Indonesian Australians
Orang Indonesia di Australia
Indonesia Australia
Total population
87,075 (born in Indonesia, 2021)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide
Majority Christianity, with significant minorities of Muslim and Buddhism and small minorities of Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Indonesians, Overseas Indonesians, Cocos Malays, Malaysian Australians

Indonesian Australians (Indonesian: Orang Indonesia di Australia) are Australian citizens and residents of Indonesian origin. 48,836 Australian residents declared Indonesian ancestry on the 2011 Australian Census, while 63,160 stated they were born in Indonesia.

Despite the proximity of the two countries (they share a maritime border), Australia’s Indonesian diaspora community is relatively small. According to the University of Melbourne, Australia is merely the 19th most popular destination for Indonesian migrants.[2]

Migration history

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.

Pre-colonial era

As early as the 1750s, that is prior to European colonisation, seamen from eastern Indonesian ports such as Kupang and Makassar regularly visited Australia's northern coast, spending about four months per year there collecting trepang or sea cucumbers to trade with China.[3]

Colonial period migration

Beginning in the 1870s, Indonesian workers were recruited to work in colonial Australia, with almost 1,000 (primarily in Western Australia and Queensland) residing in Australia by federation.[4] The pearl hunting industry predominantly recruited workers from Kupang, and sugar plantations recruited migrant labourers from Java to work in Queensland.

Following federation and the enactment of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, the first in a series of laws that collectively formed the White Australia policy, most of these migrants returned to Indonesia.[5]


Beginning in 1942, thousands of Indonesians fled the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies 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.[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[9]

Between 1986 and 1996, the Indonesian-Australian community increased to 12,128. According to the Immigration Museum (Melbourne), many migrants were either students on temporary visas. However, other migrants came under either family reunion or skilled migration programs.

21st century

In 2010, Scotts Head, New South Wales opened the first and only English-Indonesian bilingual school in Australia.[10] As of 2016, the Indonesian-born population of Victoria was estimated to be 17,806.[4] As of 2016, Australia is the single most popular destination for Indonesians seeking an undergraduate education abroad.[11]


Religion of Indonesian Australians (2021)[12]

  Christianity (52.6%)
  Islam (19.3%)
  No religion (11.2%)
  Buddhism (10.4%)
  Others (6.5%)

Though Islam is the majority religion in Indonesia, Muslims are the minority among Indonesians in Australia.[13] In the 2006 Australian Census, only 8,656 out of 50,975 Indonesians in Australia, or 17%, identified as Muslim.

However, in the 2011 census, that figure rose to 12,241 or 19.4%.[14] Indonesian communities in Australia generally lack their own mosques, but instead typically attend mosques established by members of other ethnic groups.[13] In contrast, more than half of the Indonesian population in Australia follows Christianity, split evenly between the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations.[15]

In 2016, 24.0% from Indonesian Australians population (73,217 people in 2016) identified as Catholic, 18.9% as Muslim, 10.0% as Buddhist, 9.2% as Atheist and 8.3% as Other Christian.[16]

In 2021, 23.4% from Indonesian Australian population (87,075 people in 2021) identified as Catholic, 19.3% as Muslim, 11.2% as Atheist, 10.4% as Buddhist and 9.4% as Other Christian.

Notable people

Dougy Mandagi of The Temper Trap

Artists and entertainers

Indonesian-born badminton player Setyana Mapasa represented Australia at the 2020 Summer Olympics



Other notable Indonesian Australians

See also



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Grounds, Isobel. "Two countries, two identities? The split lives of the Indonesian diaspora in Melbourne". Indonesia at Melbourne. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  3. ^ Macknight, C. C. (Charles Campbell) (1976). The voyage to Marege : Macassan trepangers in northern Australia. Carlton: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84088-4. OCLC 2706850.
  4. ^ a b "Immigration History from Indonesia to Victoria". Immigration Museum, Melbourne. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  5. ^ Penny & Gunawan 2001, p. 439
  6. ^ Lockwood 1970
  7. ^ Willems 2001, pp. 263–329
  8. ^ Coté & Westerbeek 2005, p. 289
  9. ^ Ikegami 2005, pp. 21–23
  10. ^ Abdellatif, Shayma (8 September 2021). "NSW town becomes 'Kampung Indonesia'". The Junction. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  11. ^ Palmer, Wayne; Missbach, Antje (17 September 2018). "Indonesia: A Country Grappling with Migrant Protection at Home and Abroad". Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ a b Saeed 2003, p. 12
  14. ^ "Community Information Summary – Indonesian-born" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Community Relations Section of DIAC. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  15. ^ Penny & Gunawan 2001, p. 441
  16. ^ "2016 People in Australia who were born in Indonesia, Census Country of birth QuickStats | Australian Bureau of Statistics". Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  17. ^ IMDB Andre Ong Carlesso, retrieved 12 October 2017
  18. ^ Whitfield, Deanne (28 June 2008), "Jessica Mauboy: 'Idol' cultural ambassador", Jakarta Post, retrieved 10 March 2010
  19. ^ "Asia's Top 20 Heartbreakers". Asian Pacific Post. 22 September 2005. Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  20. ^ Thomas, Paul (2012). "Oodeen, A Malay Interpreter on Australia's Frontier Lands". Indonesia and the Malay World. 40 (117): 122–142. doi:10.1080/13639811.2012.684939. ISSN 1363-9811. S2CID 162763070.
  21. ^ Brawley, Sean (2014). "Finding Home in White Australia". History Australia. 11 (1): 128–148. doi:10.1080/14490854.2014.11668503. ISSN 1449-0854. S2CID 142524561.


Further reading