Following the expansion of area studies relating to Asia in the early seventies, the Asian Studies Association of Australia was founded in Melbourne in 1976.

In the next year, 1977, the Malaysia Society was the first “country association” to be affiliated with the Association under the provisions of the new constitution.

For almost another 25 years, Indonesianists were slow to organise themselves, despite their greater numbers. There were no associations, no conferences (apart from the Indonesia Update, sponsored by the ANU), and no scholarly journals other than the Indonesian Studies Bulletin administered by Stuart Robson and later Phillip Mahnken. For the most part, senior academics were oriented towards Leiden, London and Cornell, and regularly attended the American based Asian Studies Association conferences.

In 1998, Harry Aveling convened the first meeting of Indonesianists at an ASAA Conference (University of NSW). The purpose of the meeting was to begin to build a corporate identity among Indonesianists and to gain a sense of what was happening in Indonesian Studies around the country.

A second meeting was held at the 2000 ASAA Conference (University of Melbourne). A committee was elected, consisting of Harry Aveling (President), Greg Barton (Vice President), Charles Coppel (Secretary) and Kate McGregor (Postgraduate Representative). Jemma Purdey was later co-opted to the committee.

A major recommendation of the meeting was the proposal to hold a low budget conference focusing on Indonesia in the alternative years to the ASAA Conference. There was a general agreement that these conferences should be open to all who wished to present papers, and that the participation of postgraduate students and early career academics would be particularly encouraged.  Those speaking in favour of such a conference included Krishna Sen, Kate McGregor and Michele Ford.

Charles Coppel circulated Indonesianists in August 2000 to see if there was sufficient support for such a project. There was and planning began soon after. ICOC 1 was held at the University of Melbourne in July 2001 and convened by Kate McGregor, Jemma Purdey, and Harry Aveling, with widespread assistance from many other volunteers and supporters. Over 90 persons attended ICOC 1, coming from Australia, Indonesia and the United States. The keynote address was delivered by Dr Herbert Feith and was entitled “Reaffirming Faith in the Project of Indonesia”. It was to be his last formal public activity in Australia before his untimely death.

ICOC 2 was held in Canberra in 2003, convened by Robert Cribb. That conference launched the first Indonesia Council logo and website, designed by Elisabeth Jackson, which this site now replaces. The journey to build a home for Indonesianists in Australia had begun.