The Next Steps for Australia and Indonesia and how you can get involved


Australia and Indonesia share a long and vibrant history, but never in this history has there been a better time for Australians to visit and learn about Indonesia.

In terms of trade, education and tourism, the Australia-Indonesia relationship is only growing stronger. This means that there are more and more opportunities for young Australians to travel to Indonesia, learn the language, work in the country, or gain experience with an Australia-based role with an Indonesian or bilateral organization such as Garuda, Australia Indonesia Institute or the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association.

As Indonesia is now Australia’s 13th largest trading partner and moving up quickly, as well as the fact that Australian companies are some of the largest investors in Indonesia, Australians who have a strong knowledge and understanding of the country are seen as increasingly more valuable.

Already the largest economy in South-East Asia, Indonesia has a young population with nearly half of its people under the age of 30. Also, as they are estimated to become one of the top five economies in the world by the year 2050, combined with already being the world’s fourth most populous country, having this growing economic giant on Australia’s doorstep can lead to prosperous economic relations between the two countries as well as opportunities for Australians in many sectors for decades to come.

Indonesia is even seeing the Australian government invest in the educational relationship. Under the “New Colombo Plan,” the federal government has already financed more than 3,000 Australian students to study in Indonesia with up to $6,000 available in funding. Other great opportunities include the AIYEP program, now in its 37th year of connecting young Indonesians and Australians, as well as the Walter Mangold Scholarship which helps fund student trips abroad.

The educational relationship goes both ways too. Indonesia has a rapidly growing affluent consumer class of over 70 million people, expected to double in the coming years. Given that Australia is Indonesia’s top study abroad destination, this means more and more opportunities for both countries. This growing connection between the two countries means greater cultural exchange, and consequently, language exchange. In our increasingly globalised world, multilingualism is becoming a more and more sought-after skill for which employers look. For example, the United Nations lists multilingualism as one of its “core values”.

If learning a language has always seemed like a dreaded task to you, then Bahasa Indonesia will be your saving grace. Forget the dozens of different verb conjugations that you had to learn in European languages like French or German, and forget the complex character systems that you had to learn in other Asian languages such as Japanese or Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia is an extremely basic language that is fun to speak and easy to learn.

The national language of Indonesia can also be used in Malaysia and there are some real bargains to be had learning online or in-country. One-on-one Skype tutors are between $5-10 USD an hour on Italki, which is considerably cheaper than other languages including Japanese and even Chinese.

The other area where the Australia-Indonesia relationship is set to grow is the already booming tourism industry. Indonesia is Australia’s number one travel destination, with Bali alone seeing over one million Australians visit in 2016. With air travel increasingly becoming cheaper, combined with Indonesia’s immediate proximity, which includes direct flights from nearly all capital cities, the tourism industry and relationship is seeing more and more investment from Australia into Indonesia.

What does this mean for you? Expect more cheap flights to places like Denpasar Airport during your winter holiday break. From there take a taxi to Canggu or into the jungle haven of Ubud where you can enrol in a short-term language course or simply check out Bali beyond the bars and tourist traps.

With more foreign visitors, Indonesia has also invested more money in improving sanitation, hygiene, security and infrastructure. Fears of food poisoning and unsanitary bathrooms, whilst it would be wrong to say no longer exist, have been greatly allayed by Indonesia’s ability to improve the travel experience for foreign visitors.

Previously held views of Indonesia that once existed in a bygone time are now being reinvented under a modern image of a rich, diverse and beautiful Indonesia, full of young people ready to take the step into their next phase of development.

Australia is perfectly placed to help Indonesia take this next step, and together both countries will reap the rewards for years to come. Indonesia is investing in the relationship, Australia is investing the relationship, the only thing that’s missing is you.

Learn more about student funding opportunities for Indonesia


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Thomas Sullivan

Tom Sullivan is an RMIT Bachelor of International Studies student currently on exchange in Bandung, Indonesia with the ACICIS International Relations program. He has a focus on global development with particular interest in both Indonesia and South-East Asia more generally.

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