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Hosting Chuo City students

These young Japanese students come to experience living with a Shire family, to understand more about living in Sutherland Shire and to make new friends between the two communities.

We have made the difficult decision to cancel our exchange programs for safety considerations. Programs will resume in 2021 with applications tentatively opening in November.

Due to COVID-19, and postponement of Olympics to 2021, exchange programs are cancelled for the 2020-2021 school year.


The Sutherland Shire-Chuo City Sister City Student Program brings Chuo City students to experience life in Australia and participate in various community activities. It offers participants the opportunity to not just visit like a tourist but to be part of the life and culture of the Sutherland Shire.

Each year 24 students arrive in Sutherland Shire from Sutherland Shire's Sister City of Chuo-ku (Tokyo). The Japanese students are all aged between 12 and 14 years, however host students here in Sutherland Shire can be any age between 11 and 17.

The Sister City Student Program is NOT a language-based program, so it is not necessary to be studying Japanese to participate.

The Chuo City students will stay with their host families for 8 nights. After spending a weekend with their host family, they attend school for 3 days with their Aussie host student (or with other students if approved by the Association and the school). The students and their host families attend a Mayoral reception at the Sutherland Council together with the Sutherland Shire students who will be travelling to Japan later in the year. 

The Chuo City students, together with their Aussie Host students volunteer with Sutherland Shire Bushcare in beach regeneration projects, as well as either learning about volunteer surf-lifesaving with a local Surf Club or AFL with AFL NSW. The Chuo City students visit a local Primary school to exchange cultural activities with the students


What to do with visiting students

Host families are advised to basically continue with regular family activities and to include the Chuo City students as part of the family.

Activities such as sports, beach activities, bush walking, cooking an Australian-Japanese meal together, or simply visiting the local supermarket have all proved popular with Japanese students in the past.

Other popular activities include:

- visiting Darling Harbour

- touring the Opera House

- taking a ferry ride

Many families have get-togethers with their friends and neighbours to run a combined BBQ, dinner or activities day.

Who can apply?

​The program is open to:

  • families living in the Sutherland Shire with a child enrolled in Year 7 - 11 at any Sutherland Shire high school; or

  • families living outside Sutherland Shire with a child enrolled in Year 7 - 11 at a Sutherland Shire high school; or 

  • in certain circumstances we will accept families with a child in Year 6 enrolled at any Sutherland Shire primary school - please contact us to discuss.  

It is not expected that students who are going to Japan will also be host students.


The application process

Ready to apply? Here's what happens.

Downloading the form and brochure

Download the application form here if you're ready now. If for some reason you can't access the forms online we can send you an application package. The application also should be accompanied by a recent family photo.  

Security and background checks

It is also necessary for one Reference to be supplied. The Referee form is part of the Host Family Application form. 

The Sister City Association also requires every adult member of the host family residing at the host home to complete a Working With Children Check. More information about the WWCC can be found here. The WWCC for volunteers is free.

A visit to your home by organising Committee members will need to be scheduled at a time convenient to you and your family. 

Need more information?

If you need more information, contact us through the form below. The Host Family Co-ordinator will then be in contact with you by telephone and/or email to supply more information, have a chat about the program.  

Frequently asked questions

Is my home suitable for the exchange students?

Due to the numbers of Chuo city students involved each year, and to help overcome any possible language difficulties, the program requires each Host Family to accept two Japanese students.

The Organising Committee stresses there is absolutely no need for the visiting students to each have their own room during home-stay. It is preferable that the students share a room. It is also not necessary for this to be a dedicated bedroom.

Many host families place fold-out beds or sofa beds in the family, rumpus or lounge room for the Chuo students.

Sutherland Shire homes always seem very large and spacious to the visiting Chuo City students as the homes and apartments in Japan are usually much smaller than those taken for granted in Australia.

Please be assured, if any Host family is uncertain as to the suitability of accommodation Committee members are available to help with ideas and hopefully solutions.

I don't speak Japanese! Is there help?

The Organising Committee members are available at all times for support and assistance during the visit. 

Should any host family experience difficulties communicating, health issues or transport problems the Committee members are available to translate, organise a home visit, transport the adult escorts accompanying the Chuo City students to the host home, assist with transport to a health service or assist with general transport as necessary.

Translators are available 24 hours a day! 

Are host families paid?

No. The Sister Cities Student Program is a Sutherland Shire Community volunteer program. The organisers and all participants do so on a volunteer basis.

The program has always relied on the support of local families who generously open their homes and families to the young students from Chuo City. 

We can provide support, assistance, translators and transport if necessary, however the host family positions are all unpaid. 

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. An Information Evening for families accepted to host will be held at Sutherland Shire Council Chambers on a date to be advised.

Taking part in the Sutherland to Chuo City exchange program was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I made new friends from the Sutherland Shire and from multiple regions in Japan! We became part of the families that we stayed with and were graciously welcomed with open arms and learned what it meant to live in Japan as well as to be part of the Japanese culture. While exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, the exhilarating rides at Disneyland and harvesting rice on a farm, we made memories we will never forget and friends we will forever try to stay in contact with.

Student, 2018

Other aspects of the program

Summer Camp Kids

Applying to go to Japan

Information on how to go to Japan

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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