In 2012 the Bayu-Undan joint venture commenced a significant relationship with St John of God Health Care Outreach Services to deliver the Nursing Development Program in Dili National Hospital.

The principal aim of the project, which was established by the Timor-Leste government and St John of God Health Care Outreach Services in 2009, is to decrease mortality and morbidity among patients treated in Timor-Leste’s public hospitals through improved nursing standards.

This program focuses on capacity building by training and mentoring Timorese nursing staff in departments where there is a high incidence of morbidity and mortality, at the HNGV (Dili National Hospital). St John of God Health Care Outreach Services nurses work alongside the Director of Nursing and chief departmental nurses as well as mentoring 80 Timorese ward nurses to develop knowledge, skills and nursing standards, and to support the implementation of these standards throughout the hospital. As part of this program we support training programs in Dili and Australia, in addition to Basic Life Support training in Dili National Hospital.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse Belina Turiana Gaio Ximenes says her participation in the program has taught her how to care for patients better and communicate with them more effectively. She says the improvements that have been made in her hospital - such as better medication safety and more effective hand-washing - have impacted many people.

Belina has learned a lot from the St John of God Health Care Outreach services nurses she has worked alongside through the program. "The Australian nurses are very responsible for the patient, they never leave them alone, and they are very intelligent and very independent," Belina says.

"I want to be a better nurse - a person with good skills, high communication and good training." Belina says she has improved her skills through training in mechanical ventilators and basic life support practices.

Agustinha Soares, a clinical nurse educator, says the program is helping to create a better future for the country. "When we came back here (from training in Australia) we taught our colleagues what we had learned. It motivates us to show the way."

Esperanca Amaral is a paediatrics nurse who has noticed big improvements in nursing abilities since training in Australia began. "It is so exciting to be part of the changes at the hospital," she says. "The program is helping us by providing equipment and instructions on how to use it."

Quality control techniques are also being enhanced, according to quality control nurse Paulina Pinto. She says St John of God Health Care has worked hard to recognise what the Timor-Leste hospitals and nurses need most. "So the training is related to the jobs we do here," she says.