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. 

Cultural Competence Program
Cultural Competence Program Logo

Join over 300 organisations already creating a better workplace

Find out more
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

Indonesia
  • Population
    258,316,051
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Language
    Bahasa Indonesia (official)
    English
    Dutch
    Javanese
    Other local dialects (over 700 languages spoken in total)
  • Religion
    Islam (87.2%)
    Protestant Christianity (6.9%)
    Catholic Christianity (2.9%)
    Hinduism (1.7%)
    Other (0.9%)
    [2010 est.]
  • Ethnicity
    Javanese (40.1%)
    Sudanese (15.1%)
    Malay (3.7%)
    Batak (3.6%)
    Betawi (2.9%)
    Other (30.1%)
    [2010 est.]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    78
    14
    46
    48
    62
    38
  • Australians with Indonesian Ancestry
    65,886 [Census, 2016]
Indonesians in Australia
  • Population
    73,213
    [Census, 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Indonesia.
  • Median Age
    36 [Census, 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (42.9%)
    Female (57.1%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Religion
    Catholic Christianity (24.0%)
    Islam (18.9%)
    Buddhism (10.0%)
    No Religion (9.4%)
    Other Religion (33%)
    Not Stated (4.5%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Indonesian (46.1%)
    Chinese (39.3%)
    Dutch (4.0%)
    Australian (1.8%)
    Other Ancestry (8.8%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Indonesian (72.2%)
    English (16.8%)
    Mandarin (4.8%)
    Dutch (1.6%)
    Other Languages (4.2%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 90.2% speak English fluently.
    [Census, 2016]
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (43.4%)
    Victoria (24.3%)
    Western Australia (15.6%)
    Queensland (10.0%)
    Other (6.7%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2007 (56.9%)
    2007 - 2011 (17.2%)
    2012 - 2016 (23.3%)
    [Census, 2016]
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/41/id.svg Flag Country Indonesia