Australia Indonesia Perceptions Report 2016: “Indonesians and Australians not so different after all”

Indonesians and Australians share similar views on trade, education and tourism, according to a comprehensive Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) research report conducted by EY Sweeney released on Monday 15 August 2016.

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“It’s clear that Indonesia and Australia have more issues that unite them than divide them,” says Mr Harold Mitchell AC, Chairman of The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

The research report on the perceptions of Indonesians and Australians finds that both countries share similar views on trade and business with 65 per cent of Indonesians saying Australia is an important trading partner and 50 per cent of Australians believing that growing trade would make a big difference in improving the bilateral relationship.

The research, which involved 24 focus groups followed by 2000 face-to-face interviews in Indonesia and 2000 online interviews in Australia, explores how trade, education, health and cultural knowledge can be key drivers of a closer Australia-Indonesia relationship.

Mr Paul Ramadge, Director of The Australia-Indonesia Centre, says “this research represents a considered attempt to better understand perceptions of Indonesians towards Australia and Australians towards Indonesia.”

One area where Australia and Indonesia are on the same page is education. 40 per cent of Indonesians and 31 per cent of Australians believing that education and training will have the biggest influence on future prosperity.

On the topic of improving the bilateral relationship, 59 per cent of Indonesians believe basic education about Australia should be improved in Indonesian schools, and 43 per cent of Australians believe basic education about Indonesia should be improved in Australian schools.

In addition, 49 per cent of Indonesians and 38 per cent of Australians believe travel and tourism could improve Indonesia-Australia relations.

“The story of Indonesia and Australia is often one that focuses on the differences. There is, however, more alignment than may initially be assumed,” says Marc L’Huillier, EY Partner and research leader.

One notable difference between the two countries was in regard to perceptions of future prosperity – 82 per cent of Indonesians perceived they would be better off in 10 years’ time while only 23 per cent of Australians thought the same.

Other findings identified the need for both countries to do more. While 22 per cent of Indonesians had a very favourable perception of Australia, only 6 per cent of Australians had a very favourable impression of Indonesia.

One of the areas the research covers is the extent to which Indonesians and Australians see opportunities to build closer relationships.

“The AIC is setting out to create a knowledge base on Australia-Indonesia attitudes and perceptions that makes a positive and long-lasting impact,” says Mr Ramadge.