Indonesian Australian

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Indonesian Australians
Total population
73,500 (2010, by country of birth)
50,000 (2011, by ancestry)
Majority of Christianity (59%),
Islam (17%), Atheism (13%) Buddhism (11%)
Related ethnic groups
Indonesians, overseas Indonesians, Cocos Malays

Indonesian Australians are Australian citizens and residents of Indonesian origin. In the 2011 Australian Census, around 50,000 Australian residents stated their ancestry to be Indonesian.[1] In the 2010 Australian Census, 73,500 stated they were Indonesian-born residents in Australia.[2]

Migration history[edit]

The number of permanent settlers arriving in Australia from Indonesia since 1991 (monthly)
People born in Indonesia as a percentage of the population in Sydney by postal area.

As early as 1750, seamen from the Indonesian island of Makassar had settled on Australia's northern coast, spending about four months per year there collecting sea cucumbers and taking them back home to trade. By the late 19th century, the pearl hunting industry was recruiting workers from Kupang, while sugar plantations had hired migrant labourers from Java to work in Queensland; Dutch colonial authorities estimated they formed a total population of about 1,000. However, after the federation of Australia and the enactment of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, the first part of a series of laws which collectively formed the White Australia policy, most of these migrants returned to Indonesia.[3] Beginning in 1942, thousands of Indonesians fled the Japanese occupation of Indonesia and took refuge in Australia. Exact landing statistics were not kept due to the chaotic nature of their migration, but after the war, 3,768 repatriated to Indonesia on Australian government-provided ships.[4] In the 1950s, roughly 10,000 people from the former Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), who held Dutch citizenship and previously settled in the Netherlands, migrated to Australia, bypassing the White Australia policy.[5][6] Large numbers of Chinese Indonesians began migrating to Australia in the late 1990s, fleeing the political and economic turmoil in the aftermath of the May 1998 riots and the subsequent fall of Suharto.[7]


Though Islam is the majority religion in Indonesia, Muslims are the minority among Indonesians in Australia.[8] In the 2006 Australian Census, only 8,656 out of 50,975 Indonesians in Australia, or 17%, identified as Muslim. They lack their own mosques, but instead typically attend mosques established by members of other ethnic groups.[8] In contrast, more than half of the Indonesian population in Australia follows Christianity, split evenly between the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations.[9]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]




  • Coté, Joost; Westerbeek, Loes (2005), Recalling the Indies: Colonial Culture and Postcolonial Identities, Askant Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-90-5260-119-9 
  • Ikegami, Shigehiro (2005), "A Profile of Indonesian People in Australia", Memoirs of the Shizuoka University of Art and Culture 6: 21–30, retrieved 2010-03-10 
  • Lockwood, Rupert (October 1970), "The Indonesian Exiles in Australia, 1942-1947", Indonesia 10 (10): 37–56, doi:10.2307/3350634, JSTOR 3350634 
  • Penny, Janet; Gunawan, Tuti (2001), "Indonesians", in Jupp, James, The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People, and Their Origins, Cambridge University Press, pp. 439–441 
  • Saeed, Abdullah (2003), "Who are Australia's Muslims?", Islam in Australia, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 1-86508-864-1 
  • Willems, Wim (2001), De uittocht uit Indie 1945-1995: De geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, ISBN 978-90-351-2361-8 

Further reading[edit]

  • Da Costa, Hilary (September 1992), "Indonesians in Australia - Profile of a little-known community", Inside Indonesia 32, ISSN 0814-1185 
  • Nonini, Donald M. (2004), "Spheres of speculation and middling transnational migrants: Chinese Indonesians in the Asia-Pacific", in Yeoh, Brenda S. A.; Willis, Katie, State/Nation/Transnation: Perspectives on Transnationalism in the Asia-Pacific, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-30279-X 
  • Penny, J. (1993), Indonesians in Australia, 1947 to 1986, Working Papers 84, Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, ISBN 0-7326-0513-X 
  • Siregar, Bahren Umar (1987), Language choice, language mixing and language attitudes: Indonesians in Australia, Ph.D. dissertation, Monash University, OCLC 34466563