Indonesian Literacy in Australia

Vocational Experiences of Indonesian Language Graduates

Samuel Bashfield



This thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours
in Indonesian Studies.






Indonesian Department
School of Languages Cultures and Linguistics
MONASH UNIVERSITY
2013






Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 2

DECLARATION

This thesis contains no material that has been accepted for the award of any other degree in
any University. To the best of my knowledge and belief, this thesis contains no material
previously published or written by any other person, except where due reference is given in
the text.

Signed:

Date: 31
st
October 2013





























Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 3

THESIS SUMMARY
Indonesian literacy in Australia has received a considerable amount of attention in the
context of a broad review of Asian literacy in Australia. This attention has been expressed through
government policy which aims to increase the raw numbers of Indonesian language speakers in
Australia. This policy is guided by the belief that Indonesian literate Australians are needed in the
workplace, which will allow Australian governments and businesses to better operate in the Asian
Century. Such policies have directed over $280 million of funding into increasing the numbers of
Indonesian literate Australians. Language Planning Theory, which is concerned with the extent to
which language can be structured, acquired and used in accordance with a language plan, provides a
unique perspective for the study of Asia Century Policy in Australia.
This thesis analyses the policy, using the perspectives of the Indonesian language graduates
who have been subject to the policies. This study surveyed 139 Indonesian language graduates all of
whom graduated from various Australian universities in the last ten years. The study contains
various questions, which pertain to how the participant uses their Indonesian language skills in their
workplace, and in their personal lives. Several focus group sessions took place after the survey,
which asked participants to further detail aspects of their life related to their Indonesian language
ability, especially career related. The survey and focus group sessions elicited original data, which
demonstrates that few Indonesian literate Australians apply their linguistic ability in the workplace
post-study. This thesis can contribute positively to policy by informing policy makers on the
outcomes of graduates who have gained Indonesian literacy and by providing an illustration of their
employment outcomes.




Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 4

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to firstly acknowledge my supervisor, Mr. Paul Thomas, for your hard work
throughout the past year. Thank you for the many hours spent structuring this study and reviewing
my writing. Terima kasih Pak.
Many thanks are directed toward both Dr. Beatrice Trefalt and Mrs. Yacinta Kurniasih for
their copious amounts of track changes, and pointed questions regarding the contents and ideas of
this thesis. Without both of your amazingly valuable input, this thesis would not have reached its
potential.
Thank you to Arjuna Dibley, President of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association for your
help with the AIYA members survey results. Keep up the good work!
To all of my friends and family who read, discussed and revised this thesis, thank you! I
particularly want to acknowledge Mas Luke Dawes for your consistent barrage of encouragement,
Andrew Bashfield, my Dad, for picking apart my grammar and providing a business perspective on
the study, Amelia (Millie) Walsh for letting out a big yawn to indicate the ‘dry’ bits of the thesis while
reviewing, and to Kate McMorrow for discussing with enthusiasm the topic of this thesis.
Thank you also to everyone who participated in this study. I hope I have accurately and
thoroughly represented your views and opinions.







Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 5



DECLARATION ......................................................................................................................................... 2
THESIS SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................................................................................................. 4
LIST OF FIGURES ...................................................................................................................................... 6
GLOSSARY............................................................................................................................................... 8
INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................... 10
CHAPTER ONE LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................ 18
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ..................................................................................................................... 18
Language Planning Theory ............................................................................................................ 18
PAST SURVEYS ....................................................................................................................................... 21
Graduate Careers Australia - Graduate Destination Survey .......................................................... 21
Australia Indonesia Youth Association - Member Surveys ............................................................. 22
ASIAN CENTURY DISCOURSE AND GOVERNMENT POLICY .............................................................................. 23
SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................................ 27
CHAPTER TWO: METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................ 29
SURVEY ................................................................................................................................................ 29
FOCUS GROUPS ..................................................................................................................................... 30
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS ....................................................................................................................... 31
RECRUITMENT AVENUES ......................................................................................................................... 32
LIMITATIONS ......................................................................................................................................... 34
CONCLUDING REMARKS .......................................................................................................................... 36
CHAPTER THREE: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION ............................................................................... 37
RESPONDENTS BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................. 37
INDONESIAN LANGUAGE IN THE WORKPLACE .............................................................................................. 39
INDONESIAN LANGUAGE GRADUATES AS A WHOLE ..................................................................................... 47
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS IN SURVEY ......................................................................................................... 50
FOCUS GROUP SESSIONS ......................................................................................................................... 53
IMPLICATIONS FOR LANGUAGE PLANNING THEORY ...................................................................................... 56
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................... 59
Recommendation One, Current and Prospective Indonesian Language Students ........................ 65
Recommendation Two, for Government and Business .................................................................. 65
Recommendation Three, Policy Makers and Academia ................................................................ 66
REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................................... 67
APPENDICES .......................................................................................................................................... 70


Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 6

LIST OF FIGURES
1. Survey participants’ employment status at time of the survey. Data synthesized from both
questions 11 and 12, page 40.
2. Qualification important to main paid job, bachelor graduates in full-time employment, by
broad field of education, 2011 (%). Data from GCA Report, page 42.
3. Question 13: Do you use Indonesian in your workplace? Includes only participants who are
working, and who graduated between 2002 and 2010, page 43.
4. Questions 6: Please rate your Indonesian language skills upon graduation. Results shown for
participants who are currently working only, page 44.
5. Question 7: Please rate your current Indonesian language skill. Results shown for
participants who are currently working only, page 44.
6. Question 16: Do you feel your cultural knowledge of Indonesia is useful in your career?
Results shown for participants who are currently working only, page 45.
7. Question 17: Do you feel your Indonesian language knowledge was a factor in your
recruitment? Results shown for respondents who are working only, page 46.
8. Question 20: How often do you currently speak Indonesian? Results shown for respondents
who are working only, page 46.
9. Question 21: How often do you consume Indonesian language media? Results shown for
respondents who are working only, page 47.
10. Question 19: Upon graduation, did you feel that careers which valued your Indonesian
language knowledge were readily available? All respondents included, page 48.
11. Question 25: Do you feel that your Indonesian language and cultural studies have been
important in your personal lives since graduation? All respondents included, page 48.
12. Question 26: In general, do you feel you have the proper opportunities to use your
Indonesian language and cultural knowledge in Australia? All respondents included, page 49.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 7

13. Question 27: Do you want to increase your engagement with Indonesian language and
culture? All respondents included, page 50.





















Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 8

GLOSSARY
 AIYA - Australia-Indonesia Youth Association.
 ASEAN - Association of South-East Asian Nations.
 DFAT - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
 GCA - Graduate Careers Australia.
 GPA - Grade Point Average
 MUHREC - Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee.
 NALSSP –National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Program.
 NALSAS - National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy.
 OS-HELP - Overseas Higher Education Loan Program.























Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 9

“I want our nation to be a winner as our region changes and I want every Australian to be a winner
too.”
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in her foreword in the Australia in the Asian Century,
White Paper.











Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 10

INTRODUCTION
A global power shift is occurring. Just as the world witnessed the United States attain
superpower status from the British Empire around the end of the 19
th
Century, it is argued that the
American Century is now drawing to a close (Kamener et al., 2012, p.1). Power is shifting this time
from West to East. The 21
st
Century, already dubbed the “Asian Century” by the Australian
Government, has been characterised by an enormous expansion economically, politically, culturally
and militarily, of many Asian states. This growth has been explosive, dramatically altering global
power structures.
Facts and figures exemplify the huge expansion Asia is undergoing. As a whole, Asia’s real
GDP by 2030 is expected to double to US$67 trillion, which is US$30 trillion higher than the US in
2030 (BCG, 2012). This rise in GDP is also compounded against a massive expansion of middle class
populations. It is expected that by 2020, more than half of the world’s middleclass will be living in
Asia (Kharas and Santiso, 2010).
This unprecedented growth of Asian nations has led to debates in Australia as to how our
country can best position itself to share in the mainly economic, but also political and cultural
benefits the Asian region can offer. Australia’s goals in relation to the Asian Century are five-fold
according to the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. The federal government’s policies
revolve around firstly, fostering a productive Australian economy, secondly, building Asia-relevant
capabilities, thirdly, operating in and connecting to growing Asian markets, fourthly, building
sustainable security in the region, and lastly creating deeper and broader relationships with Asian
nations (DPM&C, 2013). These goals are met with a wide variety of implementation strategies, from
launching high-tech satellites for the provision of internet access to rural locations in Australia, to
the introduction of competition and regulatory reform to make Australia an attractive place to
invest.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 11

In Australia, Asia Century policy is very wide in its scope, but this thesis will focus on point
two, simply entitled Building Capabilities. According to former Prime Minister Gillard “It [Australia in
the Asian Century White Paper+ calls on all of us to play our part in becoming a more Asia‐literate
and Asia‐capable nation,” which will create a nation of “winners” (DPM&C, 2012, p.iii). As per
Gillard’s quote, one key bipartisan aspect of the Building Capabilities objective is increasing literacy
in Asian languages in Australia. Essentially, the education system is required to educate Australians
to “raise our productivity and enable all Australians to participate successfully, helping Australia
seize the opportunities on offer in the Asian century (DPM&C, 2012, p.162).” Building Capabilities
includes a wide variety of skills, which according to the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper,
include Specialised Capabilities which include areas such as engineering and Asian expertise, Broad
Capabilities which includes foundation knowledge, and social foundations which includes knowledge
of democratic institutions, social systems and social value (DPM&C, 2012, p.163).

Narrowing the scope further, the first of the three mentioned capability categories is
Specialist Capabilities, and a key aspect of this policy is promoting literacy in Asian languages. As
outlined in the white paper, the school system and the tertiary sector are tasked with teaching
Australians key Asian languages. Knowledge of Asian languages is a central objective to increase
Asia-relevant capabilities, which in turn, strategically positions Australia to benefit from the Asian
Century. Increasing Asian Literacy, but more specifically Indonesian literacy, will form the context of
this thesis. The white paper has been preceded by decades of policies promoting the study of Asian
languages in Australia, which all aim to further Australia’s interests in the Asian region. As will be
discussed, this policy has received wide support from political parties, many academics and private
research institutions. Despite this plan for the future prosperity of Australia, there are currently few
recognisable measures of the success of such policies.

Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 12

The aim of this research project is to provide a measure of these policies, by uncovering the
professional experiences of Indonesian language graduates after the completion of their studies.
These graduates were the targets the above mentioned policies, and are now literate in Indonesian
language. Little is known about what these graduates do after their graduation, and this project aims
to provide an empirical study of a section of this cohort. I intend to allow the perspectives of these
graduates to be heard, and for them to reflect on their experiences in the workplace as they deploy
their advanced Indonesian language skills.
My hypothesis contends that few Indonesian language graduates apply their language skills
in the workforce. Accordingly, I will show that Indonesian language graduates are less likely to apply
their Indonesian language skills in the workplace compared to graduates of other disciplines.
Furthermore, I will contend that Indonesian language graduates find it difficult to translate their
studies into a career. Lastly, I will advocate for various policy changes, which I suggest will increase
the effectiveness of current policy directed toward Asian-literacy in Australia. I theorise that if the
opportunities are created to apply the Indonesian language in the Australian workforce, increased
rates of acquisition will rise in response. Current language planning policies (which will be explained
in Chapter One) are backward in application-: rather than training Australians in Indonesian language
in anticipation of the creation of career opportunities, these opportunities should be highlighted and
advertised, which will demonstrate to the public as a whole the value in learning Asian languages. In
that sense, this thesis also aims to contribute a part explanation for the decline of Indonesian
language studies in Australian schools and universities, linking this decline to difficulties in applying
such specialist skills in the Australian workforce.
This study is significant in the current global landscape. As will be articulated in Chapter One,
governments and private interests are witnessing the expansion of Indonesia, and assessing how
Australia can position itself to take advantage of this future global power. One such strategy is to
promote the study of the Indonesian language to students both in schools and universities, and in
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 13

some cases to employees. The implementation of this strategy has entailed millions of dollars being
spent on various projects to increase the numbers of Indonesian, Mandarin, Hindi and Japanese
literate Australians. The fact that these funds are being allocated and the existence of the associated
policy for Australians to learn Indonesian creates a unique vista for Indonesian language graduates.
One would assume that Indonesian language graduates are highly sought after in the job market,
and that their rare linguistic ability is in high demand, as government policy would suggest. This
paper essentially seeks to investigate this assertion and, through original research, discover whether
such graduates really are in relevant in an employment context in Australia in this Asian Century.
The scope of this study is limited to Indonesian language university graduates who
graduated in the last ten years. They must have studied at an Australian university to participate,
and must have completed a major in Indonesian language. While policy aimed at increasing
Indonesian literacy in Australia is not limited to potential or current university students, this study is
limited to university graduates, because studying the language for three years demonstrates a
commitment to the discipline, and allows for the assumption that research participants will have a
proficient knowledge of Indonesian language. Due to the space limitations of this thesis, I have not
included high school students in this project, but such a project could form the basis for further
research. Furthermore, this study is limited to only studying Indonesian literate Australians who
graduated between 2002 and 2012. This breadth of graduation years allows for analysis of those
who are more recent graduates as well as others who entered the job market earlier in the Asian
Century. I have set up these parameters to clearly define my research participants, and their
situation within the career market. As will be discussed in the following chapter, these graduates
may well have been subject to language planning policies, which could have influenced their decision
to start to study Indonesian.
My personal interest in this topic developed during my final year of my undergraduate
degree. I had studied Indonesian during high school and Indonesian language during my
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 14

undergraduate degree. Throughout my education, I was keenly aware of the various policies
regarding the study of Indonesian language, and was continuously told that the career prospects
were very bright for Indonesian literate graduates. I made lots of friends during this time, many of
whom were Indonesian language students, as well as during my time in Indonesia on exchange. The
last year of my study coincided with the release of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper
which reinstated the priority which the Commonwealth Government is placing on the study of Asian
Languages in Australia. My interest in this topic was solidified upon graduation when finding a career
which valued my Indonesian language skills was proving more difficult to achieve than anticipated.
This realisation was compounded by the fact that the vast majority of my fellow students upon
graduation are not using their Indonesian language skills in their chosen career. Despite their
intention to move into a workplace which requires Indonesian language skills, they could not realise
this goal. I was confused by the reality my friends and I experienced, while at the same time reading
reports from government bodies, which planned the dramatic expansion of Asian Language
programs. Their reasoning is that Indonesian language skills are in drastic short supply in the
workplace. Some influential figures, including the then Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science
and Research Senator the Hon Chris Evans, advocated for over 10,000 Australian students per year
to be sent to Asia to study for at least a semester (Minister's Website for Industry, 2012).
The problem I see, and the reason I dedicated a year to this project, is that there is a
disconnect between Indonesian literate graduates, and the careers which require their skills. I argue
that if the current cohort of Indonesian literate graduates are struggling to find work which values
their linguistic ability, then this fact should be widely known, and current Asia Century policy should
be revised. If current Indonesian language graduates cannot use their language in the workplace,
why should the Commonwealth and State governments allocate vast sums to educating more
Australians in Asian languages, which will only exacerbate this problem? I am both an Indonesian
language graduate, and the Chapter President of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association in
Victoria (AIYA), an organisation engaged in aiding Indonesian literate young Australians to find work
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 15

which utilises their Indonesian language ability. It is my experience that many AIYA members, who
themselves are Indonesian language graduates, are struggling to find work which requires their
Indonesian language skills, and this I find most disappointing. Hence, this thesis is my way of
establishing solid facts regarding the career paths of Indonesian language graduates, in the hope to
inform future Asia Century policy regarding the studies of Indonesian.
Hence, this study will probe the success of past policy, and aims to provide raw qualitative
and quantitative data to detail what these Indonesian language graduates are engaged in after their
studies. I intend to provide solid data which can be used to illuminate a proportion of Indonesian
literate Australians. These graduates have been voiceless in the debate surrounding the Asian
literacy in Australia, and their experiences should be a paramount concern in the continuation of
such policies.
It is important to note that finding employment which requires specific language skills is not
the sole reason for language study. I acknowledge that while this study revolves around the
employability of Indonesian language graduates, there are many other key facets of language
programs which are just as important as employability. Second language acquisition allows for better
global understanding, sharpened cognitive abilities, the ability to enjoy international literature,
music and film, the ability to travel more easily, the opportunity to make friends, and developing a
foundation in inter-cultural communication, in essence becoming a global citizen. Moreover,
bilingualism is associated with enhanced cognitive performance(Lo Bianco, 2009). All of these
benefits of second language acquisition can be just as vitally important to the language learner as
attaining a desirable career post-study, which values the additional language skills. As such, I am
keenly aware that not all Indonesian language graduates have the intention to work in an Indonesia-
related field and that if indeed they do not use Indonesian in their workplace, that this may be a
personal choice. After conducting the focus group sessions, I am not under the assumption that if an
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 16

Indonesian literate graduate cannot not use their skills in the workplace in the first ten years after
graduation, that their years of study has in any way been wasted.
This thesis is presented in three chapters. The first chapter provides a literature review, and
includes relevant academic theories, past surveys, and an analysis of Asian Century discourse. The
second chapter contains the methodology. This chapter explains in detail the survey and focus
groups, in addition to limitations associated with the research method. The final chapter provides
the results of the survey, and the findings of the focus group. This section includes various graphs,
and many quotations from the focus groups. The paper will finish with a concluding section, which
will include several recommendations, which will be useful for prospective/current students, policy
makers, academics and business leaders. All associated documentation will be included in the
appendices, followed by the reference list.
This study has used a wide variety of sources in order to draw conclusions. Aside from the
original research conducted, I have utilised a combination of journal articles, government reports,
academic books, web pages, private research institution reports, past survey reports, university
survey reports and newspaper articles. I have analysed as much literature associated with the
research question as possible, ranging from purely theoretical academic literature to survey reports.
I have used a variety of primary and secondary resources, and have made an attempt to bring all
perspectives to light on this issue. The first and only theory assessed is Language Planning, as the
literature review will demonstrate.
The literature review chapter located this study within existing academic discourse, and
demonstrated the originality of the project. This study samples a defined group of individuals, who
share a common second language. As of yet, a study with these parameters is yet to be conducted
within Australia, which makes the results difficult to compare. Much research is and has been
conducted in Australia which seeks to profile groups of graduates based on broad disciplines, but
this is the first study which is focusing solely on Indonesian language graduates. Research studying
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 17

graduates in general is conducted by Graduates Careers Australia, which surveys graduates as a
whole, and whose reports only filter their findings into broad categories. As will be elaborated on
the literature review, the only similar study found was conducted by the Australia-Indonesia Youth
Association who completed a non-academic survey of their membership. While the target audience
was similar, the survey content was different. As such, my project, which samples such a small group
of graduates, is original in its scope and cannot be directly compared to other similar literature.
This study provides an original set of findings that have not as yet been addressed in scholarly
literature.
The conclusion will provide recommendations for government and Australian businesses
which engage with Indonesia, as well as Indonesian language students. These recommendations
provide insight from the survey and focus groups, which will allow for more effective and efficient
policies in the coming years. It is widely understood that Australia needs to better engage with
Indonesia in this Asian Century, and this project identifies several problems which will need to be
overcome to fully engage with our northern neighbour.









Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 18

CHAPTER ONE LITERATURE REVIEW
The study of the vocational career paths of graduates is interdisciplinary in nature. The first
section of this literature review chapter will situate the study within the theoretical framework of
language planning theory. The second section of this chapter will locate this study within the existing
body of literature pertaining to graduate careers and specifically Indonesian literate Australians. The
third and final section discusses language planning policy pertaining to increasing acquisition of
Indonesian in Australia. This section will assess various arguments for and against such policy, and
describe the policies in place.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
LANGUAGE PLANNING THEORY
There is an extensive body of literature and academic debate on language planning theory.
The first instance of language planning in scholarly discourse was Miller’s term “Language
Engineering” in 1950 (Cooper, 1989, p.29). Language planning theory concerns the extent to which
language can be structured, acquired and used in accordance with a language plan. Several key buzz
words circulated throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1952, Hall predicted the development
“glottopolitics”, which was adapted in Noss’s “Language Development”(1967) and Gorman’s
“Language Regulation”(1973). “Language management” is another term used by prominent authors
such as Spolsky (2009, 2004) but which implies the same definition. Spolsky (2009, 2004) argues that
“language management” better articulated the concept because of direct efforts to manipulate
language and because the term “management” better reflects this nature. Despite continual debate
surrounding a common term, “language planning” is most commonly used, and will be featured
throughout this thesis.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 19

