John Howard farewells troops going to East Timor


John Howard farewells troops

Getty Images/Paula Bronstein

Resource title: (Then Prime Minister) John Howard farewells troops going to East Timor

Digital resource identifier: R8396

Resource description This photograph was taken in 1999 as Australian forces (more than 5000) prepared to head up the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) on a peacekeeping mission.

Stage of schooling: Lower Secondary

CCE focus: Government and Law; Citizenship in a Democracy


Australian military personnel were part of Interfet, a 16-nation peacekeeping force sent to quell violence that had escalated in East Timor in 1999. Violence erupted after the East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-organised plebiscite. By studying this photograph and support notes, students are able to explore Australia’s political and military connections with other nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Opportunities for Civics and Citizenship learning

‘John Howard farewells troops going to East Timor’ provides opportunities for students to:

  • explore some different types of government that exist in the world

  • consider what impact different types of government have on citizens

  • consider the role that politics and

  • governance can play in violent confrontations in some countries

  • research times in history when members of the Australian community have been divided about the Australian government’s response to a situation in another country

  • analyse the role played by political leaders and parties to determine the role Australia and Australians will play in international events.

Ideas for the classroom

  • Ask students to look at the photograph without the title and predict what is happening.

  • Ask students to discuss the reasons for their answers.

  • Provide students with dot-point notes summarising the content of the photograph and the role played by John Howard in sending troops to East Timor.

  • Ask students to suggest some of the responsibilities of the then prime minister identified in the photograph and notes.

  • Ask students what other information they might want to know about this time in Australian history and how they would find it.

  • Complete the activity by asking students to write a letter to a newspaper editor either supporting or not supporting troops going to East Timor. Ask students to state the reasons for their viewpoint.