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Chuo Exchange Program

The Sutherland Shire-Chuo City Exchange Program is a full escorted, short-term exchange that focuses on cultural exchange that has been running for over 30 years.

We have made the difficult decision to cancel our exchange programs for safety considerations. Programs will resume in 2024 with applications tentatively opening soon.

Due to COVID-19, the Chuo exchange programs are cancelled for the 2020-2023. 

Please register your interest by using the "expression of interest" button below. We will reach out to you when we start our programs soon. 


The Sutherland Shire-Chuo City Sister City Student Program has multiple aims. These include:

-Reconnecting students with their own community

-Fostering intercultural understanding and friendship between Sutherland Shire and our Sister City of Chuo.

This program offers its participants the opportunity to not only visit Japan as a tourist but to become part of daily life and culture in Chuo city, Tokyo and Japan.

Students who are selected to participate in the program will be representing not only themselves, their families and their schools, but they will be ambassadors of Australia and the Sutherland Shire. Our program is a lot of fun, and it allows participants to see many exciting places and sights. But as a cultural exchange the Sutherland-Chuo Sister City Program also focuses on fostering:

-personal integrity

-cultural sensitivity

-social awareness

-community participation. 

The Sister Cities movement believes that;

"the most powerful force in the promotion of international understanding and peace is exposure to different cultures."

Youth Exchange provides thousands of students with the opportunity to meet people from other lands and to experience their cultures leading to better intercultural understanding and encouraging a peaceful future.


What will you do?

Annually we send up to 12 students from across Sutherland Shire to Chuo City, Tokyo for 15-18 days. Over this time they experience a Japanese culture, language and school.

During the 15-18 days students will: 

- visit and tour famous places like shrines, temples and Tokyo Disneyland.

-Experience living with a host family

-Attend school

-Meet the Mayor of Chuo City

-They will  participate in a 1-2 day volunteering or personal challenge program, in the Japanese countryside.

-Travel on the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto city

- Stay in traditional accomodation including a temple and Ryokan's.

Visit various World Heritage Sites like the Golden Temple (Kinkakuji) and  Kiyomizudera

- See bowing deer in Nara

-Take lessons with local Masters in pottery, martial arts and/or Taiko drumming!

It is a full schedule that allows students to see and learn as much about Japan as possible! They will come home experts on all things Japan!

Who can apply?

​The program is open to:

  • students living in the Sutherland Shire who are enrolled in Year 7-11 at local Shire schools; or

  • students enrolled in Year 7-11 at local Shire schools but not living in Sutherland Shire; or 

  • students living in Sutherland Shire and enrolled in a non-government high school outside the district. 

The trip to Japan is between 15 to 18 days, and is fully chaperoned.


What will it cost?

Thanks to sponsorship, the cost of our program quite low compared to many other student exchange programs. 

Depending on the currency exchange rates and itinerary, the cost is usually between $2800 and $3000.

This cost will include everything except travel insurance (compulsory), uniform, some lunches and spending money. With more students taking part, the overall cost will become less.

The Sister City Committee organising committee will be responsible for: 

  • the booking of travel fares

  • cultural activities

  • accommodation (other than Host Family placement)

  • plus some tours.

PLEASE NOTE: Families will be advised when payments are due.

Once a student is selected:

  • a copy of passport must be provided

  • a $1500 deposit must be paid within 1 week of acceptance

  • the remainder is to be paid in 2 instalments about 3 weeks apart

Please note: *Cost based on 2019 pre-COVID exchange. These prices will vary based on airport taxes, airfares, travel insurances etc


The application process

Ready to apply? Here's what happens.

Downloading the form and brochure here

Download the application form here if you're ready now. Please take careful note of the additional documentation needed as part of your application. 

What happens after submission

Your application will go through several stages.

  • Stage 1) Download the form and submit by the cut-off date as specified in the document.

  • Stage 2) Contact the Outward Co-ordinator for a chat about the program.

  • Stage 3) A group interview session will be held with a panel, usually at Sutherland Shire Council.

Students will be asked questions covering aspects of local and national interest, cultural awareness and reactions to situations.

When selecting participants, the selection panel will consider the student's: 

  • application form

  • references/reports

  • telephone call

  • personal appearance 

  • initiative

School referees may be contacted. As parental involvement and attitudes are also vital to the success of the program, an association member will also interview attending parents at the same time as the student interview.

What happens if you're successful

Successful applicants will be notified shortly after the interviews are held. An initial payment is required to secure your place within 1 week of your offer of participation. This is detailed further in the application documents.

The Sutherland Shire - Chuo Japan Sister City Association Inc will also require the parents'/guardians' acceptance of an indemnity form. Please complete this form at the time of application.

An information evening for families of accepted students will be held about 7 weeks prior to departure.

Successful students will need to attend preparation classes - usually in Sutherland. Classes are held one weekday afternoon from about 4-5pm and Saturday or Sunday afternoons for 2 hours between 1:00pm and 4:00pm (times to be negotiated with the group). Classes usually commence 5-6 weeks prior to departure. Students who cannot attend must contact the Coordinator to discuss different arrangements.

Need more information?

If you need more information, contact our Outward Travel Coordinator below. You will be contacted by email or phone, and have a chat about the program. You will get an application package as well, just in case you decide to go ahead and apply for the program.


Frequently asked questions

When does the trip happen?

Departing in the last week of Term 3, we will the delegation Sutherland Shire students will travel to Japan for 15 to 18 days, returning to Sydney between the final week of school vacation.

The exact dates will be selected to obtain the best flight costs and to fit scheduling requirements in Japan.

Is it compulsary to host if I get to travel?

