Indonesian Culture

Indonesians in Australia

Before the white settlement of Australia, Indonesian fishers from Makassar established trading contact with some of the indigenous communities in northern Australia. From the 1870s, Indonesians were recruited to work in the pearling and sugar cane industries in the north of Australia, with many being Javanese. With the introduction of the White Australia Policy in 1901, most sugarcane workers returned to Indonesia while some pearl divers remained. From the 1950s, numerous Indonesian students became temporary residents under the Colombo Plan.


The end of the White Australia Policy saw a significant increase in Indonesian arrivals with the community increasing four-fold between 1986-1996. Those who were new arrivals were students on temporary visas while others came under the family reunion or skilled migration programs.


Today, the Indonesian community in Australia is diverse. Some are of European origin (mainly Dutch), born to parents posted to the Dutch East Indies during the colonial era, while more recent arrivals are of mixed ancestries. There is also a great religious diversity among the Indonesian community, with many identifying as Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu. There are several Indonesian communities, cultural groups, and events. One of the most widely celebrated is the Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August. 

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