Relevance of sister cities program

By Yasmin Noone
The notion of ‘world peace’ is a concept that governments past and present have consistently chased almost as often as they have pursued war.
The Sister Cities movement, born from the ashes of World War II, is one worldwide program that aims to cut conflict by encouraging meaningful links
between residents from ‘sister’ territories across the globe.
From youth and sporting exchanges, overseas teaching programs to international business delegations, the program is limited only by the power of networking.
Despite the idealistic outcomes that go hand in hand with the movement, the Sister Cities program has attracted its fair share of negative media attention, much of it at the expense of local councils.
Brian Wilson, an alderman from Tasmania’s Davenport Council, is also the president of Sister Cities Australia. Having joined the movement in 1999 and seen “every sort of relationship – good ones and bad ones”, Wilson remains convinced that Sister Cities programs do benefit local councils and
communities alike.
“We get branded with [going on] junkets,” says Wilson. “When there is something for nothing, people will take advantage of sister cities’ trips, but that’s no different to the usual misuse of privilege.
All organisations have good and bad, and every organisation can be used for good and bad.
“I can point you all over local government to those who do things properly and others that take advantage of things that are in their way. Unfortunately, those occurrences are the ones that get written up, but it doesn’t happen a lot.”
The international exchange component of Sister Cities has also been questioned for its relevance in today’s society, given that the program was born in a very different era.

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