Language planning in the field of applied linguistics is subject to various and considerably
varied definitions. Cooper is an eminent scholar in the language planning field, and according to his
definition: “Language planning refers to deliberate efforts to influence the behaviour of others with
respect to the acquisition, structure, or functional allocation of their language codes (Cooper, 1989,
p.45).” Several key areas of language planning are subject to definitional discrepancies. Firstly, the
agency, or who is engaging in the planning language is keenly debated. Many notable academics
such as Baldauf and Kaplan (1997, p.3), Wright (2004, p.13) and Shohamy (2006,p.43) contend that
language can be planned by any organisation or authority, and is not exclusively the role of
governments. Conversely, Rubin and Jernudd (1971, p.xvi) and Davis(1994, p.xiii) argue that
language planning is the sole responsibility of state authorities, according to the theory. Scholars
have traditionally divided language planning discourse into three distinctive categories, as Cooper
(1989, pp. 31-34) describes. Firstly, corpus planning is used to understand spelling, scripts and the
creation of new vocabulary. Secondly, status planning refers to the importance placed on languages
relative to others. This could be represented by extra funding allocations, or other prioritisation
given. Lastly, and most relevant to this thesis is acquisition planning. Acquisition planning is used to
label language education as a mode of language planning, which directly increases the raw number
of users of a target language. Conversely, acquisition planning can also be used decrease the number
of users of other languages. Liddicoat (2013, p.2) indicates that language acquisition activities
“include the development of literacy, the acquisition of new languages and language maintenance
programs,” which “often overlaps with other areas of (language) planning.”
Education is the main tool used in acquisition language planning policies. Formal language
learning institutions are not always guided by government policy, but often are guided by internal
policy decisions (McKay, 1993, p.27). Spolsky (2009, p.90) sees educational facilities as the most
“powerful force” in the implementation of language planning policy, whether or not policy is
prescribed by a central authority. “Active contributors” described by Hornberger (1998, p.453) are
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 20

often teachers, educational program developers, and educational resource producers,
demonstrating that not only governments can be language planners.
Despite government rhetoric, simply solving communication problems is never the sole
reason for implementing language planning programs(Bokamba, 1995, p.20). Very often economic,
political, religious, security, and cultural reasons are crucial in the adoption of language planning
policies by governments. This planning of languages must always be seen within the context of
“serving the interests of the state… within a framework which emphasizes power and competing
interests (Tollefson, 1991, p.201).” Language planning, according to Cooper (1989, p.34) has always
had a distinctly political motive, and solving communication problems is not its sole use. Language
planning policy then becomes a tool of government power, which has the ability to promote the
interest of one group over another.
Furthermore, it is important to articulate the difference between language planning and
language policy. Hornberger (2006, p.25) contends that while the exact nature of the relationship
between language planning and language policy is unclear, the two concepts are “inextricably
related.” These two concepts are often combined in academic discourse, creating the acronym LPP
(Language Planning and Policy). I understand the subtle difference as being that language planning
represents direct actions to influence a language, while the general administration of languages falls
under the category of language policy.
Language planning theory is inextricably linked to the argument of this thesis in that the
Australian Government has made explicit attempts to advance the studies of Indonesian language
classes in Australia. Both the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy
(NALSAS) and the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Program (NALSSP)
between 1994 and 2012 directed over AU$270 million into Asian studies programs in secondary
schools (NALSAS, 2003, Department of Education, 2012). Further funding into the tertiary sector has
been evidenced through the Australian Commonwealth Government AsiaBound Grants Program,
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 21

and changes to the Overseas Higher Education Loan Program (OS-HELP) (Doyle, 2013, AEI, 2013). All
these programs and schemes aim to increase “Asian Literacy” in Australia, which will be discussed
later in this chapter. These examples all represent language planning policies in action, conforming
to the foundations of the language planning theory.

PAST SURVEYS
While past surveys included in this section are non-academic in nature, their value as
indicators of potential findings are useful. Two surveys have been identified as being similar in scope
and application to the study conducted for this thesis. The first is the Graduate Careers Australia
Graduate Destination Survey, and the second is the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association Members
Survey. A summary of these two surveys is found in this section of the literature review chapter
Graduate Careers Australia - Graduate Destination Survey
GRADUATE CAREERS AUSTRALIA - GRADUATE DESTINATION SURVEY
Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) is an influential organisation, which creates graduate-
related publications and is the primary organisation in the field of graduate employment. GCA
compiles various research reports based upon university derived data, and one such report is the
“Beyond Graduation Survey.” This survey is sent to graduates three years after the completion of
their degree, and is essentially a longitudinal study of higher education graduates in Australia(GCA,
2013a).
The “Beyond Graduation Survey” questions pertaining to whether or not a graduate’s
qualification is important to their main paid job are highly relevant to this study (GCA, 2011). These
questions are a self-assessment of participants’ careers, and in 2011 attracted 11,807 usable
responses Australia wide (Carroll, 2012). The results of this GCA survey cannot be directly compared
to the results of the survey contained within this thesis, because of the different question styles.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 22

While the GCA survey asks the extent to which graduates’ degrees relate to their career, this study
asks the extent to which participants’ Indonesian literacy relates to their career, regardless of
additional areas of study. Even if an Indonesian language graduate does not use Indonesian in their
workplace, their degree may still be relevant to their career. Hence, while the GCA “Beyond
Graduation Survey” is a useful instrument, the data cannot be directly compared with data found by
this study.
Regardless, the findings of the “Beyond Graduation Survey” are still very relevant to this
study, and will be drawn upon in the findings chapter. Importantly, this survey found that in the
“society and culture” category (in which most Indonesian language students would be located),
73.2% of respondents reported that their qualification is important to their main paid job in 2011.
The education category (which would also host Indonesian language graduates) was 93% in the
same year. These figures provide an excellent reference point to the general rates of employment
for Arts graduates, which can then be loosely compared to the relevant rates for Indonesian
language graduates.

AUSTRALIA INDONESIA YOUTH ASSOCIATION - MEMBER SURVEYS
Another important data source is the Australia Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA).
Established in 2011 it is a youth-led non-government organisation which aims to further the
Australia-Indonesia relationship, especially by forging connections between young Australians and
Indonesians. The association has chapters in all major Australian cities, and Jakarta. AIYA has
completed two member surveys for use in their Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) submission
papers, in both 2012 and 2013. I am the chapter president of the Victorian branch.
These two member surveys were sent to the association’s members, and covered many
aspects of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, and members’ perceptions on topical issues.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 23

Included in these papers were questions pertaining to careers and job prospects that are similar to
the survey contained within this thesis. There are, however, two key differences. Firstly, the AIYA
survey was limited to AIYA members only, who come from a variety of backgrounds. The members
need not be Indonesian language graduates, and no age restriction exists. Secondly, the AIYA data is
not being released for scholarly interpretation or debate. Publically available data is included in the
report alone, which has been analysed and complied solely by AIYA for the purposes of the DFAT
report. The AIYA survey aims to highlight youth perspectives in the Australia-Indonesia relationship.
The argument of this study will be strengthened by results from the AIYA Annual Members’ Survey
Results Report. It will especially assess various comments made by AIYA members in regards to
employment prospects for Indonesian language students (AIYA, 2013a).

ASIAN CENTURY DISCOURSE AND GOVERNMENT POLICY
An additional set of materials relevant to this thesis is found in government policy
documents on the Asian Century, as well as academic debates in universities and research
institutions. The perceived Asian Century has been a topic of academic discourse since the late
1960s. This area of study revolves around the fact that Asia is a growing region in many key
indicators. The aim of the debate is to articulate how Australia can position itself to take advantage
of this global power shift. Many notable academics and research institutions have weighed into the
debate, and this section of the literature review aims to provide an overview of some of the
perspectives related to Asian language study in Australia.
The first major road map for the future of Asian languages in Australia was the 1994 report
entitled Asian Languages and Australia’s Economic Future, commonly entitled the Rudd Report. This
paper was chaired by Kevin Rudd, and outlines the strategic importance placed on Japanese,
Mandarin, Korean and Indonesian for Australia’s economic future. The report finds an intrinsic
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 24

correlation between national linguistic skills and improved economic performance (Rudd, 1994, vi).
On the same page, the report emphasises that Australia requires these “language skills in order to
provide firms with an enhanced physical capacity to communicate with regional markets” and that
Australia also needs “’culture skills in order to communicate in a culturally sensitive and therefore
effective manner through the systematic study of Asian societies and their considerable political,
economic and cultural diversity.” These quotes clearly convey the message that Asian language skills
are needed in the workforce. The Rudd Report formed the foundation of the establishment of the
National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy in 1994. The implementation of
this policy cost over A$208 million, and was ceased by the Howard Government in 2002 (NALSAS,
2003). During this time, the program can be seen as relatively successful, as more than 600,000
Australian students were studying one of the four ‘priority’ languages (Mandarin, Japanese, Korean
and Indonesian), and the number of schools which taught Asian languages increased to 53.4%.
Furthermore, around 2,500 teachers were either trained or retained to teach these Asian languages,
which is a substantial increase from previous years (Henderson, 2008, p.187). Henderson believes
that these achievements were “considerable”, and worked to increase the acquisition rates of Asian
languages including Indonesian (Henderson, 2008, p.187).
The promotion of Asian language studies, including Indonesian, as a means to foster
Australia’s greater engagement in the Asian region has been the passion of many academics and
research institutions, both private and governmental. Prominent Indonesianist Professor David Hill’s
recent report Indonesian Language in Australian Universities: Strategies for a Stronger Future(2012,
p.1) is one such paper which states that “a healthy working relationship with our northern neighbour
*Indonesia+ is vital to both our present and future national interest.” Hill cites the fact (p.2) that if
current education trends continue, Indonesian will not be taught in Australian universities by 2022.
Among Hill’s many recommendations is that the Commonwealth Government “coordinate, advocate
for, promote, and stimulate Indonesian language teaching” both in the secondary and tertiary
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 25

education systems (p.4). Importantly, Hill’s paper was funded through the Australian Learning and
Teaching Council, under direction of the Australian Commonwealth Government.
Further private and publically funded research undertaken by Asialink, based at the
University of Melbourne, assesses this need for greater Asian literacy in Australian society. Asialink’s
2012 report: Developing an Asia Capable Workforce: A National Strategy, describes “Asia
Capabilities” as “a priority for Australia (Asialink, 2012a, p.1).” The taskforce responsible for this
report was made up of senior business leaders, chaired by the CEO of ANZ (Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group) Mike Smith, and highlights the lack of Australian business leaders with Asian
language skills or in country knowledge (pp. 10-13) and ways in which organisations can foster Asia
capabilities within their corporate structure (pp. 14-21). Asialink also published Our Place in the
Asian Century: Southeast Asia as “The Third Way,” report in 2012, which was written after
consultations with prominent academics, politicians and business figures both in Australia and
internationally. Crucially to this thesis, recommendation fourteen articulated that both language and
non-language teaching relating to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Countries must
undergo a “review and then *be+ revitalise*d+ (p.6).” These two reports leave no doubt that
increasing Asian Literacy is a priority for a large section of business and academic interests.
While many official documents detail Commonwealth Government policy and discourse on
Asian Literacy in Australia, it is most explicit and clear in the recent 2012 White Paper, Australia in
the Asian Century. In former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s foreword, she states that The White Paper
“calls on all of us to play our part in becoming a more Asia-literate and Asia-capable nation (p.iii).”
Chapter six, Building Capabilities, includes in section eleven the proposal that every student will have
access to at least one “priority language” (Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian) which they will
have access to continuously “throughout their years of schooling (p.16).” The same chapter also
explicitly states that the Commonwealth Government will “support universities to increase the
number of students who undertake Asian studies and Asian languages as part of their university
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 26

