This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to the history and politics of the development of Indonesian language studies within Australia. It examines the effect on Indonesian language education of government policies such as the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools (NALSAS) strategy, and responses developed by Indonesian language educators at the tertiary level. It suggests that, in order to achieve a more complete understanding of such issues as changes in the popularity of Indonesian language studies at the tertiary level, or the development of language education per se, it is necessary to broaden the frame of reference to include not only national policies but also politics. The impact of ideological, social, political, national and international frameworks also needs to be considered. Stakeholders may be able to effect improvements if the academic sector and government bodies identify and consciously pursue common goals, notably through a critique of the status of language teachers and continuous, collaborative consultation between the stakeholders on planning and problem solving.