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Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmão was educated at the University of Melbourne and Monash University and she holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Diploma of Education. It was at Melbourne University that she first met students from Timor-Leste and began translating reports from the clandestine movement, making public the tales of appalling human rights abuses they told. It was during this time that she became an advocate for an independent Timor-Leste, which she remains to this day.
In 2001 Dr Sword Gusmão founded the ALOLA Foundation, a not for profit organisation which addresses the needs of Timor-Leste women survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. The Foundation’s motto is “Strong Women, Strong Nation” and it has a strong record of enabling girls to complete their secondary schooling as well as contributing to a dramatic reduction in rates of infant mortality through promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, family planning and immunisation.
Dr Sword Gusmão continues to Chair the Alola Foundation which has been lauded for its work in the areas of education, advocacy, economic empowerment and maternal and child health.
In 2007 President José Ramos-Horta, her husband’s successor as President, appointed Dr Sword Gusmão as Goodwill Ambassador for Education of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
In 2015 Dr Sword Gusmão was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to Australia-East Timor relations through the development of mutual co-operation and understanding, particularly in the education sector, and as an advocate for improved health and living conditions for the Timorese people.
Dr Sword Gusmão was also awarded the Order of Timor – Leste in May 2016 for her significant contribution to Timor Leste’s independence struggle and the well-being of its people.