivated by her teacher, Carmeneza became increasingly interested in international politics and understanding world dynamics. And, in 2007, she sucessfully applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship to study for an honors degree in International Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Carmeneza was motivated to study international politics so she could get different perspectives with which to explore why things happen in the world and to understand how to influence public policy in Timor-Leste and contribute to the country’s development.
She credits her experience in Australia as helping build her confidence, knowledge and experience. As well as developing her organisational skills, she got involved with the Rotary Club, the Oaktree Foundation, Catholic community and politics at ANU. All of which gave her the opportunity to learn how to work with different people with different backgrounds.
“The Australia Awards is not only about academics skills. It’s also about gaining new perspectives on how society operates. It gave me the tools and skills to communicate my own thoughts. Study in Australia also encouraged me to think and value critical analysis.”
Currently, Carmeneza works as a Commissioner for Civil Service Commission and as a Strategic Policy Adviser with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion. Both roles provide her with the opportunity to influence and shape public policy reform.