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A key aspect of the homestay program is for your guest to gain an insight into Australian daily life, and for you to learn more about Indonesian life and culture. To help with the preparation for the visit below are some key cultural and logistical considerations to be aware of during your stay. 


Points to consider: 


  • Please ensure that your guest has opportunities to change money, check their emails and keep in touch with home. Note that the Asia Education Foundation will provide Indonesian participants an Australian SIM card with some pre-paid credit when they arrive in Melbourne. 


  • Provision of time and facilities to do laundry; please note that your guests may need to be made familiar with your washing machine (including how to use them) or they may assume you mean for them to hand-wash their clothes.  


  •  It is possible your guest will be shy in asking questions. For example, we have had Indonesians in the past feel too embarrassed to request additional blankets for their bed and have gone cold. Please ask your guests lots of questions to ensure they are comfortable and, in turn, encourage them to be forthright and discuss any specific requirements or concerns they may have. 


  • Your Indonesian guest may feel uncomfortable around dogs, this could be because of fearful past experiences with aggressive dogs in Indonesia, but in the case of many Muslims, dog’s saliva is believed to be unclean, and forbidden to come into contact with. Therefore, if you have a pet dog, please be mindful to discuss with your guest how they feel about contact, and if necessary, arrange for your pet to be on a leash/ in a separate room/ outdoors when they are around. It would be advisable to discuss this in an email before they arrive. 


  • Create time in your program for your guest to nominate an activity or place they would like to visit. Due to the hectic nature of the program they may also be in need of some ‘personal’ time and space. 


  • The Indonesian participants originate from various provinces throughout the archipelago and represent diverse and varied ethnic and religious segments of the national population. For example, your guest may be a Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist. 



  • Our Indonesia team can help you to communicate any concerns, needs or requests to your host, so make sure you let them know if you have specific requirements or are concerned at any point in your homestay experience. 


Collective Society 

Compared to Australians who tend to be more individualistic, valuing personal freedom, autonomy, and self-expression, Indonesians are predominantly collectivist, emphasizing close-knit relationships, cooperation, and interdependence. Group harmony and the well-being of the community are given significant importance.


Approximately 87% of the Indonesian population identifies as Muslim, meaning that there are various elements of Islamic culture integrated into daily life. There are also a number of other religions; approximately 7% are Protestant-Christian, 3% was Catholic-Christian and 2% was Hindu. A further 0.7% are Buddhist and 0.05% are Confucian. 


Majority Muslim 

In Indonesia, followers of Islam engage in prayer five times daily, directing themselves towards Mecca, in accordance with the sun's position. Dedicated prayer spaces known as mushola are readily available in various public establishments, including offices, shopping malls, and airports. These mushola are segregated for men and women. There are generally exceptions for the number of times pray should occur and the time at which they occur while travelling.

Greetings between two people of the same gender usually involve a handshake, however, devout Muslims may prefer not to touch people of the opposite gender and so may place their hand on their heart or bow slightly after shaking hands. To show consideration for Indonesian cultural norms and modesty, it is advised to maintain a respectful distance from individuals of the opposite gender unless you have a familiar relationship with them. 


Indonesian Muslims follow dietary restrictions based on Islamic principles. They abstain from consuming foods that are considered haram (forbidden) according to Islamic dietary laws. Some of the foods that Indonesian Muslims do not eat include: 

  • Pork: Muslims in Indonesia refrain from consuming pork and any products derived from it. 

  • Alcohol: Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for Indonesian Muslims. 

  • Blood: The consumption of blood or food items prepared with blood is prohibited. 

  • Animals not slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines: Indonesian Muslims only consume meat that has been slaughtered by following specific Islamic procedures, known as halal slaughter. 

  • Foods with non-halal ingredients: Foods that contain non-halal ingredients, such as gelatin derived from non-halal sources, are avoided by Indonesian Muslims. 


It is important to note that individual dietary practices may vary among Indonesian Muslims, and some may have additional personal dietary restrictions based on their cultural or individual beliefs. 

Hindu Indonesian's may also have dietary requirements, based on personal beliefs, regional customs, and specific sects within Hinduism.  


These may include: 
  • Beef: Many Hindu Indonesians avoid consuming beef as cows are considered sacred in Hinduism. 

  • Pork: Similar to Islamic dietary restrictions, Hindu Indonesians do not consume pork. 

  • Alcohol: The consumption of alcohol is generally discouraged or avoided by Hindu Indonesians. 

