The idea of pairing up cities in different countries began as a way of promoting greater understanding between nations after the Second World War. The hope was that Friendship and Sister City relationships would help people from different countries understand each other better. As such, Ballarat's International Links with Japan, China, England and East Timor have become very successful. City-to-city contact happens at a more 'human' level than at the politically-charged level of country-to-country communication.
Friendship / Sister Cities exchange education and cultural groups, sports teams and develop trade and tourism with each other. Importantly they help ordinary people from different countries meet and learn from each other, and provide the key to the door for many new development opportunities.
The world has changed a lot since Sister City relationships began 50 years ago and nature of the relationships has also changed. While the commitment to international peace and understanding is as strong as ever, Sister Cities are now also benefiting economically from the friendly relationships they have developed.