Donald Van Cooten's passion for alleviating the suffering of impoverished communities was ignited during a visit to West Timor some 25 years ago. Beginning his career as an agricultural scientist, he went on to spend 17 years in SE Indonesia working on a range of capacity building projects, and was instrumental in developing an integrated rice-based cropping system based on permanent raised beds. Don's cross-cultural skills and commitment to helping the marginalised has enabled him to have a role in facilitating initiatives at a village, regional and national level.
Don's extensive interest in the impact of traditional belief systems on community development has led to the publication of reviewed papers in numerous international agricultural journals, as well as village farmer guides in bahasa. His book Ethnoagricultural Development: building on the strengths of indigenous beliefs and practices was published in 2001.
Don's international experience includes his appointment as Australian Consul in West Timor, involving him in Australian-Indonesian ministerial forums and the promotion of bilateral joint ventures. In recent years, Don has managed a range of community uplift initiatives in developing countries around the world.
Don and his wife currently reside in Queensland with their three teenage sons.