People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Tailored guidance for the recruitment and selection of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to Victorian government boards.

Just under 50% of Victorians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas and around 26% of Victorians speak a language other than English at home.

Cultural and linguistic diversity is generally understood as a person who identifies with a culture or religion that is not predominantly represented in Australian society or speaks a language other than English at home.

Key considerations

Be aware of bias and barriers to participation. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including newly arrived, long standing communities and refugees, may face a range of barriers in recruitment processes. For example, in relation to their visa or migration status, lack of familiarity with formal interview processes depending on their experiences in their country of origin, as well as unconscious bias – which research has shown can impact on recruitment outcomes, consciously or unconsciously.

Understand cultural protocols and their impact on behaviour and actions. Consideration should be given to sensitivities and cultural influences, including the way cultures, traditions and beliefs can impact upon a person’s behaviours and responses. It is important to have a general understanding and to be aware of the potential for misunderstanding in these areas.

Non-verbal communications can vary significantly across cultures, and they may sometimes even have an opposite meaning. In some cultures, maintaining eye contact is seen as conveying trustworthiness or sincerity, while in others it is seen as a sign of disrespect, particularly between strangers or with someone in authority.

There are a number of cultural differences relating to physical proximity, physical contact, and physical postures and gestures. It is suggested to leave it to the candidate to initiate any physical contact, including handshakes.

Certain terminology or language can be misinterpreted or misrepresented. Using terms such as ‘non-English speaking’ or ‘migrant’ when referring to someone could be considered offensive and may be taken to imply the person is being categorised or is not part of the broader Australian community.

Avoid making assumptions about cultures, religions, and ethnic groups and recognise that cultural communities are not homogenous. Multicultural communities are extremely diverse, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are not in any way homogenous. It is important to ensure that different experiences are considered and represented – particularly in relation to specific barriers for people who are newly arrived, longstanding communities, temporary visa holders, refugees and people seeking asylum.

A person’s identity can be influenced by a range of factors. For example, a person may have a multicultural heritage, or visually appear to be of a culturally diverse background, but identify as an Australian. Candidates should be given the opportunity to self-identify, and recruiters should ask for clarification only if required.

Consider lived experience and practical knowledge as well as professional experience and avoid mandatory qualifications where possible. Focus on the key skills and attributes the person in the role will need, rather than formal qualifications or specific types of professional experience if they are not mandatory requirements of the role.

Consider providing (or offer) recruitment and other materials in a variety of languages and/or offering a plain English explanation or verbal overview. While your prospective board members may be proficient in English, being able to access materials in their own language may assist understanding and encourage their participation.

Key advertising channels

Advertising channel Description Process to advertise or contact information
Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC)

The VMC seeks to promote the full participation by Victoria’s diverse communities in the social, cultural, economic and political life of Victoria.

Upon request, the VMC can advertise your vacancy directly to their networks including:

  • Regional Advisory Councils – three metropolitan and five regional councils that bring together multicultural sector and community with local business and council representatives
  • Multicultural Chambers of Commerce – over 40 culture and faith-specific business councils and chambers of commerce.
Email appointment details to to advertise through the VMC’s social media channels and e-alerts.
Multicultural media

Targeting advising using CALD media will encourage more nominations from candidates from Victoria's multicultural communities.

Review the Victorian population diversity breakdowns to understand how to target your recruitment including Local Government areas report on population diversity.

Contact Multicultural Affairs, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing for advice on multicultural media outlets at
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) ECCV is the key peak body relating to multicultural affairs in Victoria, and forms part of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia. ECCV’s vision is to provide a platform and advocate for multicultural communities across Victoria. Email appointment details to to advertise broadly to Victoria’s multicultural communities and sector, including through the ECCV e-bulletin.
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) The Centre for Multicultural Youth is a not-for-profit organisation based in Victoria, providing specialist knowledge and support to young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. To advertise relevant opportunities through the CMY e-newsletter The Mix, complete the online enquiry form and provide appointment details.