More than one third of people living in Queensland were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.
Approximately one in 10 Queenslanders speak a language other than English at home.
62,400 do not speak English well or do not speak English at all.
There are more than 220 different cultural backgrounds and more than 220 languages spoken in Queensland.
This diversity presents a challenge to government and community to deliver services in ways that are relevant, meaningful and easily accessed by all Australians from whatever background. To meet this challenge, laws have been enacted in Australia to address the barriers arising from characteristics such as racial, cultural, religious and language backgrounds. At the same time, strategies have been developed to positively portray different ethnic communities and assist them to express and maintain their cultures. These initiatives demonstrate the commitment of government to promote equality in a culturally diverse society.
In 1998, the Queensland Government introduced the Multicultural Queensland Policy. The most recent Queensland Cultural Diversity Policy was launched in 2013. This policy is a blueprint for how to best manage cultural diversity to promote economic and social well-being. For more information on this policy and its application see the Multicultural Affairs Queensland website.
State and Federal government departments are now required to ensure that the programs they provide service the entire range of potential clients. This process has been called mainstreaming - ensuring that all services provided or funded by government are culturally inclusive. Departments are also using other ways such as developing multicultural sensitive funding requirements, conducting community education and awareness training for communities to access mainstream services.Organisations should respond to cultural diversity in their communities for many reasons, including:
- Social justice obligations, as reflected in government policies and international treaties.
- Rapidly increasing numbers of people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
- The disproportionate number, in some cultural groups, of people experiencing social exclusion and a high need for social services, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Community aspirations such as multiculturalism and self-determination.
- The requirements of funding bodies.
- Requirements of legislation such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of a range of attributes including race, religion or political belief.
- Maximisation of diverse skills and knowledge through community engagement.