Indonesian community profile

Information about the Indonesian community in Victoria including where they live and when they arrived, languages spoken, English language proficiency, religions and significant dates.

These profiles are of Victorian communities, using the best available data we have from the 2021 Australian Census.

The Census defines ancestry as the cultural or ethnic group you most identify with.

We acknowledge that the profiles are not definitive. There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


Indonesia is a diverse country that is made up of over 17,500 islands (6,000 of which are inhabited), which are home to over 300 ethnic groups.

Since the 1750s, people from Indonesia have lived and worked along the northern coasts of Australia, seasonally collecting trepang (edible sea slugs). In the 1870s, Indonesians migrated to work in northern Australia's pearling and sugarcane industry. After the White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901), most workers returned to Indonesia.

In the early 1950s, Indonesian students arrived and became temporary residents under the Colombo plan. By 1961, the Indonesia–born community of Victoria increased. They were Dutch Indonesians who were sent out of Indonesia after World War II. The end of the White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901) saw a significant increase in Indonesian arrivals.

The Indonesian community continued to grow in the 1980s and 1990s. Many people were students on temporary visas and those arriving under the family reunion or skilled migration programs. This growth continued throughout the 2000s, with a peak of arrivals occurring in Victoria from 2001–2010 and 2016–2021.

One feature of the Indonesian community in Victoria is its diversity. Many Indonesians are of European origin (mainly Dutch), while more recent arrivals are of mixed ancestries. There is also a great religious diversity in the Indonesian community, with many identifying as Islam, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu.

Indonesian community

The Indonesian community in Victoria is the second largest in Australia. There are 20,013 people in Victoria who have Indonesian ancestries.

The following ancestries have been included in defining the Indonesian community: Indonesian, Acehnese, Balinese, Javanese, Madurese, and Sundanese.

The gender breakdown for the Indonesia community is:

  • male: 8,828 (44.1%)
  • female:11,185 (55.8%).

Most of the Indonesian community is young to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts aged from 0–14 (21.5%) and 25–34 (22.0%).

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data when communicating and engaging with the Indonesian community:

  • The Indonesian community is a growing one, with many people arriving after 2001.
  • The community has high levels of English language proficiency and may therefore understand information or resources in English. It is worth noting there are still many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support, particularly more recent arrivals and older people.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Digital channels can be helpful in reaching the many young to middle–aged Indonesian people who live in Victoria, particularly WhatsApp. Posters or brochures can be helpful for older Indonesian people.
  • For place–based activities, most of the community lives in Victoria’s central and south–western suburbs.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
PDF 3.35 MB
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
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(opens in a new window)


Many people in the Indonesian community live in Melbourne’s central and south–west suburbs.

The City of Melbourne is home to one of the largest Indonesian communities in Victoria, with 2,203 people. The City of Wyndham is next with 1,781 people.

The following 10 local government areas (LGAs) have the largest Indonesian communities.

Local government areaPopulation
Greater Dandenong980
Merri–bek 693

Indonesia-born population

The statistics below focus on people living in Victoria who were born in Indonesia. This will be referred to as the ‘Indonesia–born population’.

There are 20,643 people who were born in Indonesia and live in Victoria.


The top languages spoken by the Indonesia–born community in Victoria are:

  • Indonesian (13,600)
  • Mandarin (4,028)
  • Vietnamese (212)
  • Min Nan (167)
  • Cantonese (128). ­­­­­­­

English language proficiency

The Indonesia–born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 73.6% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 6.5% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 19.5% of the population speak English only.


The Indonesia–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (24.3%)
  • Islam (17.8%)
  • Christianity (10.2%)
  • Buddhism (9.5%)
  • no religion (12.1%).

Years of arrival

There are two key points of arrival for the Indonesia–born population in Victoria: 2001–2010 and 2016–2021. Most of the population arrived after 2001.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


The many different regions, ethnicities and linguistic groups mean that there are very diverse naming practices in Indonesia. These are some common Indonesian naming practices:

  • Names do not follow the Western first, middle, and family names convention. All the parts of the name are considered a single name called the personal name. Indonesian personal names are either one to three words long, although some may be longer.
  • Surnames are not recognised in Indonesia, and some parents add a word component to their child’s name to reflect their family’s lineage.
  • Indonesians generally address each other using their given name in casual settings. In formal settings, an honorific title is used with the given name to show respect to those who are older or have a higher social standing. The titles usually have familial connotations, such as ‘uncle or ‘aunt’ instead of professional meanings.

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • Kartini Day – 21 April
  • Eid al-Fitr – varies every year between March and April
  • Indonesian National Day – 17 August
  • Youth Declaration Day – 28 October
  • Hero Day – 10 November.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Melbourne Museum
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Melbourne's eScholarship Research Centre).