Government expresses condolences on the death of Harold Mitchell AC

Presidency of the Council of Ministers

Spokesperson of the Government of Timor-Leste
Ninth Constitutional Government


Dili, February 12th, 2024

Press Release

Government expresses condolences on the death of Harold Mitchell AC

The Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste received with great sorrow the news of the passing of Australian businessperson and philanthropist Harold Mitchell AC on February 10th, at the age of 81.

Harold Charles Mitchell AC was born in Trafalgar, in the Australian state of Victoria, on May 13th, 1942.  WhatsApp Image 2024-02-12 at 12.49.58

He was the Executive Chairperson of Mitchell Communication Group and Aegis Media Pacific and was also involved in Television Sydney. In 2000, he founded the Harold Mitchell Foundation to donate resources to various causes, focusing on promoting community health, education, and the arts.

Mitchell has played leading roles in several organisations, including the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the New York Philharmonic, the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum Board of Victoria, Opera Australia, CARE Australia, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tennis Australia, the Deakin Foundation, the Melbourne International Festival of Arts and the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

In 2004, he received public recognition for his community commitment, being made Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia. In 2010, he was awarded Australia's highest civilian honour, becoming a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia.

His enormous contribution to the development of Timor-Leste was recognised when he was awarded Timor-Leste's highest civilian honour, the Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste, in May 2023. Harold Mitchell AC has financially supported the Dare Memorial Museum, the Alola Mother Tongue Project, the Santa Bakita Orphanage, and the Balibo House Trust.

The Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, expressed his deep sorrow, saying that “Harold Mitchell AC was a great friend of Timor-Leste and a great man” and “on behalf of the Timorese people”, expressed his “sincere condolences to his family and friends”, recalling that the friendship between the two “began in 2001, when Harold, as President of the Melbourne Festival, invited me to Melbourne as part of a Cultural Exchange between Australia and Timor-Leste”.

Xanana Gusmão also highlighted “the invaluable assistance in several important areas” provided pro bono to his government in 2007.


The Head of Government closed his letter by saying, "Australia and Timor-Leste have lost a brilliant and generous man, but his legacy will continue to influence the lives of many positively”.


Government Spokesperson Minister Agio Pereira said, “Harold Mitchell AC will never be forgotten in Timor-Leste and will forever be remembered with great affection, admiration, and respect. In this moment of sadness, we mourn his passing but celebrate his contribution”.