education (p.17).” The implementation of this white paper is still in its early stages as of July 2013,
but the intention to increase Asia-Literacy has been evidenced through the changes to OS-HELP,
which has increased the funding available to students studying in-country in Asia. Specifically,
Australian university students intending to study in Asia as part of their degree can access $7,500,
$1,250 more than students going to non-Asia destinations, and are also eligible to receive a
supplementary $1,000 for pre-departure language study (Assist, 2013). Furthermore, the
Commonwealth Government has organised a range of round table discussions between key
stakeholders to support the White Paper’s education objectives (DPM&C, 2013).
Of note, the election of the Coalition Government in September 2013, has brought a fresh
perspective on Asian Century policy. According to the Liberal Party’s August 2013 press release, the
new government intends to sponsor 300 undergraduate students per year to study in Asian
countries as part of their university studies (Liberal, 2013). This initiative, called the “New Colombo
Plan” will again foster the studies of Asian Languages, including Indonesian, in order to increase the
acquisition rates of such languages, and to increase cultural awareness of Asian societies. This is a
clear goal of the coalition, as the now foreign minister Julie Bishop stated earlier in 2013: “We want
it [studying at an Asian university] to be seen as a rite of passage for young Australians so that we
can build up a large body of people who have experienced living, working, studying in another
country in our region and learning the language, forging friendships, exchanging ideas and then
coming back to Australia with skills and perceptions and ideas that will boost our innovation and our
productivity (Bishop, 2013b).” While academic reaction to this policy is still forthcoming, the media
reaction has commented on the bi-partisan support for increased Asian language acquisition,
viewing this program as the continuation of Labour’s AsiaBound program, which shared a very
similar scope (Lane, 2013).
Not all sectors of society support bolstering Asian language programs and increasing the
overall number of students studying Asian languages. Benjamin Herscovitch is a policy analyst for the
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 27

influential Centre for Independent Studies, and is a well-known advocate of the belief that increasing
Asia literacy in Australia is unnecessary. Herscovitch’s 2012 report Australia’s Asia Literacy Non-
Problem represents the culmination of his research, and argues that calls to expand LOTE programs
are unnecessary for two reasons. Firstly, he contends English is a global lingua franca, which is
spoken by some two billion people globally (p.7). Secondly, Herscovitch argues that Australia has
“readymade” Asian language and cultural literacy, due to the fact that 2.2 million or 10% of
Australia’s population, in 2011 spoke an Asian language at home (p.9). These two arguments are
supported by a variety of academic material. Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data is often
cited to examine the usage of Asian languages in Australian society (Hughes, 2012). The point made
by Herscovitch is that Australia is home to a variety of native Asian language speakers, which makes
training Australians in Asian languages redundant.
Scholarly research also abounds which argues that English is an “Asian Language”, making
the study of other Asian languages less relevant. Karchu, for example, contends that English is
increasingly being used in formal and educational contexts in many Asian societies, meaning that
English should be classified as an Asian language (Kachru, 1998, p.93). Furthermore, many scholars
argue that the global dominance of the English language and its variants will continue to be
influential for many years into the 21
st
Century (Bruthiaux, 2002, p.135, Gaz, 2012, p.125). One final
perspective from Salter (2013) is that Asia-literacy discourse is really just Orientalism in disguise, and
another version of Australia’s Asia-anxiety. Salter questions the assumption that there is a need for
increased Asia literacy in Australia and advocates a review of the rationale behind investing in Asian
literacy (p.17).
SUMMARY
These three sets of literature in combination, demonstrate the need for a study of
Indonesian language graduates, and their careers and engagement with Indonesia post study. I
believe that this study is the missing link between previous research and public policy, which will
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 28

help to answer many crucial questions contained within previous literature. I feel there has been a
general neglect of the study of past language program graduates. It is my opinion that, before
conclusions are drawn regarding Asia century policy, and before vast sums of money are invested in
LOTE programs, these generally young, Indonesian literate Australians should be consulted, and their
opinions heard. This paper fills a gap in the academic literature, as it illustrates the perspectives and
experiences of recent Indonesia language graduates with the aim to inform future Asia Century
policy.












Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 29

CHAPTER TWO: METHODOLOGY
In order to research the vocational pathways of Indonesian language graduates, this study
utilised two methods of research: a survey and focus groups. This methodology section will outline
the details of the survey, focus groups, recruitment avenues, ethical considerations and the
limitations of the study. All relevant documents are included in the appendices.
Quantitative data gathering through the use of an online survey was decided upon due to
the geographic spread of intended research participants, whether within Australia, in Indonesia, or
throughout the world. This research methodology is popular due to its effectiveness in the field of
applied linguistics (Brown, 2004,p. 179). This study was intended to reach as many Indonesian
language graduates as possible, and due to their geographical spread throughout Australia and the
world, online surveying was the only effective option. This methodology was also chosen due to its
simplicity and ease of operation for the participants. Respondents could participate from anywhere
globally with an internet connection, and were not overly inconvenienced by their participation,
apart from their time. Moreover, modern online survey software, such as SurveyMonkey, provided a
solid and professional method of data collection, also including advanced data analysing tools built
into the software.
SURVEY
The survey consisted of 26 questions covering a variety of areas relating to the participants’
Indonesian language experiences. The background section asked questions pertaining to where the
participant completed their study, what year they completed their Indonesian major, whether or not
they completed credited classes in Indonesia, and a self-assessment of their language ability upon
graduation and currently, as well as the other languages spoken by the participant. The career
section included various questions regarding whether or not the participants’ workplace utilises their
knowledge of Indonesian language. The personal section asked participants about how they use
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 30

their Indonesian literacy in their non-professional lives. The participants were also encouraged to
provide additional comments through the survey.
The survey questions utilised a variety of response types. Questions six and seven, for
example, required a self-assessment of Indonesian language proficiency on a five point scale, from
“beginner” to “fluent.” Other open questions required participants to type their answer, e.g. “What
is your career?” Some questions required participants to note the number of occasions they used
Indonesian in certain aspects of their lives, with options ranging from every day to “once a year”.
The majority of the questions used a “yes” or “no” answer format, and one question using this
format included an “unsure” box. Not all questions had to be answered in order for the participant
to be able to complete the survey. These non-compulsory questions mainly pertained to potentially
traceable personal information such as a participant’s employment or university. All other questions
required an answer to complete the survey.
An “additional comments” section was added to the end of the survey, as a tool for
participants to clarify their responses, and provide their opinion regarding the study. This section
allowed participants to explain their answers to specific questions, and to expand on their feelings
and to describe their life as an Indonesian literate graduate.
Encouragingly, the survey attracted 139 participants, from a wide variety of universities and
a semi-equitable spread of graduation years between 2002 and 2012. Of the 139 responses, 133
completed the entire survey, translating to a response rate of 95.7%. Of the incomplete responses,
most discontinued the research during the background section, indicating that those participants
may have realised that they did not fit the study’s criteria. Participants were advised that the survey
would take no longer than fifteen minutes, but it is anticipated that most participants would have
needed only five minutes.
FOCUS GROUPS
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 31

To supplement the quantitative survey data, qualitative data was gathered through focus
group sessions. Five survey participants were interviewed, consisting of two groups of two and one
participant alone. The aim of these focus groups were to ask participants about the quality of the
survey, to allow the participants to expand on their answer, and to ask them specific questions
about Indonesian literacy in Australia. Each focus group took approximately 30 minutes. One session
took place in person at Monash University Clayton, and three participants were interviewed utilising
the Skype online communication software. While in person focus groups were preferred, many
participants were interstate and overseas at the time of the focus groups.
The focus groups covered various topics, allowing the participants to direct the
conversation. A copy of the ethics approved topic list is attached to the appendix. Participants were
initially asked about any problems intrinsically within the survey, followed by questions pertaining to
their career and engagement with the Indonesian language post-graduation. Participants were asked
about their interest and goals in relation to their Indonesian language skills, and their opinion on
Indonesian language policy in Australia. Participants were able to provide their general opinion on
the study of Indonesian in Australia, and were given considerable freedom to lead the conversation,
within the approved topics. The participants contributed enthusiastically, and were eager to provide
in depth personal input into the study.
Focus group participation was anonymous, and participants are not identified within this
thesis and associated publications. All focus group audio was recorded, and although transcripts are
not included in the appendix, useful comments are provided in the findings chapter.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
A ‘low risk’ human research ethics application was approved by the Monash University
Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC). This application approved the survey and focus group
data gathering methods, and the associated explanatory statements, consent forms, and survey
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 32

questions all of which have been included in the appendix of this thesis. This application allowed for
a maximum of 100 survey participants, and ten focus group participants. Due to the unexpected
popularity of the survey, I submitted an application amendment form, which allowed the maximum
survey participant number to increase to 1,000. I did not encounter any unexpected ethical issues in
the course of research, and do not feel that undue harm was inflicted on participants. The surveys
and focus groups were totally anonymous, and the raw data will be destroyed in one year. All ethics
related documentation is included in the appendix.
RECRUITMENT AVENUES
A variety of avenues were used to recruit research participants. Due to the relatively small
number of Indonesian language graduates, and the wide variety of careers or study options
Indonesian literate graduates pursue, systematic targeting of participants for recruitment was
difficult. Five recruitment avenues were chosen, and formed the basis for advertising the survey. The
SurveyMonkey software allows various uniform resource locators (URL) to be created for the one
survey. Utilising this feature, each recruitment avenue used a unique URL, so that the researchers
could track the origin of each response.
Firstly, the most successful of all recruitment avenues was using the Australian Consortium
for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) various Facebook alumni networks and mailing lists.
ACICIS, based at Murdoch University, is the principal provider for university-credited study abroad
trips to Indonesia, and has a large alumni network of people who have studied Indonesian in
Australian universities. David Hill at ACICIS kindly emailed the details of the study to his entire
mailing list, and the details were also posted to ACICIS’s alumni network Keluarga ACICIS (ACICIS
family) Facebook page. This recruitment avenue generated 78 responses.
In addition to the ACICIS network, the survey was advertised on various Facebook pages
utilised by Indonesian language graduates. The Australia-Indonesia Youth Association and affiliated
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 33

Australia Indonesia Young Professionals also were obliging, and helped to advertise the survey using
their Facebook networks. These networks yielded 23 responses. Other online networks were also
used to promote the study, including the Indonesia Research Network, and La Trobe Bahasa
Indonesia Student Association (BISA). These networks provided some 20 additional responses.
The survey was also advertised to personal contacts who were known Indonesian language
graduates. They were then asked to forward the details of the study to their classmates and friends
who they studied with, or who are known to have majored in Indonesian. It is important to note that
the approved survey advertising only was used to recruit personal contacts, and that their
participation was wholly voluntary. These contacts added eighteen responses to the pool of data.
Finally, the Monash’s Indonesian Programs small alumni mailing list was also used to recruit
participants. Although, several other universities were contacted in regards to emailing their alumni
with the survey details, no surveys were completed using these alumni mailing lists.
Despite the use of different URLs to allow the researchers to distinguish between how
survey participants were recruited, these URLs were often mixed. For instance, after completing the
survey, participants would send the link to their friends, which confused the origins of the survey
responses. Ensuring that the ethics approved survey advertising was used also proved problematic.
For example, I posted the survey on the AIYA National Facebook page. Without consulting me, the
Australia Indonesia Young Professionals ‘reposted’ the link without using the approved ethics
advertising. Due to the instantaneous nature of the internet and online social media, this was often
beyond the control of the researchers and I could only email the administrators asking them to use
the approved advertising.
The final section of the survey included a question for participants to provide their email
address if they were willing to participate in focus groups sessions. Email addresses were collected
through this avenue, and the participants were subsequently emailed regarding the focus group
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 34

