Language and Culture Maintenance and Cultural Identity among Asian Migrants in Multicultural Australia

Dr Farzana Yesmen Chowdhury1

1University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

Since the implementation of a non-racial Australian immigrant selection policy in the early 1970s, many Asian immigrants and refugees started arriving in Australia, from countries including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, and Cambodia (Clyne & Kipp, 2006). The linguistic and cultural diversity of Australia has given ample scope to the study of language and culture maintenance among its immigrant communities. While the proportion of the population using a community language at home was rising, the linguistic demography started to change. Vietnamese, Mandarin, Filipino, Hindi, and Turkish had a steady increase in speakers over the ten-year period, while languages like German, French, Maltese, Dutch, and Polish had a steady decline over the same period. Based on the most studied migrant communities who have arrived in Australia from Asia after the 1970s, this presentation will provide an overview of how and to what extent they maintain their ethnic language and culture, emphasising the factors which facilitate it. Findings of this presentation show that the multicultural policy has enhanced the ethnic language and culture maintenance of recently arrived migrant communities in Australia. This presentation will provide insight into how Asian migrant communities think of their identity managing their linguistic heritage and cultural practices in multicultural Australia.


Dr Farzana Yesmen Chowdhury is a social science researcher with a keen interest in all aspects of sociolinguistics and cultural studies. She obtained her PhD and Master of Applied Linguistics in TESOL Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. She has a strong preference for research of an ethnographic and narrative nature. She enjoys immersing herself in Asian migrant communities of all types and trying to understand their language and culture maintenance in a more holistic way encapsulating not only issues of language use, but also cultural practices and identity, and the associated factors which influence such practices and their wellbeing. Her research focuses broadly on migrants and their language, identity, family language policy, acculturation, wellbeing.

The Relationship between Attitudes to Freedom, Individualism and Gender Equality and Perceptions regarding Family Name Selection among Japanese “Lifestyle Migrants” in Australia

Dr Etsuko Toyoda1

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

This paper presents findings from a study examining the relationship between attitudes to freedom, individualism and gender equality and perceptions regarding family name selection among Japanese “lifestyle migrants” in Australia. Since the 1990s, it has been identified that, unlike other East Asians, Japanese people migrate to Australia seeking a leisurely lifestyle. They value time with family more than work, appreciate freedom and individualism, and have gender equality perception. The participants of the current study, Japanese married couples living in Australia, showed a tendency of prioritising time with family over work, appreciating freedom and individualism, and holding liberal perceptions about gender equality. The study investigated whether these participants have questioned the Japanese marriage system that forces a couple to choose one spouse’s surname upon marriage, in which the majority of couples choose the husband’s due to the historical legacy and social expectation, after encountering the flexible Australian family name selection. The analysis of in-depth interview data suggests that, despite the participants’ positive attitudes towards freedom, individualism and gender equality, the majority of them have followed the Japanese marriage system and unquestioningly chosen the husband’s name, and their perceptions have not shifted much even after learning of other choices available in Australia.


Dr Etsuko Toyoda is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies. She teaches advanced Japanese language subjects focusing on intercultural understanding. Her research interests include Language and Communication (Second Language Acquisition; Metacognitive Awareness, Japanese Linguistics, Intercultural Communication) and Japan Studies (Japanese Culture and Society, Acculturation, Family Values, Marriage and Surname)

K-Wave and the rise of “K-related” activities in Australia

Miss Fresha Mardira1

1The Academy, Sydney, Australia

The Korean wave is a global phenomenon that is becoming more popular everyday. The wave influenced the current global export (i.e. beauty products, food, tourism) through its cleverly marketed pop culture and has successfully enhanced brand value – the public/ global perception of South Korea. Apart from entertainment products such as K-pop music and K soap operas, the soft export includes the essences of Korean culture itself. The popularity of the culture has resulted in new opportunities being granted by the Korean General Consulate such as the recently held K-Next (a Melbourne K-pop community concert) in October 2019. It was also reported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, that there has been an increase in the number of students in Korean language classes at university. This increase will be discussed along with their contribution to the future understanding of Asian culture in Australia, and vice versa.


Fresha Mardira is the Operations Manager of The Academy, a program for talents to explore their full potential through boot camp style K-pop training. She started as one of the first cohort of trainees to ever experience the program in 2016. Inspired by the company’s philosophy, Fresha moved into a management role within The Academy and aspires to help guide and discover young talents in Australia.

