Diaspora Engagement Policy: The Migration In Southeast Asia and Australia

This op-ed is part of AASYP’s Digital Dialogues 2022, which is a programme that aims to provide a platform and forum for future leaders from across the region to contribute to the policymaking and diplomacy sphere by engaging in issues relating to innovation and investment, digital economy, and regional mobility.


This paper seeks to show how regional migration between ASEAN countries and Australia happens. This will also explain how the Diaspora Engagement Policy of the ‘Migration Policy Institute (MPI)’ will function. According to MPI, it  considerable immigration has occurred in Australia, especially in the years following World War II, wherein, from the 23.2 million residents, nearly half are either ASEAN citizens or have at least one immigrant parent. Although Australia also participates in sending skilled workers going out from its shorelines. Wherein, according to the same site, Australia recorded an approximate outRow of 750,000 last 2003. However, the inRow of immigrants to Australia is still higher than the outRows. 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, the international migration going out of Australia may be categorized into three. First, it has short-term outRow of people who would stay abroad for less than a year only. Whereas, from 2012 and 2013, Australia recorded 14,613,209 arrivals and 14,791,945 departures. Second, it has long-term outRow of people who would tend to migrate abroad more than twelve months with the intention of going back to the country. Whereas, from 2012 and 2013, Australia recorded 523,527 arrivals and 277,698 departures. Lastly, it has people who prefer permanent settlement abroad. Whereas, from 2012 and 2013, Australia recorded 152,414 arrivals and 91,761 departures. Looking at the differences of the arrivals and departures, we could deduce that there are fewer Australians who would tend to migrate abroad. Hence, it implies a low outRow of people. On the other hand, the country has been receiving a higher number of arrivals. Thus, proving that Australia receives higher migration rates than the other countries.

Moreover, to be specific, this part will show how the growth of ASEAN immigrants occurred in Australia. According to Migration Policy Institute, Brunei has 2.8% annual growth in terms of outRow of people towards Australia. Whereas, the 2,650 people from 2006 grew to 3,210 in 2013. On the same year basis, the Philippines recorded a 5.8% annual growth rate. Whereas, 141,930 increased to 210,760. Furthermore, among the countries in Southeast Asia, Myanmar recorded the highest annual growth rate which was 9.7%. Wherein, the 14,330 emigrants signi1cantly increased to 27,410. In total, the countries in Southeast Asia have earned an annual growth rate of 4.6%. The 622,170 outRow of people from 2006 has increased to 852,420 in 2013.

Furthermore, this paragraph seeks to provide the approximation of outRow of Australian citizens towards the countries in Southeast Asia. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there were a total of 5,700 Australia-born and overseas-born Australians that migrated to the mentioned region from 2001 to 2002. In the year 2005 to 2006, there was already an outRow of 9,000 Australians living in different Southeast Asian countries. Moreover, in the year 2012 to 2013, there were already approximately 15,000 Australian immigrants in the said region. Based on the same source, the attraction of Australians toward a Southeast Asian country depends on its economic status. In other words, Australians migrate to states that have a fast-growing economy like Singapore. In contrast, slow-growing countries like the Philippines attract less Australian immigrants in the region.

With this status in regional mobility between ASEAN countries and Australia, the Migration Policy Institute recommends the application of Diaspora Engagement Policy. The application of this policy encourages the temporary return of the citizens of specific countries in order to help in its development. This includes providing a cheaper travel fare and faster air travel for the returning citizens. Furthermore, this also provides them the privilege to enjoy dual citizenship and guarantees them to hold professional positions in both countries. In a nutshell, this policy intends to attract the people who left their country to go back and help in improving their homeland.

With the progressing and increasing unemployment rates in various countries in Southeast Asia, regional mobility between the region and Australia shall be improved. Only then both regions will be benefitted mutually.

This article was written by Jude Ogarte, edited by the Diplomacy Team, and reviewed by the AASYP Publications Team.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the writer and in no way represent nor reflect the position of AASYP and members of the AASYP Publications Team. The AASYP Horizons Blog provides a platform for the free expression of opinions and intellectual discourse.

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