session details. 60 email addresses were collected, resulting in five graduates participating in the
various sessions.
LIMITATIONS
This study and its methodology are subject to various intrinsic limitations. While these
limitations do not invalidate the results, they should be considered when assessing the findings.
Firstly, the nature of surveys and questionnaires, as compared to other data gathering
techniques such as interviews, is problematic due to their tendency to be subject to low return rates,
and their rigid, artificial and impersonal characteristics (Brown, 2001, p.75). When surveys are
conducted online, these problems magnify, including the inability to follow up on participants’
answers, and missing data (Cantrell and Lupinacci, 2007, p. 548). Such problems include a lack of
control over the test conditions, decreased response rates and problems also arise if the survey is
competing for the participants attention (Ahern, 2005, pp.62-63). While online survey
methodologies are subject to general limitations, this study also has specific issues.
Firstly, due to the anonymity clause of the study, the participants cannot be verified as to
whether they are actually Indonesian language graduates. Essentially, anyone who had access to the
URL could participate in the study, which is particularly concerning in the instances that the
approved advertising, outlining criteria for participation, was not accompanying the URL. The use of
social networks for recruitment means that the survey link was most probably seen by thousands of
people. Since the target participant group is so small, all efforts were made not to recruit too
broadly. While 139 participants is a considerable amount of respondents considering Indonesian
enrolment numbers at universities, it is much smaller than other existing data pertaining to
graduates and their career paths, which generally have thousands of respondents.
Secondly, the recruitment process creates bias in the results. The extensive use of ACICIS
networks and AIYA networks arguable recruits graduates who are still active within Indonesian
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 35

studies/professional communities. Almost all respondents who used the ACICIS URL have spent at
least a semester studying in Indonesia, setting them apart from the ‘average’ Indonesian language
graduate who might not necessarily have studied overseas. This in-country experience is unique and
rare among graduates, meaning their interest and enthusiasm in Indonesia could be said to be
higher than graduates who have not spent time in Indonesia. Also, AIYA networks are primarily used
by students and graduates who want to further their engagement with Indonesia and Indonesia
related issues. As such, targeting Indonesian language graduates who have disassociated themselves
with the discipline/community is difficult, and means that the results will be bias toward more
‘engaged’ graduates. Furthermore, these students may have completed a double degree, also
majoring in a discipline outside language studies. The participants’ motivations for studying
Indonesian are beyond the scope of this study. Due to the fact that these graduates committed
three years to the study of Indonesian, and how they were recruited, it can be argued that these
graduates intend for their studies to be useful in their lives, rather than a graduate who for instance
took Indonesian to finish a science degree and never intended for it to lead anywhere.
Thirdly, several problems were identified within the survey itself. The survey was designed
for graduates who are currently working, not students, as their career paths were to be assessed.
Respondents who were undertaking post-graduate study at the time of the survey were asked to
consider their full time studies as their career, but the questions often did not translate into
answerable questions about their studies. Such as: Was your Indonesian Language knowledge a
factor in your recruitment? This question is near impossible for a student to answer. Despite this
problem, higher degree students are not the primary concern of the study. In addition to the
problems students faced, the distinction between questions three and four was not clear. More
information as to the definitions of ‘in-country’ and ‘intensive in-country’ were needed.
Furthermore, question 22 contained two errors, making the results unusable. Due to this error,
question 22 was skipped by 19 respondents.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 36

The focus groups sessions ran smoothly, and elicited useful data. The online session was
subject to infrequent internet connection problems, which made the respondents hard to
comprehend at various points. Some potential focus group participants were unable to establish a
connection, and were then unable to participate further.
CONCLUDING REMARKS
The implemented methodology was successful and elicited useful data. Despite various
shortcomings, the survey, complemented by the focus groups were thorough, and provided
participants the opportunity to provide their perspective on the issues being studied. The
considerable uptake of the study, 139 participants, indicates that Indonesian language graduates
want their opinions and experiences to be heard. This study also contrasts with the previous surveys
in terms of its academic underpinnings.









Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 37

CHAPTER THREE: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
As previously established, this thesis assesses Australian language planning policies, and
discourse on the Asian century, from the perspective and experiences of the Indonesian literate
graduates. Despite the fact that they are the prime target in these policies, their views have rarely
been heard. Their experiences should inform any changes in policy in the future.
RESPONDENTS BACKGROUND
The first section of the survey included various background questions, which were then used
to filter responses in the more complex analysis. This section of the survey was also useful in terms
of qualifying participants for the survey. Specifically, should someone who did not qualify mistakenly
click the link to the survey on a social media site, the first few questions such as “What year did you
complete you Indonesian language major?” would allow them to realise they did not meet the
criteria, and discontinue the survey.
To recapitulate, a total of 139 responses were started, and 133 were completed. The survey
was completed by graduates from sixteen Australian universities, with the largest number of
participants from Monash University (21 participants), The University of Sydney (14 participants),
University of Western Australia (11 participants) and the Australian National University (11
participants). Smaller numbers of graduates were recruited from, the University of Tasmania (3
participants), the University of Adelaide (2 participants) and the University of the Sunshine Coast (2
participants). The only state/territory not represented is the Northern Territory. Several participants
completed their studies at universities which did not offer Indonesian language classes, so they were
allocated to the university which they completed their Indonesian study. This spread of university
representation is a positive sign for this research project as it allows the results to be generalised at
the national level. Given the relatively low numbers of Indonesian language graduates in Australia,
the data sample size is considerable.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 38

The second background question, which asks participants which year they graduated from
their Indonesian studies degree corresponded well to the targeted research group. At the outset of
this study, I had been concerned that recent graduates would be heavily overrepresented, and that
recruiting Indonesian language graduates from between 2002 and 2009 would be difficult. This
proved not to be the case, and although the study was more popular among more recent graduates,
52.8% of respondents graduated between 2002 and 2009. Some 25.4% of research respondents
graduated in 2012, followed by 12.3% and 9.4% in 2011 and 2010 respectively.
1
The results benefit
from a broad range of graduation years, which further validates the findings.
The proceeding questions asked participants whether they had participated in ‘in-country’ or
intensive ‘in-country’ study. 81.2% stated they had completed ‘in-country’ language studies, and a
further 65.1% stated they had participated in an intensive ‘in-country’ study program. These results
cannot be generalised for several reasons. Firstly, due to the high number (78 participants) of
responses from the ACICIS mailing list, this number might be unrepresentative of Indonesian studies
graduates generally. One can assume that the vast majority of ACICIS mailing list members will be
ACICIS alumni, who have completed ‘in-country’ study. Furthermore, the difference between ‘in-
country’ and ‘intensive in-country’ programs was not articulated clearly in the survey, and this could
have led to confusion. Regardless, I can state that around 81.2% of survey respondents have spent
time ‘in-country’ which contributed to their degree.
The final background questions allow a deeper understand of who participated in this study.
50% of participants began their tertiary Indonesian studies while already at an intermediate level,
equivalent to year 12 language study, 37.7% began from scratch, and the 2.2% at a proficient level.
Participants were subsequently asked to rate their Indonesian language skills on a sliding scale from
‘beginner’ to ‘fluent’ in terms of their speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. The most
popular choice across all four disciplines, with an average of 45.8% was in-between ‘intermediate’

1
These figures do not add up to 100% due to the fact that not every respondent completed the
question.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 39

and ‘fluent.’ The next question asked participants to rate their current Indonesian language skills,
and the most popular choice again was in between ‘intermediate’ and ‘fluent,’ but at a much smaller
margin, only 33.5%. Instead, the ‘fluent’ choice rose from 21.53% to 28.25%, but the choice between
‘beginner’ and ‘intermediate’ rose from 5.13% to 10.58%. Overall, Indonesian language proficiency
marginally dropped among the entire group from the moment of their graduation, to when they
participated in the survey. This statistic is striking as it indicates that these graduates are unlikely to
be using their Indonesian language skills regularly, leading to a drop in proficiency. The final question
of this survey section asked participants about their facility in a third language. According to Griffith
University, bilinguals form only 19% of the Australian population, and reliable data is not yet
available to measure rates of trilingualism (Griffith, 2013). This study found that 41.01% of
Indonesian language graduates surveyed speak at least a third language. The most popular
additional languages were Spanish (13 respondents), French (12 respondents) and German (10
respondents). Indonesian dialects spoken were Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese.
These background questions are useful firstly to understand more about the survey
participants. A variety of factors can affect how language studies influence one’s life post study, such
as ‘in-country’ study, and facility in other languages. Secondly, the responses to these questions will
be used to filter the data, which will allow a closer look at the relevant statistics.

INDONESIAN LANGUAGE IN THE WORKPLACE
After an analysis of the survey participants’ educational backgrounds, the survey turned to
study the respondents’ current occupation. In a similar style to the Australian census, this study
sought to identify the participants’ career at the time of the study, whether it was full-time working,
volunteering or continuing academic study. Participants who were continuing their studies were
easily filtered out for the results which pertain to Indonesian language usage in the workplace.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 40






Responses from questions 11 and 12 (figure 1) found that 57.9% of the graduates surveyed
are currently working full time. It also uncovered that many graduates have moved onto post-
graduate study, which represents a further 30.8%. The survey also encountered several graduates
who are both working professionally and studying part time, volunteering, unemployed, and several
could not be determined from their response. Of the participants who are working, the primary
Working
Studying
Volunteering
Working professionally and
studying
Unemployed
Undeterminable
Employment Status
Figure 1. Survey participants’
employment status at time of the
survey. Data synthesized from both
questions 11 and 12.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 41

occupations were teaching, public service, with several other occupations represented including,
engineering, interpreting, reporting, lawyers, academia, consulting, and even one locomotive
operator.
Limited data is available regarding graduate careers post study, and the most reliable source
is Graduate Careers Australia (GCA). Their recent 2013 Where Grads Go report uncovers some
curious statistics regarding the participants of this study. According to the GCA report, 39.7% of
“language and literature” students (this broad group of students includes disciplines such as
sociology, languages, anthropology, linguistics) who graduated from a bachelors degree in 2012
continued onto to further study in 2013 (GCA, 2013b). Upon filtering the data, to include only
participants who graduated in 2012, it is shown that 60.6% (30 respondents) are currently
undertaking further study as of April/May 2013. This figure of 60.6% for Indonesian language
graduates is considerably higher than any discipline as outlined in the GCA report, of which the
highest is Biology graduates at 50.1%. So why are so many graduates, who have already committed
three years to studying Indonesian deciding to further their studies rather than join the workforce?
As understood in Chapter One, Australian language planning policy for Asian languages extends from
primary schools to the tertiary level, meaning that the participants of this study are at the top
academic echelon of this spectrum. Additionally, the presence of four unemployed graduates who
possess “priority” language skills means that the study found a 3% unemployment rate, well below
the national unemployment average at 5.7% for August 2013 (Statistics, 2013). These statistics
pertaining to employment status is the first of many indicators which demonstrate that Indonesian
language graduates often encounter difficulties finding employment which requires their language
abilities (yet they do not seem to encounter difficulty finding employment).
The analysis of Indonesian language usage post study by these graduates is most apparent
when considering Indonesian language use in the workplace. To analyse this aspect of the data, the
responses from respondents currently in the workforce was isolated, which leaves a total of 77
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 42

completed surveys. After analysis of these responses alone, certain useful points can be made. The
survey data finds that participants who know more languages are more employable, and it was
found that from the graduates who are currently working, 48.05% of them have facility in at least a
third language. This is just over 7% higher than the multi-lingual rate for the respondent group as a
whole, meaning that respondents who spoke three or more languages had a higher employment
rate.
The most crucial aspect to this survey and to the contention of this thesis is an analysis of the rate of
respondents who use Indonesian language in their workplace. GCA, in collaboration with universities
Australia-wide release a report entitled Beyond Graduation 2011: The Report of the Beyond
Graduation Survey in 2012, based on the 2011 figures (Carroll, 2012). This report has been published
in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but has not been continued since. While the GCA study, and my survey
have slightly differing scopes, the results can definitely be broadly compared and studied. Figure two
graphs the data from both the 2008 and 2011 surveys, pertaining to the question which asks
whether the respondents’ qualification is important to their main paid job. The GCA results cannot
be directly compared to my survey because this thesis survey asks about Indonesian specifically,
which may only be one discipline studied at university. Note that this data only applies to
respondents who were in full time employment as of 2011. Indonesian language studies falls into
Figure 2: Qualification important to
main paid job, bachelor graduates in
full-time employment, by broad
field of education, GCA Report, 2011
(%).
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 43

the bracket of ‘Society and Culture,’ which can then be used as a comparison with Indonesian
language students. So how do Indonesian language graduates compare with the GCA data?

