Indigenous Australian-Indonesian intermarriage

30 Nov 2011

This story of Indigenous Australian-Indonesian intermarriage is one that sheds light on the changes to citizenship entitlement in Australia and the struggles of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Asian peoples to lead their lives free from government intervention. Indonesian-Australian contacts remain relatively unknown in Australian history. Early Macassan relations with the peoples of Northern Australia, brought to light by Campbell Macknight, stands out in Australian history as a significant first contact with Asia. More recently Regina Ganter has continued the Macassan story into the twentieth century exploring encounters with northern communities across Australia. But the story of wartime disruption faced by the families of Indonesian men and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their long wait for citizenship rights has yet to be told.

As a study of Australian citizenship and marriage law, this article discusses some of complex problems posed by this grey area of the law, and the often incompatible regulations imposed by the separate state and federal systems.

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