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City ties ‘world class’

Friday, 30th September, 2011

By John Casey

Broken Hill’s Sister City relationship with Bankstown has been described as perhaps the best of its type “in the world” and is likely to be recognised by the national body which oversees the program.

As the contingent from Bankstown today prepares to farewell the city at the end of the week-long Silver anniversary exchange, power brokers are forecasting a deeper and more meaningful collaboration between the cities.

And Sister Cities Australia President Bill Wilson has indicated that as a reward for the success of the BH-Bankstown arrangement the SCA national conference would be held here in 2014.

BH Mayor Wincen Cuy and his Bankstown counterpart Khal Asfour have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding which is intended to develop the 25-year association into a wider range of areas.

“This week we have celebrated a partnership that has 25 magnificent years of history, but we must also look at diversifying the relationship in the future,” Clr Cuy said.

Clr Asfour added that it had been a “mutually enriching friendship” but it was now time to broaden the relationship.

“Sport and cultural exchanges have been the bedrock for this rewarding friendship but broadening the relationship is imperative for the future,” Clr Asfour said.

“The environment, heritage and tourism - and all the things that make councils tick - can be developed and we can continue to learn from one another.”

Clr Cuy foreshadowed an exchange of council staff members to enhance areas such as policy development, community consultation and economic development between the councils.

“It is also vitally important that we encourage the youth of Broken Hill and Bankstown to embrace this relationship to ensure its future,” Clr Cuy said.

“Encouraging the development of their involvement with activities like we see at skate parks is an idea, but whatever we do, wouldn’t it be great to be here in another 25 years saying we have reached 50 (years).

“The outback to the city experiences that the Sister City arrangement generates need to be encouraged well into the future,” Clr Cuy continued.

It was a theme shared by Clr Asfour, who noted the number of school children participating this week had dropped to around 70, whereas in the past that number had been above 200.

At its peak 11 sports had been included at a single Sister City Exchange but this year only cricket and netball were contested.

Former Bankstown Mayor Ian Stromborg (1998-2000) agreed that an injection of younger people was paramount for the future of the exchange.

“The Bankstown-Broken Hill partnership has been recognised as the number one exchange of its type in Australia but it maybe the best in the world,” Clr Stromborg said.

Alderman Bill Wilson echoed that call, revealing he had discussed the BH-Bankstown alliance on the world stage as part of his role as Sister Cities Australia President.

“Just three weeks ago in Cairo with 34 countries in attendance at the Global Twinning Summit organised by Bill Gates (billionaire Microsoft founder) I told them how successful this partnership had been,” Ald Wilson said.

“In the past I have been in Shanghai with international delegates and held up the BH-Bankstown relationship as a model to follow because it is the very essence of what Sister Cities are all about.

“Now we need corporate support to get behind it to make sure this wonderful partnership goes on for years to come.”

BH City Council General Manager Frank Zaknich said the new Memorandum of Understanding had been “many years” in the making and was designed to strengthen the relationship between the councils.

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