Question 13 is the simplest question in the survey, and reads: Do you use Indonesian in your
workplace? This question is most relatable to the graduate Careers Australia question: Is your
qualification important to your main paid job? This data in figure three has filtered out respondents
who graduated in 2012 and 2011 in order to track their careers from a longitudinal perspective. I
have not been able to find any such type of study devoted only to language students, which makes
analysis of the results difficult.
Nevertheless, taking an average of the 2011 results from the GCA Beyond Graduation
survey, we find that 76.62% of graduates are employed in a job which relates to their field of study.
The “Society and Culture” rate is lower at 73.2%, and as figure three illustrates, only 54.1% of
Indonesian language graduates who are working and graduated between 2002 and 2011 use
Indonesian in their workplace. While difficult to compare, this figure is well below the GCA rate for
‘Society and Culture’ students, which demonstrates the difficulties that Indonesian language
graduates experience in finding work which requires their Indonesian language skills.
Figure 3: Question 13: Do you use
Indonesian in your workplace. Includes
only participants who are working, and
who graduated between 2002 and
2010.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 44

Upon closer consideration of those survey respondents who are currently working, which is
77 out of the 139 respondents, other useful data is available. It is found in figure four and five that
language proficiency has dropped in all but one category from the time respondents graduated to
when they participated in this survey. The only category in which proficiency improved is listening,
but speaking, reading and writing all suffered a decline overall. The data provided is an average of
the sliding scale (1 meaning beginner and 5 meaning fluent). This overall decline is significant and
can be attributed to the fact that not many of these graduates are able to find work which requires
their Indonesian language proficiency, and as a result, Indonesian language skills have dropped. The
fact that listening skills have improved could possibly be the result of the ease of access of
Indonesian language television and movies in Australia. Nevertheless, an overall drop in Indonesian
language competency matters, as it indicates that even in this Asian Century, the graduates surveyed
have not been able to maintain their Indonesian language fluency post-graduation.
Moreover, the proportion of working Indonesian language graduates who feel their
workplace engages with Indonesia and Indonesian related issues was not high. Only 48% of
respondents who are currently working felt that their workplace engages with Indonesia and
Figure 4: Questions 6, Please rate your Indonesian
language skills upon graduation, Results shown for
participants who are currently working only.
Figure 5: Question 7, Please rate your current
Indonesian Language Skills, Results shown for
participants who are currently working only.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 45

Figure 6: Question 16, Do you feel
your cultural knowledge of
Indonesia is useful in your career?
Results shown for participants who
are currently working only.
Indonesian related issues. As yet, it is unknown how this figure relates to other language graduates.
Furthermore, 44% of these respondents had travelled to Indonesia for work related purposes. This
figure of 44% is high, and could be explained by the fact that participants may have previously
worked a job which required travel to Indonesia.
The data gleaned by Question 16 (figure 6) demonstrates that many Indonesian language graduates
feel that their cultural knowledge of Indonesia is useful in their career. The results for this question
are a departure from the previously presented data. I find this result of 74% of respondents (as per
figure 6) who believe their cultural knowledge of Indonesia is useful at work to be very high when
compared to other results for respondents who are working. It is indicated by these results that
while one might not use the Indonesian language at work, the knowledge gained through such
language and culture studies can be useful in the workplace.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 46

Figure 7: Question 17, Do you feel your
Indonesian language knowledge was a
factor in your recruitment? Results
shown for respondents who are working
only.
Figure 7 illustrates whether or not the Indonesian language graduates surveyed believe that their
second language competency was a factor in their recruitment. This result of 53% I understand is
low, as I had previously heard anecdotal evidence which suggested that the study of Indonesian is an
attractive skill to demonstrate, even if the occupation does not require it for daily operations.
Despite this, 53% is in line with the rates of ‘working’ respondents who use Indonesian in their
workplace (Figure 3). Importantly, many participants would not know for sure whether their
Indonesian language competency was a factor in their recruitment, and further study could assess
the attractiveness of Indonesian language competency in the recruitment process.
The final ‘working specific’ data which will be presented pertains to
Figure 8: Question 20: How often do
you currently speak Indonesian?
Results shown for respondents who
are working only.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 47





Indonesian language usage, by those
who are currently employed. Both figures 8 and 9 demonstrate the respondent’s language usage, in
two specific domains. The data in figure 8 shows that while only around 50% of respondents use
Indonesian language at work, almost 65% speak Indonesian at least weekly, indicates that they rely
on their Indonesian language skills in other domains. This data allows us to conclude that even if
Indonesian is not used in the workplace it is often influential in respondent’s personal lives.
Furthermore, this data reveals that just over 84% of respondents use their Indonesian at least
monthly, demonstrating that respondents are keen to retain their language skills, even if it is not
needed in their current career. Figure 9 furthers this idea, and illustrates that Indonesian language
media, whether it is print, TV, radio or online is a popular way to use, advance or retain Indonesian
language skills. This data exposes the willingness and enthusiasm of Indonesian language graduates
to maintain their Indonesian literacy through the use of Indonesian media. Further study could
determine whether this phenomenon is exclusive for Indonesian language graduates, or whether it
is widely evident amongst all language graduates.
It must be mentioned again that it is difficult to directly compare this data to existing data
pertaining to other disciplines. I am yet to find a comparable survey, which makes data analysis
troublesome, yet allows intelligent speculation on what might be happening. Nevertheless, when
this data is being compared to discourse and policy surrounding this Asian Century, policy makers
should be concerned, as Indonesian usage rates are low, especially in the workplace.
INDONESIAN LANGUAGE GRADUATES AS A WHOLE
Figure 9: Question 21: How often do
you consume Indonesian language
media? Results shown for
respondents who are working only.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 48

This section of the thesis will assess the final questions of the survey, using the entire group
of respondents, whether they are furthering their studies, or working professionally. These
questions pertain to their level of immersion in Indonesian related activities and experiences since
graduation.
The results from Question 19 as contained in Figure 10 allowed the respondents to judge
their experience regarding careers post study in the Indonesian field. As figure 10 makes evident, a
majority of Indonesian language graduates did not feel that careers which valued their Indonesian
language knowledge were readily available upon graduation. This result is based on over 130 survey
responses from graduates Australia-wide. As data concerning other language graduates and the
extent to which they believed that careers which valued their language ability were available upon
graduation is not available, drawing concrete conclusions is difficult. Despite that, I conclude that
this is a troubling sign for the health of Indonesian language programs, and troubling also for
Figure 11: Question 25, Do you feel
that your Indonesian language and
cultural studies have been important
in your personal lives since
graduation? All respondents
included.
Figure 10: Question 19, Upon
graduation, did you feel that careers
which valued your Indonesian
language knowledge were readily
available? All respondents
included.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 49

government bodies attempting to implement language planning policies which aim to increase the
acquisition rates of Indonesian. It is my belief that the high rate of ‘unsure’ responses is due to many
students moving directly from undergraduate study to post-graduate study. As such, many of these
graduates would not have actively searched for employment, and hence would tick ‘unsure.’
Regardless, the fact that over 55% chose the ‘no’ option is in stark contrast to Commonwealth
Government discourse explicitly expressing the dire need for Asian language graduates in the
Australian workforce, as analysed in Chapter One.
The final three questions of this survey asked participants very general questions regarding
being an Indonesian language graduate in Australia. Figure 11 illustrates the enormous impact
studying Indonesian language has had on the vast majority of research participants. I conclude that
the overwhelming response to this question demonstrates the commitment these respondents have
dedicated to the Indonesian language, and their passion for the discipline.

Figure 12 shows the results for question 26, which asks whether the respondents feel they have the
proper opportunities to utilise their Indonesian language skills in Australia. This is a very broad and
general question, and I believe the results should also be interpreted in that sense. Never-the-less,
the data demonstrates that almost 67% of respondents do not feel that they have the proper
Figure 12: Question 26, In general,
do you feel you have the proper
opportunities to use your Indonesian
language and cultural knowledge in
Australia? All respondents included.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 50

opportunities to use their language and cultural knowledge in Australia. Again, this result is in stark
contrast to government policy and discourse towards the study of the Indonesian language.

The final survey result which will be presented pertains to Question 27, and is represented in Figure
13. Again, this question is very general by nature, and was included in order to gauge the sentiment
of the graduates, and to poll their thoughts surrounding Indonesian literacy in Australia. The data
clearly demonstrates the desires for Indonesian language graduates to increase their engagement
with their language of study. This result illustrates the enthusiasm of Indonesian language graduates
to immerse themselves in the Indonesian language. I understand that this is a key result in this
survey, and demonstrates the passion Indonesian language students feel for their discipline of
choice. The question then leads to how this passion can be harnessed and used positively.
Regardless of any career aspects of respective graduate experiences, there is a sense of positivity
surrounding the study and continued engagement with the Indonesian field.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS IN SURVEY
The final section of this survey invited participants to make any comments regarding this
area of inquiry. Twelve comments in total were received, several pertaining to the career prospects
of Indonesian language graduates.
Figure 13: Question 27, Do you want
to increase your engagement with
Indonesian language and culture?
All respondents included.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 51

