Introduction and Minister's foreword

Minister's foreword

More than one million Victorians speak a language other than English at home. Many speak several languages. Language skills act as a bridge between people and between the cultures that make up our community. Our linguistic diversity reflects the multicultural and cosmopolitan nature of our State.

The Victorian Government aims to ensure that high quality interpreting and translation services are available for all Victorians who require language assistance when accessing government services.

In a multicultural society, such as Victoria, websites play an increasingly important role in providing information about government services. Victorians who prefer information in a language other than English should also enjoy the benefits online delivery offers.

Many government departments and agencies already provide information on their websites in languages other than English. These Guidelines will help all departments to provide online multilingual information effectively by improving the navigation and accessibility of online information in other languages.

I trust that all government departments and agencies will find these Guidelines useful in delivering high quality and accessible services to culturally and linguistically diverse Victorians.

Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs


These Guidelines aim to assist Victorian Government departments and agencies to improve the availability of multilingual information on their websites and other digital mediums. They are designed for people developing online content for translation, web teams deploying multilingual online content, and professional translators working on website content.

The Guidelines focus on preparing and deploying multilingual information online, and making it more accessible. The Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the companion publication, Effective Translations: Victorian Government Guidelines on Policy and Procedures.

Over one million Victorians speak a language other than English at home and over 200,000 Victorians have limited English proficiency. Language services are critical for many Victorians to access government services and information.

While internet access and usage varies between communities, digital platforms are increasingly important in making government information available in other languages. .The ABS census showed that internet use among Victorians originating from countries where people are less likely to speak English increased by 53 percent between 2006 and 2011.

Online delivery complements traditional ways of providing multilingual information. It also offers a number of unique features compared to hard copy translated information. It can more easily reach wide and dispersed audiences. Costs can be lower compared to hardcopy distribution, and online information is easier to keep up to date. Another advantage is that web-based multilingual audiovisual information can also be used to complement the written word.

Victorian Government departments and agencies provide a range of translated materials on their websites. However, navigating websites to find translated information can often be difficult without a knowledge of English. One reason is that translated information is often displayed in file formats, such as PDF, which may not contain searchable text. Making translated information more ‘discoverable’ is facilitated by having the content in HTML or by providing optimised MS Word or PDF files and improving search tools.

Improving website navigation will make translated information easier to find. As web technology changes and improves, new solutions are becoming available to enable better online accessibility of multilingual information.

The following companion publications are also available:

  • Using Interpreting Services guidelines
  • Effective Translations guidelines