“The port [in East Timor] was like a scene from Hades. There were piles of what appeared to be burning rags and belongings, there was human excrement on the ground, families crying, people clearly disturbed and frightened.”

Lieutenant Colonel Tim McOwan, Special Air Service Regiment

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Australian-led deployment of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). Australia contributed more than 5,000 personnel to the 22-nation regional force.

Before East Timor’s referendum for independence from Indonesia in August 1999, and after the return of the overwhelming “yes” vote, pro-Indonesian militias unleashed a campaign of violence, murder, arson, looting, and intimidation upon the Timorese people. With the support of the international community, the first Australians from Interfet arrived in Dili on 20 September. The peacekeepers quickly secured Dili before moving out to other areas, disarming militia and at times having tense stand-offs with the Indonesian military. Interfet liaised with Falintil, the military wing of Timorese independence party, and provided medical assistance to the East Timorese. By October the Oecussi enclave on the north coast of West Papua had been secured. With calm restored, a large United Nations peacekeeping force took over from Interfet in February 2000.


interfet live stream

Reflections on INTERFET Symposium live stream

Watch the live stream of this symposium free of charge. 

Tuesday 15 October 2019
10.30 am - 12.30 pm


Reflections on INTERFET Symposium

To mark this significant occasion, the Memorial will convene a special half-day symposium to reflect on and discuss Australia’s contribution in 1999 to establishing the security and stability that helped establish Timor-Leste as a free and independent nation.

Tuesday 15 October 2019
BAE Systems Theatre

Photo: Delivering water on Operation Annandale near Suai, 10.11.1999. Photo Alana Green. Image courtesy of Department of Defence.

Photo of the AWM theatre from the back, audience, presenter and image of a peacekeeper on the PowerPoint slide

Reflections on INTERFET Symposium album

On 15 October 2019, the Memorial hosted the 'Reflections on INTERFET Symposium' to mark the 20th anniversary of Australian-led deployment of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). View photos from the Symposium on the Memorial's Flickr.

Last Post Ceremony

Last Post Ceremony

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of INTERFET

Join us in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial at 4.55pm on the 15th of September to pay tribute to Private Leslie Allen and his service in Second World War and the 20th anniversary of INTERFET.

Medevac at Grotu, photo provided Defence, Image V9920028

Public tour - East Timor Peacekeeping Mission

Marking the 20th anniversary of Australia’s peacekeeping mission in East Timor (Timor-Leste) in 1999, join Head of the Memorial’s Research Centre Robyn van Dyk for a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives.

Photo: INTERFET medic, Private Tammy Smithson, shelters a baby during a medevac in 'Grotu' located in the mountains of the border area of Southern East Timor.

Photographer WO2 Al Green, V9920028, Image Courtesy the Department of Defence