Whether collaborative governance takes place in the health sector in Timor-Leste is an open question. While there is broad agreement amongst stakeholders that collaborative governance is desirable, what that means is understood in divergent ways and is subject to significant political influence.
This presentation examines the Family Planning Policy development, acceptance, withdrawal, reassessment and presentation to stakeholders between 2016 and 2017 through the lens of collaborative governance. The Family Planning Policy has particular resonance given the high birth-rate, high maternal and infant mortality, comparatively low contraceptive access and very high rates of domestic violence in Timor-Leste. Women typically die in their first or fifth pregnancies in Timor-Leste.
The study was undertaken as part of a doctoral thesis; most than 40 individuals representing the broad range of stakeholders were interviewed as part of a qualitative examination of collaborative governance within the health field in Timor-Leste. Document analysis was also undertaken. The work took place both from Australia and during three field trips to Timor-Leste in 2017.
The Family Planning Policy as a case study offers an insight into how health policy is formed in Timor-Leste and how the separation between church and state is set aside in the context of a nascent democratic nation. It demonstrates the inherent weaknesses and strengths of policy-making in post-conflict fragile states. Family Planning is a policy area that has unique resonance in economically poor and religiously defined states. The Timor-Leste experience may be instructive for other faith-defined countries in the region.
Belinda Lawton is a PhD candidate who joined RegNet in 2018 to study collaborative governance in the health sector in Timor-Leste. Belinda is a communications specialist who has worked with several health-related NGOs. Her specific interest in the non-government sector developed while she was Director of Corporate Affairs for the Hospital of Hope Timor-Leste. She has worked in Thailand and Bangladesh with The Alliance for Safe Children and was the National Communications Manager for the Royal Life Saving Society Australia. Belinda holds a BA with 1st Class Honours and a Master of Arts from Deakin University. She holds an Australian Postgraduate Award.