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People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
What are the key characteristics of this group that are relevant to consultation?

People and community groups who identify as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) will require the consideration of language, cultural and communication needs in the planning and design of consultation events.

What are the implications of these characteristics for consultation?

In the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, 20.4% of Victorians, or one in five people aged five years or over spoke a language other then English at home. This highlights the importance of appropriate measures to involve people from different cultural backgrounds in every type of consultation.

Consulting with multicultural citizen groups and individuals can require the acknowledgement and consideration of the factors outlined below:

  • the needs and aspirations of different groups, such as women, new arrivals, refugees, youth, the aged, people with disabilities and isolated people
  • cultural expectations, gender roles and cross-cultural interaction
  • the different impact of immigration and settlement processes on men and women of different generations
  • how to use language and interpreting services
What methods or approaches have you found to be successful in accessing this group?

This information has been adapted from Maribyrnong City Council's Consultation Framework 2000 and includes different approaches to increasing the participation of CALD community groups and individuals in consultation.

  • Help citizens who have language difficulties by arranging one or more of the following services:
    • Commonwealth interpreting and Translating Services (TIS)
    • Victorian Interpreting and Translation Services (VITS)
    • On-site professional interpreters
    • Bi-lingual staff
  • Actively encourage the use of an interpreter whenever officers judge that communication with a citizen would be improved.

Promote the use of Telephone Interpreting Service (TIS)

  • Provide translation in relevant community languages on the reverse side of all appropriate council correspondence and offer assistance through an interpreter on request.
  • Use a range of appropriate methods to publicise council's services to people of CALD. These may include:
    • Using the ethnic media
    • Using existing community networks
    • Targeting specific language groups through educational talks, information sessions, etc
  • Identify, develop and contribute to links with CALD information sources, including media and other public relations agencies
  • Develop a better understanding of the languages spoken by service users through regular analysis of council data bases
Have you needed to vary the 'standard' methods to make them suitable for this group?

Some consultation methods are more appropriate in attempting to target this group. For instance, large public meeting can be an intimidating experience for any person, but add to this language difficulties and it results in a potentially isolating experience for the participant.

The use of community leaders, community cultural development techniques or workshops/focus groups are more appropriate ways to engage people from CALD backgrounds. Community exhibitions with interpreters and face-to-face exchange may also way of increase their participation.

Are there any further matters which are relevant to consulting with this group?

Ongoing engagement of CALD organisations and individuals in the municipality to increase participation in structured consultations is important. Careful planning and relationship-building is required. Such activities could include:

  • maintaining contact with community groups and organisations, such as Neighbourhood Centres, Migrant Resource Centres and Ethnic Community Councils
  • contact with English language teaching programs, such as those provided by TAFE, and community-based English language instructors
  • establishing ongoing means of contact with relevant peak or community bodies in the municipality (eg: international students, women's and cultural groups).
  • ensuring council attendance at ethnic community functions where appropriate
  • organising council displays in conspicuous areas and at significant local cultural events
Further information

The Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria is the peak non-government body representing the views of ethnic communities throughout Victoria.

The Victorian Office of Multicultural Affairs provides advice to the Victorian Government on multicultural affairs, immigration and community relations.

For case studies, click here.

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