Professor David Hill’s report, Indonesian Language in Australian Universities: Strategies for a stronger future, was officially launched by the Australia-Indonesia Business Council at Parliament House, Canberra on 27 February 2012.
The report indicates that Australia’s capacity to benefit from this century’s dynamic growth in Asia is being hindered by our lack of language skills. The Federal Government funded review reveals there were fewer Year 12 students studying Indonesian in 2009 than there were in 1972. University enrolments in Indonesian language also fell nationally by 37% between 2001 and 2010.
With a population of 240 million, Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy, fourth most populous nation, and home to a rapidly expanding middle-class. Its economy is growing by more than 6% per annum, with the IMF projecting its nominal GDP growth rate (2009-15) to be 15.1%: higher than Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Korea, Japan, or the rest of Southeast Asia. Federal Trade Minister Craig Emerson told business leaders last November Indonesia’s economy will double in size over the next decade. It will match Australia’s by around 2025 and be one of the world’s top 10 by 2030. The Government is preparing for closer economic integration with Indonesia via a series of trade and economic partnership agreements, such as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Hill Report recommends 20 strategies to build Australia’s Indonesian language capability, to meet the Government’s goals for the bilateral relationship. The report also forms the basis for a submission to the Henry Review on Australia in the Asian Century.