  • Onion and Garlic (in some cases): Some Hindu religious traditions and practices involve the avoidance of onion and garlic due to their believed effects on spiritual energy. 

  • Non-vegetarian Food on Certain Days: Some Hindu Indonesians may observe specific fasting or religious days where they abstain from consuming non-vegetarian food altogether. 


It's always advisable to ask or respect individual preferences when it comes to offering food. Rice is a very important part of daily meals for most Indonesians. There is a common saying that if you haven’t yet eaten a rice component to your meal; you haven’t actually eaten! This is not to say that you must radically alter your regular eating habits. Your guest may appreciate being made to feel welcome to prepare their own breakfasts/snacks, often a simple meal of steamed rice and a fried egg, or fried rice will suffice. 


There are a number of general Indonesian rules of etiquette regarding appropriate ways to interact with others. Being a foreigner, your guest will probably not expect you to adhere to such rules of conduct, and will probably be most understanding if you contravene these rules of politeness. 

  • Feet: As a general rule of thumb you should not point the soles of your feet/shoes at objects/people or touch anything with your foot. 

  • Pointing: Try to avoid pointing directly at you host with your index finger. For traditional Javanese people in particular, pointing is done with the thumb instead. 

  • Hand: Only use your right hand (not your left) when touching someone, handling money/papers, or for eating (except with knife and fork). The left hand is considered less clean. 

  • Head: The head is considered the purest part of an Indonesian’s body and should never be touched. When Indonesians pass people of superior status on the street, they may lower their head below the height of that person as a sign of respect. 

  • Time: The Indonesian concept of time is much looser than that of an Australian’s, so that is something to keep in mind. 

It is okay to discuss these kinds of cultural differences in notions of social propriety, and what is and is not appropriate behaviour. 

  • Avoid talking about government/military corruption in Indonesia as broaching sensitive topics such as these can make an Indonesian feel uncomfortable. 



It may be a surprise to your Indonesian guest that Australian toilets only have tissue paper available with no water for washing. This can be a bit of a shock for individuals who have always had washing facilities available. We have suggested to the Indonesian teachers that if they wish to wash in the toilet cubicle, they take a water bottle in with them. 


Bathrooms and toilets in Indonesian households typically have locks; however this is often not the case in Australian homes. This can also be an area of unease and concern for new Indonesian visitors. In the orientation and cultural training we have made them aware of this, and that the common practice is to knock before entering a bathroom or toilet to ensure someone is not already using the facility. 



It is customary for Indonesians to bring a gift for their host family and school. When it comes to gift-giving in Indonesia, it's important to be mindful of cultural norms and practices. Here are some general guidelines on what is considered appropriate and what is not: 


Appropriate Gifts: 
  • Food and Snacks: Indonesian snacks or traditional food items, such as cookies, local sweets, or coffee, are often appreciated. 

  • Souvenirs: Thoughtfully chosen souvenirs from your home country can be a nice gesture, allowing Indonesians to learn more about your culture. 

  • Islamic Gifts: Items that have an Islamic theme, such as Islamic art, calligraphy, prayer beads, or Islamic books, are appropriate for Muslim recipients. 

  • Personal Care Products: High-quality personal care items, such as soaps, or skincare products, can make suitable gifts. 


Inappropriate Gifts: 
  • Pork or Alcohol: As Indonesia has a large Muslim population, it is advisable to avoid gifting pork or alcoholic beverages. 

  • Inappropriate Clothing: Be mindful of the modesty and cultural norms in Indonesia, so avoid gifting revealing or inappropriate clothing. 

  • Offensive Items: Steer clear of gifts that may be offensive or disrespectful towards Indonesian culture, religion, or traditions. 

  • Personalized Gifts with Names: While personalized gifts can be thoughtful, avoid using names or images that may be considered disrespectful or offensive in Indonesian culture. 


It's important to note that individual preferences and cultural variations may exist, so it's always best to consider the recipient's background, beliefs, and personal tastes when selecting a gift.

Keeping things low-key 

Remember that the homestay program is not intended to completely disrupt your and your family’s normal day-to-day life. The above points are to ensure that your guest is comfortable and that you both have an enjoyable time. Hosting a foreign guest is a major undertaking and we encourage you to keep things simple and low-key to avoid adding additional stress to your hosting role. Invariably, Indonesian teachers tend to feel most satisfied with the homestay when they feel they have been exposed to the normal machinations of family life. 

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