National Ethnic Disability Alliance

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

What Does CaLD Mean?

According to a study, the interplay of disability and ethnic diversity can result in distinctive individual experiences. Individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse origins may have different access to disability services than those born in Australia. The awareness of intersectionality is crucial because individuals with disabilities face numerous forms of bias based on other aspects of their identities, such as age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or race. [(2022, Disability Royal Commission)] . Recognising and respecting diversity is crucial, given that one-fourth of Australia’s population was born abroad and over 20 per cent speak a language other than English at home. 

Additionally, the intersectional approach acknowledges that the effects can be especially severe when various types of discrimination combine. For instance, individuals with disabilities may be more likely to report perceived bullying and/or discrimination in the workplace, even though trends indicate a general decline in such behaviours across all diversity groups.

An intersectional approach is necessary when tackling diversity and inclusion concerns, especially those connected to disability. Organisations may create a more equal and supportive environment for all employees by acknowledging the different facets of identity that individuals bring to the workplace and by fostering inclusion, likewise to Australia.

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CaLD) is a bureaucratic phrase coined in response to migrant groups’ opposition to the term NESB (Non-English Speaking Background). In addition, removing race from the Migration Act and the Constitution led to the government’s adoption of the CaLD acronym. One unfortunate consequence of adopting the term has been merging two distinct ideas, linguistic diversity and cultural diversity, into the same expression—measures of linguistic diversity are viewed as cultural diversity. Based on ancestry. An analysis of The 2021 census shows that approximately only 1 in 20 linguistically diverse persons were not culturally diverse, whilst 3 in 5 culturally diverse persons are not linguistically diverse. It is thus safe to assume that most culturally diverse persons in Australia are not linguistically diverse.

CaLD, in theory, encompasses a broader range of ethnic cultures and languages understood or spoken by contemporary Australians. Still, it is also viewed by many Australian-born persons from ethnically diverse backgrounds raised only speaking English as a derogative term. They are often not included regardless of their ancestry, especially those from long-established ethnic communities. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) uses a standard set of cultural and language diversity measurements in its Census to determine the CaLD status of individuals. The collection consists of four basic indicators: “Country of Birth,” “Main Language Other Than English Spoken at Home” (hence “language spoken at home”), “Proficiency in Spoken English,” and “Indigenous Status.” Additionally, the ABS collects other data that provides greater insight into a person’s unique qualities. Included are “Ancestry,” “Country of Birth of Father,” “Country of Birth of Mother,” “First Language Spoken,” “Languages Spoken at Home,” “Main Language Spoken,” “Religious Affiliation,” and “Year of Arrival in Australia.” According to the 2021 Census, 48.2% are born overseas or have a parent born overseas, and 264 Languages Other Than English (LOTE) and 239 First Nations languages are spoken in Australian homes. 

However, these classifiers must also capture native-born Australians from CaLD backgrounds. This includes Second and Third Generation migrants, Intercountry adoptees who only speak English at home, and migrants of colour born in Mainly English Speaking Countries (USA, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Africa) who have also migrated to Australia. Additionally, DEAF and newly arrived Australians who use Auslan identify as CaLD, implying that they, too, possess a language and culture separate from the majority of Anglo Australians. There is also a need for caution about including ATSI languages as CaLD, as they are distinct from the languages spoken and read by migrants and refugees. The Census only records a single spoken language, not the number of languages spoken by the person or the languages they are literate in. There is a danger in using stated spoken language as an approximation for determining translations. Many may be articulate in a spoken but not necessarily literate in that language or use a different script for that language.

This means that who becomes identified as being CaLD constantly changes, just like our migration patterns since 1788, and it will change again since the COVID pandemic has forever altered who sets foot in Australia as migrants and refugees.