Page 2435 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines CALD people as people born overseas in countries other than those classified as main English-speaking countries—that is, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America and South Africa. As you can imagine, there are difficulties in this definition. The lived experience of a Native American might be very different from an Anglo Saxon or Celtic descendent of the same country. As another example, the Australian Public Service defines CALD people as “those who were born overseas, have a parent born overseas or speak a variety of languages”.

So you can see, the problem is that CALD has a variety of different meanings at the national level and there is no uniformity in the application of the term. The only consistent feature is the inclusion of those born overseas, which leads to another issue. According to a 2018 working paper titled Diversity Statistics in the OECD: How do OECD countries collect data on ethnic, racial and indigenous identity? “collecting migration-related information on the foreign-born population and their children is a crude method for capturing diversity”. The report points out that the use of such data as:

… proxy for ethnicity or race is problematic. The country of birth of a person neither takes account of the diversity of the country of origin of the individual or the parents … nor does it capture cultural affiliation, the inherently self-perceived aspect of belonging to an ethnic group.

So not only is the term CALD vague, but it also goes against best practice for diversity data collection.

But you do not have to take my word for it. The current federal immigration minister, Andrew Giles MP, has admitted that Australia does not effectively measure our diversity and that Australia’s failure to collect data on ethnicity or race—unlike the United States, Canada and New Zealand—is a fundamental barrier to understanding the issues that face multicultural Australians.

It is absolutely crucial that we change our data collection practices, because when it is done right, the consequences are profound. A 2018 report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which classified groups as Anglo-Celtic, European, non-European and Indigenous, found that Anglo-Celtic Australians are 17.9 per cent over-represented in senior leadership positions, while non-European Australians are 16.3 per cent under-represented. When measured properly, the disadvantage is clear and the policy implications are significant. But our current CALD classification does not accurately measure these differences, allowing us to ignore or to simply be in ignorance of an issue that deeply effects the lives of so many Canberrans.

I have spoken to many multicultural Canberrans about their experiences, both within the ACT public service and other industries, and the personal accounts they have shared are harrowing. Allow me to share some of their stories, and I quote:

Having completed my bachelor’s in engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration from the top business schools in Australia (Australian Graduate School of Management, ranked number 2 within Australia) and having previously served as a Section Manager (EL2 role), I have applied for several

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