No. It is not compulsory to host on return, however we strongly recommend it as it is a rewarding experience, and families and students are able to make a connection before Sutherland students leave for Japan. Chuo City students arrive in Sydney in July, with travel to Japan taking place in September/November. Find out more about what it means to be a host family here. 

Do I have to be studying Japanese to go?

No. This is a cultural exchange and not a language exchange, it is NOT necessary to be studying Japanese to participate in the visit to Japan.  If you are studying Japanese, however, the program provides unique opportunities to engage in speaking and listening in a real setting. You will gain insights into Japanese culture first hand.

What are the pre-trip classes about?

Students who are accepted onto this program will need to attend a series of preparation classes. The aim of these information sessions is simply to prepare the students for visiting and living in Japan so that they may can get the most out of their trip.

These will take place for the 5-6 weeks prior to departure on: 

  • One weekday afternoon/evening

  • One weekend afternoon

(exact times to be advised to each group) 

Classes could include:

  • Dinner at a local Japanese restaurant

  • Visiting to the Japanese Learning Centre at Kirrawee High School

  • A trip to a Japanese exhibition or event

  • Regular cultural and preparation lessons

  • Basic polite Japanese sentences,

  • Japanese etiquette

  • Help to develop strategies to cope with homesickness and living in a land where everyone speaks another language!

Why do I need my uniform?

As a Student Exchange Program the Sutherland - Chuo Student visit to Japan requires the participants to wear their full school uniform while at school in Tokyo and at some official functions both before departure and in Japan. 


Please contact the Outgoing Coordinator and together we can work out a solution. The Student Program also has a uniform of Sister City polo shirt (provided by the Program) and black school-style trousers and black shorts. Many Sutherland Shire students will already have these black school style trousers as part of their regular uniforms.  More detailed information will be provided to successful applicants.

The organising Committee will also discuss with families and students accepted to travel about the acceptable standards of dress to be followed while in Japan. There is a noticeable difference between Australian and Japanese acceptable dress code for teenagers. Australians tend to wear casual dress unless formal events are specified. However the reverse is more common in Japan. Japanese teenagers will often wear school uniform even on weekends. More details will be provided as the program progresses.

What do I need for traveling?

You need a valid passport. To enter Japan, students will require a passport that is valid for six months after their arrival date in Japan. Any student not holding a valid passport should apply for one as soon as possible after their selection. Any students not travelling on an Australian passport or unsure about their passport validity should contact the Outgoing Co-Ordinator.

Is there an Information Evening?

We prefer to talk to you directly and personally rather than at a more impersonal Information session.  We encourage you to call to chat about the program and if still needed we can organise to meet at a time convenient to you. There is a Orientation Session for those selected to travel.

What places will I get to visit in Japan?

What about safety and security?

There are always at least two adult escorts accompanying the students. All escorts are long-term members of the Sutherland Shire - Chuo City Committee or well known to the Committee. 

In Japan the group does not stay or travel in the Fukushima exclusion area. 

Whilst in Tokyo the escorts carry a mobile phone. Each student is provided with the number and is able to contact the escorts direct 24 hours a day. The escorts stay in central Tokyo to facilitate quick access to students at home or at school. In Tokyo we are also accompanied by representatives of the Chuo City Board of Education and an interpreter. Should a problem arise the Chuo Board of Education will provide a car, interpreter and driver to transport the escorts to the student as quickly as possible. 

The host families in Japan are selected very carefully by the Chuo City Board of Education and the Principals and staff of the four Chuo City Junior High Schools participating in the Program.  They are subjected to a stringent selection process, and must be well known firstly to the "Home Teacher" responsible for the Chuo student applying to host. The family must also be known to and recommended by the Principal of the host student's school. These recommendations then go before both the Chuo City Board of Education and the Chuo City Council for vetting and final approval. The hosting students are all 13 - 15 years of age.

Under NSW Government initiatives in International Child Protection, adults accompanying children and young people traveling overseas, and the children and young people themselves, remain subject to all Australian and NSW Child Protection legislation. The Sutherland Shire - Chuo City Sister City Association is strongly committed to the safety of all children and young people in our care. All escorts are subject to NSW Police and Prohibited Employment scrutiny and our Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct for Escorts is available to all participants.

It was our privilege to be able to host our daughters’ host sister from her previous exchange to Japan. We are so grateful that we were given the opportunity to become involved as we were able to host two of the most beautiful girls and welcome them into our family. We wanted to create wonderful memories for them and we did everything from walking across the Harbour Bridge, visiting Taronga Zoo to catching a Ferry across the harbour, but they had just as much fun going to afternoon sport, chasing the ducks at Audley Weir and having a pizza and video night with all of my daughters friends that they had met at school. Shopping at Miranda was also a big hit! We learnt just as much about the girls and their lives in Japan as they did about us. They felt right at home very quickly and enjoyed everything we did as a family. They especially enjoyed trying our food and their packed lunches for school! It was very hard for all of us to say goodbye and as soon as one started crying we all joined in. Hosting was an amazing experience for our whole family and was so much fun. We are still in regular contact with the families and our son has since taken part in the program and was lucky enough to attend the girls’ high school and be hosted by one of their family friends. He was absolutely so lucky to have that relationship ... as well as making new ones.

Host Family, 2018

Other aspects of the program


Becoming a host family

Volunteer to host visiting students from Chuo City

About the Committee

Get to know the volunteers behind the program

History of the exchange

Information about how the program started

Have questions? Contact us!

If you have questions about any of our exchanges, click on the program below of your choice.


Our sponsors and partners

We are generously supported by many organisations that have helped made our exchange programs possible

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