I was born in South Purrumbete in the Lakes and Craters district of Victoria, Australia, but now live in Melbourne. I have devoted a large part of my working life to human rights, particularly in Indonesia and East Timor, and am still involved as a volunteer and occasional consultant. These days, I am trying my hand at writing and other creative activities (including vegie gardening and a spot of golf), hobbies that I rationalise as my inalienable rights to freedom of expression, leisure and the arts, as spelled out in Articles 18, 24 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I formerly worked as a priest, teacher, adviser to a students movement and director of the human rights office of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (now ACFID).
I worked in East Timor (Timor-Leste) 1999-2014. In East Timor I was seconded by the UN to help establish and advise the Timor-Leste truth and reconcilation commission (CAVR) and subsequently served as senior adviser to the Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat.
In 2016 I was engaged by Prime Minister Rui de Araujo to help design a CAVR follow up centre of memory, now called Centro Nacional Chega!, which I help out as one of its international advisers.
My principal forays into publishing and writing (besides reports, essays and submissions) have been:
- Editing various magazines in student days.
- Co-founding Inside Indonesia magazine in 1983. (Now on-line).
- Editing Chega! the English version of the CAVR East Timor truth
commission report. (2014)
- At The Scene of the Crime: Essays, Reflections and Poetry on East Timor 1999-2010 (2011) also published in Indonesian.
- Stormy With a Chance of Fried Rice: Twelve Months in Jakarta. (2015)
- The Day Hope and History Rhymed in East Timor and Other East Timor Stories. (2019) also available in Tetum.
- Milking Our Memories: 150 Years of the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete. (2020)
My wife Annie Keogh and I have three wonderful daughters and sons-in-law and six grandchildren. In addition to human rights awards from ACFOA and Video-Education Australasia, I was made a life member of ACFOA in 2000, and awarded the Ordem de Timor-Leste (2009), and the Order of Australia (AM) and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from USQ in 2012.