More than a quarter of Australians (26 per cent) were born overseas, and of these, two thirds were born in non-English speaking countries. Historically, Australians from culturally diverse backgrounds have been underrepresented in the disability sector.
More than 300 different languages are spoken by people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in addition to the hundreds of languages spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
People living with disability are members of many groups and may also identify with the beliefs, religion, values and history of other cultures. Different cultures have different understandings of, and attitudes towards, disability[i]. This may influence how you engage with communities.
Challenges that may affect your engagement
There are a number of challenges that may affect your engagement with multicultural communities including:
- navigating new government structures, processes, roles and responsibilities
- adjusting to different culture and language, and
- access to General Practitioners and other services.
Other factors that may impact engagement include:
- relationships. Remembering that building trust takes time
- language and literacy
- cultural practices
- whether the subject for engagement is culturally sensitive.
The role of family members and community
In planning engagement with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds consider the role of family members and community. A communication plan specifically for culturally and linguistically diverse communities may be helpful. Working in partnership with peak bodies and local cultural community groups is a good way to promote your consultation with existing networks and build ongoing relationships and trust.
Tailor your communications
- Consider whether translating and interpreting is required and contact the Interpreting and Translating Centre.
- Develop multilingual information strategies and promote your consultation in creative and cultural inclusive ways (Easy Read with pictures, written, spoken, electronic and printed).
- Communicate in each community’s preferred medium (some communities may prefer printed information rather than verbal).
- Use established ethnic and community radio stations, websites, press and other media. Use networks and consult with community organisations who can link you to communities and support engagement (such as National Ethnic Disability Alliance, the Migrant Resource Centre, Multicultural Communities Council of SA or Multicultural Affairs).
- Engage bicultural workers or interpreters at face-to-face engagements (please refer to your agencies’ policies and procedures for obtaining an interpreter); and allowing sufficient time for cross-cultural input and communication.
[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2016 Census, Commonwealth of Australia 2016