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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  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Language
    Bahasa Indonesia (official)
    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
  • Australians with Indonesian Ancestry
    65,886 [Census, 2016]
Indonesians in Australia
  • Population
    [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 Flag Country Indonesia