As the name denotes, Sister Cities Australia Inc. (SCA) is an association of cities, towns, shires, ports and even states that have a Sister City relationship. SCA also takes a role in matching cities and towns in Australia with cities and towns both from overseas and within Australia seeking a sister city relationship. SCA is also the link between an Australian sister city or town and the many projects and ideas that have been experienced here and abroad.
Many cities, municipalities and shires in Australia have at least one sister city relationship with a city or town overseas, or within Australia with many have multiple affiliations.
The objective of Sister Cities Australia is to provide an umbrella of support and to promote these affiliations. SCA also aims to provide a forum for cultural, economic and educational interchange between communities and to encourage friendship, co-operation and understanding to improve peaceful co-existence worldwide.
Origins of the Sister Cities Movement...
Sister city activities were independently commenced on many different continents, but all had the same goal, to help develop enduring networks of communication between the cities of the world to cut across boundaries and reduce the likelihood of polarization and conflict among nations. President Eisenhower’s People to People program, which began in America in 1956, gave a huge boost to the concept of twinned cities. Some linkages occurred before that, but the Civic Committee of People to People (one of 40 People to People committees) which promoted town affiliations, eventually became Sister Cities International in 1974.
Because sister city programs were initiated at the national level in many different countries during the same time period, approaches as to how the program would be structured and function varied. In Europe, the program enjoys great popularity and involves thousands of cities of all sizes linked with two, three and more partners. This is often known as twinning or twin cities. The links tend to be very formal with resolutions establishing them accompanied by documents of agreement detailing the type of exchanges to be undertaken. In many countries links have to be approved by the national government.
In Australia, the appeal of 'international understanding and friendship' has been attractive to community affiliations with Coventry in England that originated in 1939. A relationship was established between Saddleworth in South Australia and Saddleworth Parish in the United Kingdom in 1941, while one has existed officially between Hunters Hill and Henley-on-Thames since 1950, and one between Bega, New South Wales, and Lyttleton, Colorado, United States of America, since 1956. Today Australian cities and towns have over 500 sister city affiliations throughout the world and this number increases every year.
History of Sister Cities Australia...
(Formerly the Australian Sister Cities Association Inc.)
In 1978 a group of like-minded people in Australia became aware that in the United States of America sister cities across that nation came together annually to discuss matters of mutual interest and benefit. Research disclosed that there appeared to be at least twenty-six sister city affiliations throughout Australia, but there was no interchange between them. They proposed to bring these cities together. The Newcastle Sister City Committee agreed and hosted the first Sister City Convention in September 1979.
It was decided at this convention that sister city conventions should continue on a regular basis. A committee was formed at the Goulburn Convention in 1980 to consider the drafting of a constitution to enable delegates at the next convention, to be held in Hobart, to discuss whether a formal organisation was desirable. A second committee was appointed to refine the document for further consideration.
A general meeting of the proposed Australian Affiliated and Sister Cities Association was held on Wednesday, 29 September 1982, in Alice Springs and adopted an amended constitution, altered the name to the Australian Sister Cities Association and elected its first Executive Committee. Since then a conference has been hosted annually by different cities which have applied to be hosts.
Further conventions, later to be called conferences, have been held in Townsville in 1983, Bega in 1984, Albury in 1985, back to Hobart in 1986. Lake Macquarie in 1987, Cairns in 1988, Shepparton in 1989, Darwin in 1990, Devonport in 1991, Penrith in 1992, Broken Hill in 1993, Belmont in 1994, Hobsons Bay in 1995, Cairns again in 1996, Hobart in 1997, Port Stephens in 1998, Darwin again in 1999, and in Adelaide for the first time in South Australia in the year 2000. Bunbury-Busselton hosted in 2001, Bendigo in 2002, Orange in 2003, Noosa in 2004, Latrobe in 2005, Devonport again in 2006, Darwin once again in 2007, Gosford in 2008, Tamworth 2009, Rockhampton in 2010, Toowoomba in 2011, Devonport in 2012, Broken Hill in 2013, Bunbury in 2014, Blacktown in 2015, and no conference held in 2016.
Sister Cities Australia Secretariat...
Sister Cities Australia has a voluntary secretary who is a member of the elected executive. The Honorary National Secretary responds to requests for information from Australia and overseas on behalf of the Association.