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Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Why ASEAN matters: our shared connections

ASEAN's people are part of the fabric of Australian society.

Australians with ASEAN ancestry or connection to the region can be found in every corner of Australia, from the top of our country to the very bottom, and right across the west to east coasts. Around 860,000 Australian residents claimed an ASEAN country as their country of birth in the 2016 census and nearly one million ASEAN ancestry. Over 700,000 Australians speak an ASEAN language, reflecting continued links with the region.

Each year over 100,000 students from ASEAN enrolled to study in Australia. Around 300 of these students came under Australian Government scholarships. At the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in March 2018, the Australian Government announced 50 Australia Awards ASEAN Scholarships to be awarded to the next generation of leaders from ASEAN countries to undertake post-graduate study in Australia. Many ASEAN alumni have forged careers in politics, business, academia and the arts while maintaining their close ties to Australia.

Young Australians are also choosing to study in Southeast Asia, including under the New Colombo Plan. This cohort is creating a new generation of Asia-literate Australian professionals.

Australians and people from the ASEAN region share a mutual love for travel and curiosity about each other. People from ASEAN countries made around 1.4 million visits to Australia for work, business or tourism in 2017 and Australians made just over 3 million trips to ASEAN countries.

Our people-people links with ASEAN are enhanced by the Australia-ASEAN Council. The Council creates linkages through school classroom exchanges, young leaders' programs, and through regular grants rounds.

Australia-ASEAN connections

  • Nearly one million Australians claim ASEAN ancestry
  • 700,000+ Australians speak an ASEAN language
  • Over 105,000 ASEAN students enrolled to study in Australia in 2020
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