The Kpop Terrarium: A Growing Culture of Self-Supplied Content in Australia

Miss Anne Lu1

1The Academy, Sydney, Australia

Kpop the multi-billion dollar industry that has spread across the globe at an accelerating rate. As a result, the demand for Kpop content is also on the rise and whilst countries like America had embraced Kpop in their mainstream media (i.e. TV and radio), Australia has been slow on the uptake. This lack of promotion has led Australian fans to create somewhat of an autonomous culture, where Kpop dance covers, lessons, competitions and community events are mostly organised by fans. Self-promoting and self-sustaining. In stark contrast, in America, Asian idols appear on popular talk shows, such as Ellen, and at major music award ceremonies like the Billboard Music Awards.  Any representation of Kpop on Australian TV and radio has been predominantly negative, with articles focusing on “the dark side of Kpop” and claims that “Kpop fans are crazy teenagers”. Consequently, audiences steer away from mainstream media and seek to create their own online Kpop content so that they are able to enjoy their passion freely and without judgement. This has led to a rise of social media and streaming platforms as means to access Asian content whilst Australian free-to-air TV and radio play become more and more obsolete.


Anne Lu is a Trainee Manager for The Academy Australia. From a young age, she has held various leadership positions from netball team captain to senior management roles at the big four banks and endeavours to use her experience to inspire, coach and mentor the young trainees in The Academy.

Putting Australia in Future Asia Entertainment Landscape

Miss Angela Lee1

1The Academy, Sydney, Australia

The Academy as an organisation that has multiple objectives.  One them is to provide an avenue for more Australia talents to be seen in Asia’s entertainment scene. Kpop established training system provided us with a framework that we can quickly implement in Australia. Since 2016, we have completed three Kpop bootcamps in Australia and one in Seoul at Kpop training mecca (Produce 101 filming site) with larger agencies participation in our private audition including powerhouse such as Belift Lab and Source Music.

We are actively seeking ways to promote Australia further. Opportunities for China shows are currently limited to users of Wechat due to non-established integration with mainstream Australia media from local promoters.  Auditions for Chinese shows are generally not known in Australia and an example of this was a recent audition for Idol Producer 3 Audition in Australia. A facebook post was created on our page and without any boost, we had over 1000 views on the post in less than 24 hours and with one successful placement of our bootcamp trainee in the audition.


Angela Lee is a Singaporean based in Australia and found of The Academy, a company based in Australia. She founded The Academy in 2016, which now is well known within Australia’s Kpop community for its flagship program Kpop Bootcamp now running in its fourth year. Angela attended University of Sydney and graduated with a bachelor of Economics degree majoring in Government and International Relations. Started professional career in the financial industry but passion in entertainment had prompted her to create The Academy as a platform for talent scouting and trainee experiential programme in Australia.

Asia in Australia and Australian in Asia

Miss Angela Lee1, Miss Anne Lu1, Miss Fresha Mardira1

1The Academy, Sydney, Australia

Chair: Angela Lee


The panel seeks to highlight the influence of KPOP in Australia resulting in the growth of grassroot activities as a consequence of the lack of mainstream media support for Kpop content. One of the presenters will also highlight the lack of integration between local Chinese promoters with mainstream audiences which has contributed to the lack of Australian representation in Chinese media and shows.

English, Indonesian, and Cocos Malay: Language, Power and Identity on a (Post)colonial tropical atoll

Dr Nicholas Herriman1, Dr Alistair Welsh2, Dr Monika Winarnita2

1La Trobe University, , Australia, 2Deakin University, , Australia

Generally, scholars in postcolonial studies view rejecting a colonial language as a radical act. But is it less radical for (formerly) colonised subjects to speak in the coloniser’s tongue? Based on extensive fieldwork on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, we contend that local Malays have an uneasy relationship with English. After 150 years’ rule under a dynasty of English-speaking ‘White Rajahs’, the local Cocos Malays voted, in 1984, for their islands to be integrated into Australia. As Australian citizens, for the Cocos Malays the significance of using English is context/situation-dependent. Using English can be highly empowering as much as oppressive. However, other options are also problematic. Local residents perceive themselves to be partly descended from Indonesians. Indeed, Indonesian was taught in the local school as part of the Australian education department’s curriculum. This however met with disapproval, leading to calls for the teaching of Cocos Malay. However, Cocos Malay mostly exists as an oral—formal codification has yet to be undertaken. At the same time, most parents desire that their children achieve proficiency in English. This complexity of the language situation is a barometer of the historical and social contestation.


Dr Nicholas Herriman is a senior lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology at La Trobe University. He has conducted fieldwork in East Java and on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. His published works included The Entangled State (Yale Southeast Asian Studies) and Witch-hunt and Conspiracy.

Monika, Alistair, and Nick have all undertaken fieldwork among Cocos Malays on Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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