Positivity was conveyed through these comments. For example, one respondent noted that:
Whilst I have not pursued a career that currently utilises my Indonesian skills, I feel that the
process of learning another language and culture makes me a better and more tolerant manager of
people from other cultures/backgrounds, especially Asian backgrounds, which is very pertinent in
banking/finance. Further, the fact that I studied Indonesian always comes up in job interviews as it is
on my resume, and I have always felt it was a positive factor in recruitment. Finally, whilst I am not
currently posted overseas, in the future, there is certainly potential for me to work for my employer
(or similar other Australian banks) in Indonesia, and I think I would be well placed to gain such a role
if I desire it, due to my language experience.
This comment is furthered by another respondent who mentioned that:
I have been working in Indonesia for the last year and I am very lucky to have this
opportunity, increased links between Indonesia and Australia benefits both countries.
These two examples are the most positive of the twelve, and show that Indonesian language
skills are sought after in the workplace. Further positivity was gleaned through one respondent who
noted that:
While I am in a job that values my Indonesian language skills (and understanding of the
country), and there are other government jobs like this, the opportunities in the private sector aren't
so obvious.
There are undoubtedly examples of Indonesian language graduates who are satisfied by
their careers post-graduation, and the above are several examples of such individuals. Interestingly,
the first comment makes mention that their Indonesian language knowledge was a highly regarded
during the application process, despite Indonesian language not being a prerequisite for the specific
career. Crucial to this study, the respondent makes clear that language and culture study not only
teaches language skills, but also inter-cultural tolerance skills, which are sought after in many
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 52

workplaces. This comment is a reminder that securing a job which utilises specific language skills is
not the sole reason for language studies, and that many other attributes gained through such studies
(such as cultural tolerance) are just as vital.
Contrary to this positivity, this comments section of the survey encountered respondents
who are not at all pleased by their career experience post-graduation, and their comments are
sharply negative. One respondent commented that:
I graduated with a high GPA [Grade Point Average
2
], near fluent in Indonesian and have been
unemployed for 8 months after graduating. It seems extremely difficult to find ANY decent work in
Queensland at the moment and near impossible to find work relevant to an Indonesian major.
The negativity continued through another respondent who noted that:
I currently feel fully engaged with my Indonesian studies because I have chosen to pursue an
academic career in Indonesian studies; however, my choice of this career path was strongly
influenced by the fact that there did not seem to be any other viable career paths that would value
my Indonesian studies skills or allow me to continue developing them.
One final respondent provided the most striking criticism of the survey. They contest that:
Without seeming too cynical, I find the entire "Asian Century" hype incredibly misleading
and, to be quite frank, a heaped pile of government spin. Even government organisations still fail to
appreciate people with proper Indonesian language competency and in-country experience. If they
truly appreciated it, I wouldn't be teaching Indonesian, but rather using my language skills in a far
more important setting.
Importantly, this study does not seek to undermine the teaching of Indonesian as a
meaningful career path for language graduates. Despite that, the last respondent feels that their

2
Indicator of academic achievement.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 53

skills would be more useful outside the classroom, and strikingly criticizes the Asian Century policy as
outlined in the 2012 Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. I believe that these final three
comments demonstrate a discontent with their experiences in the labour market since graduation.
They feel disillusioned by the reality of their career prospects, as they see it. The teaching of Asian
languages in Australia is fore-shadowed by a discourse of necessity, and this qualitative data
illustrates the disillusionment when such career expectations are not met. This negativity matters
because it undermines Asia Century policy, and indicates that Indonesian literacy in Australia is not a
skill required in the workforce.
An example of negativity regarding the employment outcomes of Indonesian literate
Australians is also found within the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association Members’ Survey. One
AIYA member noted wrote: I believe there needs to be more emphasis placed on developing the
Australia-Indonesia relationship in ways other than education. Although there are obviously benefits
for Indonesians coming to study in Australia- there are near to no benefits of Australians learning the
Indonesian language if there is no way to use it for a career outside of education(AIYA, 2013a, p.15).
This comment in the AIYA report indicates that the issue of applying Indonesian language skills into
the workforce is not unique to this thesis.
These statements allowed the research participants a voice to mention any issues they
desired. However, these statements are limited in their context, meaning the background story to
the exhibited positivity or negativity is unknown. It is unknown the extent to which these
respondents tried to find work which requires their Indonesian language ability, and how long they
searched. The statement, “there did not seem to be any other viable career paths” would suggest
that this respond may not have fully explored the opportunities available. The final part of this
chapter details focus group sessions, and seeks to provide profiles of these graduates, in the aim to
better understand the experiences of graduates after their studies.
FOCUS GROUP SESSIONS
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 54

A total of five people participated in the focus group sessions. The total number was capped
at ten participants, but due to problems inherent with online communication tools such as Skype,
only five were able to take part. One graduate only finished their studies the previous year, and has
continued to study, and the other participants graduated several years ago, meaning they could
make a valuable contribution to the study. The participants were of varying careers/employment
statuses, including a current honours student, one Indonesian language teacher, one environmental
scientist currently volunteering in Indonesia, one manager at a multi-national firm, and one
participant who has experience working in Indonesia and is currently completing a Diploma of
Education in order to teach Indonesian.
One theme which was crucial during the focus group sessions was the acknowledgement
that Australian governments, both at the Commonwealth and State level are actively trying to
increase the acquisition rates of Indonesian in Australian youth. As reflected in the literature review
of Australian language planning policy, one participant commented that the “government is really
trying to push the study of Asian languages.” While not all participants were knowledgeable on the
specifics on current and past language planning policies, it was acknowledged that such policies
exist. Another reoccurring theme which surfaced was the belief that Australian employers did not
value Indonesian language skills, dismissing such skills as impractical. One participant told the group
their experience that employers found Indonesian language skills “cool,” but simply not practical.
The focus group also uncovered thoughts pertaining to the usefulness of Indonesian within
Indonesia. Several participants had worked in Indonesian since graduation, and they mentioned the
widespread usage of English in Indonesian workplaces. One participant worked for a prominent
English language newspaper in Jakarta for two and a half years, and stated that their Indonesian
language was not being used as much as initially desired considering they were living in Indonesia.
Another participant mentioned that “one of the challenges is that so many people speak English.”
This thought is furthered by the common belief that many expatriate staff working in Indonesia do
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 55

not have knowledge of Indonesian. One participant mentioned that “a lot of the time it’s *careers for
expatriate staff in Indonesia] skills based, so the fact that you know your science, engineering or
consulting is a lot more important than whether or not you can speak the local language”. That
comment was furthered by the experience of one participant who noted that the large multi-
national company for which they work simply sends translators with Australian staff travelling
overseas, if they have to deal with non-English speakers. The idea of combining Indonesian studies
with another discipline was returned to by one participant, who felt that this is a key way to become
employed in an Indonesia-related career. That participant commented that “for friends who
combined language with teaching, journalism or communication, they found it a lot easier to find
jobs that combined the two”. This theory could also be supported by the Graduate Careers Australia
data which illustrates that other such disciplines have a much higher rate of graduates finding work
which is important to their main area of study. Nevertheless, it was a popular idea among research
participants, who had firsthand experience of this phenomenon.
The most important aspect of this study though was the career experiences of these
graduates after their studies. The first aspect discussed was opportunities after graduation available
to Indonesian language graduates. Much negative sentiment was garnered through this question as
many participants recalled their experiences in finding employment which valued their Indonesian
language skills. One participant made it clear that they felt that in the ten years since graduation
only “bits and pieces came along *employment utilizing Indonesian language skills+, but there’s
nothing that’s ever full-time or on-going.” This thought was furthered by other statements,
including: “There are a few who find a way into Indonesia, but generally, I think a lot of people have
a hard time finding something which leads them back*to Indonesia+”. That same participant also
mentioned that many graduates are “disenchanted with Indonesian and where it can take people.”
Another participant mentioned that it is rare to have full time work in Indonesia, and that many of
their fellow students who graduated at the same time are not using their language skills at all. A
related thread to the debate is how available Indonesia-related careers are to such graduates. One
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 56

participant said that at the time it was “easier to pursue opportunities in-front of me,” meaning non-
Indonesia related. This was furthered by the dismissive comment from another respondent that
“There’s just nothing out there *Indonesian-related careers+… maybe there is and we all just can’t
find it… *but+ it’s hard.”
Another common theme throughout the focus group sessions is a desire to increase
engagement with Indonesian language through their future career. While many respondents had
encountered frustration and difficulty in finding a career which utilized their Indonesian language
skills, none had given up their search for the right position. This had led many to engage in further
study and additional experience through volunteer programs for others. Nevertheless, all
respondents demonstrated a willingness to continue to apply their Indonesian language skills in a
career. For several that meant completing a Diploma of Education, with the aim of teaching
Indonesian, and for others it meant keeping up to date with Indonesia related careers which become
available. This result confirmed the survey findings as per figure 13, pertaining to increased
engagement with Indonesian. Despite this positivity, several participants knew fellow Indonesian
language graduates who have completely ceased their engagement with the Indonesian language,
and even one who regretted their decision in frustration because of difficulties in finding
employment.
Importantly, all focus group participants were asked about their experience in filling out the
survey, and none experienced difficulty in answering the questions. They all expressed the belief
that the survey was simply to complete, unbiased and did not take an overly long time to fill out.
These results are validated by the very low incompletion rate, which validates the survey as an
effective research tool.
IMPLICATIONS FOR LANGUAGE PLANNING THEORY
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 57

This study of Indonesian language graduates in Australia has elicited useful data indicating
how the Indonesian language is used, and not used, in the Australian workplace, but what are the
implications for Language Planning Theory?
The study of Language Planning Theory has an extensive history of scholarly debate and
interpretation. Language planning theory is useful in explaining the nature of Australian language
policy. This thesis has demonstrated that the Australian Government has been successful in planning
the Indonesian language, as demonstrated by the 1994 NALSAS example. But how does Language
Planning Theory explain the negative outcomes of language which has been planned badly? How
does Language Planning Theory relate to ill-informed language planning policies, which can be
argued are based on alarmist and racist anxieties?
Language Planning Theory would be more useful if it could explain outcomes of ambitious
language planning policies which are not as successful as anticipated. Usefulness would also be
improved if Language Planning Theory could explain phenomena whereby specialist language skills
are difficult to apply in the workforce, or when language policies which are based upon speculative
and ill-conceived reasoning, which create resentment in the targets which are subjected to the
policy. Language Planning Theory was decided as the perspective to analyse the career paths of
Indonesian language graduates, as the theory is useful to explain the phenomena of language
planning. Language Planning Theory is subject to intrinsic limitations. These limitations inhibit
further testing of Language Planning Theory against the data created by this survey. The implications
of language planning policies need to be examined at the grass-roots level, which would inform
future expansion of Language Planning Theory. More research must be conducted at the grass-roots
level which can analyse how language planning policy affects individuals, including their
employability. Further theories can then be created and tested, including theories relating to
applying second language skills, and theories relating to the relationship between language skills and
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 58

employability. Essentially, Language Planning Theory can inform the context, but more research
must be conducted before it can inform my results.












Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 59

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This thesis has critically analysed Australian language planning policy directed towards the
study of Indonesian language, in order to illustrate the career paths of Indonesian language
graduates, and the extent to which their language studies are useful in their workplace.
The first section of the first chapter of this thesis examined the relevant literature pertaining
to Language Planning Theory. This theory is useful in providing a perspective on Australian language
policy, such as the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy, and the
current Reverse Colombo Plan. The existence and success of the 1994 NALSAS policy conforms with
the academic definition of Language Planning Theory, and demonstrates that government policy can
affect the extent to which language can be structured, acquired and used in accordance with a
language plan. The examples fore-mentioned illustrate that language planning is taking place within
Australia, and Language Planning Theory allows an academic perspective to analyse the phenomena.
As the results chapter signalled, Language Planning Theory can inform the context for the policy, but
cannot yet be used to analyse the survey and focus group data. Examples of language planning
policy were subsequently presented, and academic discourse surrounding the planning of Asian
languages was discussed. Several key language policies were presented, including the 1994 Rudd
Report, which resulted in the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy,
and the new Reverse Colombo Plan, which has replaced the Labour AsiaBound grant system. Only
recently, the current Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop committed A$100 million over five
years to implement the new Reverse Colombo Plan, which will see Australian students being sent to
Asia to learn Asian languages, and Indonesia will be the pilot country (Bishop, 2013a). As this thesis
has shown, such language graduates exist and are not being utilised, yet these policies are designed
to create more Indonesian literate Australians. I conclude that without critically analysing the career
paths of existing Indonesian language graduates in Australia, dramatically increasing their numbers
through language planning policy is counterproductive. As this thesis has demonstrated, influential
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 60

scholars are debating the need for such increased second language literacy, and a variety of
arguments exist which support and which undercut increased Indonesian literacy in Australia.
This research paper also assessed past surveys pertaining to graduate pathways, and
members of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association. I argue that none of the existing data relating
to graduate pathways is sufficient enough to analyse the performance of past language planning
policies. The Graduate Careers Australia reports do not provide discipline specific data which could
be useful for analysing the career paths for Indonesian language graduates. In this sense, this thesis
fills the gap in academic literature by providing in-depth information on Indonesian language
graduates.
This research project was guided by a specific methodology, which was outlined in Chapter
Two. The main data gathering method of this research project was the survey. The survey was
completed by a total of 139 Indonesian language majors, from Australian universities, who
graduated in the last ten years. The survey was conducted online, using the SurveyMonkey
program, which provided a professional platform for conducting the survey. The survey included
various questions pertaining to participants’ Indonesian language usage, especially in the context of
their workplace.
An important part of this study was the option for participants to make any comments
regarding the topics in question. These responses provided a valuable and anonymous insight into
the perspectives on Indonesian language graduates, and their experiences in finding employment
post-study. The focus group sessions also allowed me to probe further into the experiences of
individual Indonesian language graduates after the completion of their studies, and affording the
opportunity to discuss specific aspects of their answers.
This methodology was subject to various limitations, including the bias created in the
recruitment avenues, and the lack of control over online surveys. The way participants were
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 61

recruited was heavily biased towards graduates who are still active in the Australia-Indonesia
relationship. Realistically, I did not have control over the test conditions, or the survey participants. I
cannot be sure whether all the respondents actually did complete a major in Indonesian language
studies. I believe the rates of this occurring to be very, but none-the-less, it is a consideration when
analysing the data.
It must be noted also that it is difficult to make concrete conclusions based on the data
provided. There is no benchmark, or previous research to suggest that for a language planning policy
to be a success, 50% or 70% or more language graduates should be using the target language in their
workplace. Without such a benchmark or target, there is no way to justify a language program. If the
outcome of a particular policy is that an extra 1,000 Australians speak Indonesian, is that a success if
only say 70% use the language weekly after their studies, and only 50% of those use it in their
workplace? I conclude that the goalposts must be shifted from looking solely at how many additional
speakers are created, to how the language is used by the subjects of said language planning policy.
Clear employment outcomes must be set by the creators of language planning policy and monitored
for such policies to proceed.
Having stated that, we must look at the raw data gleaned from this survey to make
concluding remarks. As a general group of Indonesian language graduates, just fewer than 47% of
the total participant group use Indonesian in their workplace (this figure includes students, hence
their studies are considered their workplace). This figure is low when considering the previous,
current and planned policies surrounding the increased acquisition of Indonesian in Australia.
Sending 10,000 Australian students to Asia yearly (many of whom will go to Indonesia), without
addressing the current negativity surrounding Indonesia-related career opportunities, will further
deepen the problem of Indonesia-related employment. Policy must be directed towards increasing
the usefulness and modes of application of Asian languages in Australian society, rather than simply
increasing the numbers of overall Asian literate Australians. Such a policy could be used to set up
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 62

internships and or employment opportunities to allow existing Indonesian literate Australians to
contribute positively to the Australian economy. Surely if the opportunities exist to apply the
Indonesian language in careers in Australia, increased rates of acquisition will rise in response. The
current policy is backwards in application: rather than training Australians in Indonesian language in
anticipation of the creation of career opportunities, these opportunities should be highlighted and
advertised, which will demonstrate to the public as a whole the value in learning Asian languages. I
predict that only when Australians are shown evidence of the opportunities and the need for more
Indonesian literate Australians in the workforce, will take up the option to study Indonesian. As the
application of Indonesian language skills in the Australian workforce is so difficult, enrolments in
Indonesian language programs will dwindle in response for years to come.
As a broad conclusion, this thesis has highlighted one key difficulty in the application of
Asian Century policy: applying Indonesian language skills in the workplace. The Australian education
system cannot simply teach Australians Indonesian, and expect it to be instantaneously useful in
furthering the interests of both Australia, and the individual. A more complex approach must be
undertaken, which ensures that there is a natural progression from school or university, into the
workforce. This paper has highlighted the problems in the progression of Indonesian language
graduates in finding work which values their specialised linguistic ability. Proper monitoring and
critical assessment must take place in order for these expensive language planning policies to
continue.
I hope that this research paper has created a significant contribution to scholarly discourse
surrounding the study of Indonesian language and its application in the workforce. This paper
represents an early attempt to map the career paths of Indonesian language graduates, in order to
judge the merits of increased Indonesian language acquisition in Australia. This study intends to
highlight the perspectives of the graduates themselves, as a means of giving a voice to those
targeted by language policy. I have indicated a sense of negativity, and a general feeling that
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 63

recognition of Indonesian language skills in the workplace in Australia can be difficult to achieve. This
is not the fault of any one agency or institution, but must form a consideration in future language
planning in the Indonesian context. I believe that more detailed research should be conducted on
the topic of Asian language usage in the Australian workplace, in collaboration with government
departments and Australian businesses operating in Asia. This study can be seen as the first of many
research projects, which assess the progression of language graduates into the workforce. Future
research must include the four ‘priority’ languages: Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese and Indonesian,
which will allow comparison between the languages. Future research could include studying high
school graduates, or university graduates, and assessing how their second language competency has
impacted on their employment outcomes, and how these outcomes have benefited the Australian
economy. Future research could take various forms, but the study of Asian language usage in
Australia is as yet an underdeveloped field of academic inquiry.
Another theoretical framework which could be applied for further research in the area of
language planning policy is human capital theory. Human Capital theory “suggests that individuals
and society derive economic benefits from investments in people (Sweetland, 1996, p.341).” This
theory could be the basis of a study which clearly measures knowledge of Asian languages as
compared to economic indicators such as wages and employability. The understanding that language
knowledge can be measured as human capital would provide an excellent perspective for future
research.
I have no doubt that Indonesia will grow in the future to play a vital part in the prosperity
and security of Australia. Indonesia is growing at a rapid rate, and a healthy and mutually beneficial
relationship between the two countries is vital to securing healthy economic conditions. Now is an
important time for Australians to learn about our northern neighbour, and many Australians have
already undertaken academic programs focused on building up their knowledge of Indonesia, and
consequently are committed to finding work in the Indonesia-related area. I am an advocate for
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 64

deepening Australians awareness and understanding of Indonesia’s language, yet as this project has
shown, many stumbling blocks remain. This study is both timely and important as the nation
prepares for our future in the Asian region. Policy implemented now will affect Australia’s standings
in future decades, which is why clear analysis of current policy is drastically needed.
Returning to the now former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s quote in the introduction of this
thesis, do Asia Century policies, which aim to increases the acquisition rates of Indonesian in
Australian society, create a country of winners? I would argue that increased funding into Australian
society and industry to take advantage of the opportunities that Asia presents will benefit many
sectors of society. However, in terms of those Australians who have already become Indonesian
literate in Indonesian, it is argued that they are not yet winners in this Asian Century.













Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 65

RECOMMENDATION ONE, CURRENT AND PROSPECTIVE INDONESIAN LANGUAGE STUDENTS
Consistently reoccurring throughout the results has been the theory that students who
studied Indonesian language as an addition to a degree in another field which has high employment
rates already, are more employable that language students who study language alone. For instance,
the assertion that an Indonesian literate engineer will be more employable than someone who
studied a combination of languages alone is applicable in this context. It is my belief after conducting
this research that if a graduate has grounding in a discipline such as consulting or law etc, that those
skills are able to be transferred into the Indonesian context with the applicable language
competency. The Rudd Report underscores this, by identifying “the need for the next generation of
Australians to integrate languages/cultures skills with other professional and occupational skills of
the workforce rather than simply producing specialist linguists(Rudd, 1994, p.vii).” Access to
Indonesian language classes for students not enrolled in an Arts degree could help to improve this
issue.
Recommendation: Indonesian language and studies units must be better integrated and
accessible in degrees outside the Arts discipline at universities.
RECOMMENDATION TWO, FOR GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS
As advocated by the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association, in which I am very involved, a
national accreditation system could be introduced, whereby Indonesian language skills (or other
Asian language skills) and in-country experience are formally recognised, and given weight in
recruitment processes (AIYA, 2013b, p.19). This would ensure that Australians who have Asia-
relevant capabilities are being employed in careers which enable them to apply their skills, and in
order to culturally sensitively represent their company or government. If the government is
determined to implement language planning policy which prioritises the study of Indonesian, surely
it’s natural that those Indonesian language skills once attained are formally recognised in
recruitment processes for their departments.
Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 66

Recommendation: An Asia-Capable Accreditation System should be introduced into the
Commonwealth and State public sector and Australian businesses operating in Asia.
RECOMMENDATION THREE, POLICY MAKERS AND ACADEMIA
This thesis has demonstrated the reality that rates of Indonesian language usage in the
workplace by Indonesian language graduates are currently low. This thesis has also demonstrated
that Indonesian language graduates are finding it difficult to apply their linguistic ability in their
careers. Never-the-less, language planning policy is continuing to be implemented, and public funds
spent on increasing the acquisition rates of Indonesian are not under review. It is my opinion that
further research must be conducted, which identifies the link between economic benefits and Asian
language acquisition, in the Australian Asian Century context. This study has focused solely on
Indonesian, but a similar study should be conducted on the three remaining ‘priority languages’:
Mandarin, Japanese and Hindi. It is my belief that tangible evidence must be presented which links
economic benefits, including workplace language usage, with Asian language acquisition, before
such language planning policy continues. It is simply improper and unreasonable to publically
advertise to the public and private sector need for Indonesian language skills, without clear evidence
that such a need exists. I advocate for a larger study, with a narrowly defined scope could link these
two concepts, using a similar methodology, specifically in the Australian contemporary context.
Recommendation: Further research should be conducted which analyses links between
Asian language competency and careers in the Australian public service and Australian businesses
operating in Asia.





Indonesian Literacy in Australia, Samuel Bashfield, ATS4462 67

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APPENDICES
1. Survey Data Summary
2. Ethics Approval
3. Explanatory Statements
4. Sample Focus Group Permission Form