The meaning of CALD communities: “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse”

What is CALD? CALD means “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse”. It’s an acronym that refers to the many Australian communities that originally came from different countries and therefore have cultures and languages that are different to those of Australians born here generation after generation.

CALD is not an identity. It’s a bureaucratic acronym that we use in the public and community sector, but individuals won’t necessarily identify as CALD.

Australian CALD communities, with their CALD background, come from 190 different countries and 300 different ancestries and we speak over 300 languages. But we wouldn’t ever identify as “CALD”. We identify as Spanish, Somali, Chinese… But not as CALD.

We like to use the term because it is easy. We put everybody in the same box. But that doesn’t mean that we are all the same.

Understanding CALD communities

Just How Diverse is Australia? Maybe a lot more than most of us realise!

Nearly half of all Australians were either born overseas, or one or both parents were born overseas. The most common overseas countries of birth are the United Kingdom and New Zealand. But the proportion of people born in China and India has increased since 2011 by around two percent.

Of the more than six million people born overseas, nearly one in five has arrived since 2011.

The vast majority of us (83%) choose to live in cities, much higher than the 61% of those born here. Sydney has the largest overseas-born population. As well, there are over 300 separately identified languages spoken in Australian homes.

More than one-fifth of Australians speak a language other than English at home. The most common languages spoken by CALD communities are:

  • Mandarin
  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Vietnamese

Tasmania has the highest rate of people speaking only English at home with 88%, while the Northern Territory has the lowest rate at 58%.

Communicating with CALD communities

The key to communicate with Australian CALD communities is to understand how widespread low literacy is. More than 40% of Australians have below-proficiency literacy.

There are different ways to overcome this communication barrier, for example:

  • producing pictorial content
  • videos
  • podcasts
  • writing your content in plain language

Developing multimedia communications can be costly and time-consuming. So here are 3 things that you can do to communicate effectively with CALD communities:

1. Use plain English

Plain language is a communication style where the wording, structure and design are so clear that the audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find and use the information.

Along with writing in plain language, we believe in walking in someone else’s shoes.

When communicating with CALD communities, we need to think about what we write from the reader’s perspective. We try to envisage how they would respond by putting ourselves in their shoes.

Ask yourself if your communication speaks your audience’s language, in every sense of the phrase. Is it specific to their situation? Is it sufficiently detailed? And, conversely, does it contain unnecessary detail that only serves to confuse?


2. Consider Easy English

Easy English is further simplified and includes images that help understand concepts. Easy English is ideal when communicating with people with learning disabilities. This affects a little less than half of Australian adults.

Whether you choose to use Plain English or Easy English will depend on who is going to read your content. Also consider why they might be reading it, what they need to know and what you want them to do once they’ve read it.


3. Use pictorial content

Delivering your message with pictorial content is a clever way to go about communicating with CALD communities. Not only can images be much easier to understand, they are also universally understood!

But this is a double-edged sword, as you need to make sure your images are culturally appropriate for all the CALD communities you are targeting.

All resources have a better impact when they include an image. But it’s critical not to include images just for the sake of it. Here are three ways you can use images more effectively when communicating with Australian CALD communities:

  • When you chose them well, images can help your audience relate to the message.
  • Images can support a concept or illustrate an idea so that the text is easier to understand.
  • Images can help the reader navigate through the resource.
  • Try to be consistent with the type of images that you use.

4. Translate your content

Translating content is a great way to reach CALD communities. We call this “community translations” or “public service translation” and they require a very strategic approach to ensure the content is effective.

When translating for CALD communities, have a “translation strategy”. Having a very detailed translation strategy will guarantee the success of your translations. A translation strategy is a set of parameters that you will agree on, follow and evaluate to guarantee the success of your CALD translations or community translations.

Contact us today to get started with your translation strategy.

Translating for CALD communities

When translating for CALD communities, proper names are an essential part of the translation strategy. The name of a program, a service or a product, or even the name of the organisation or a government department… they all need to be considered.

That is why, in the pre-translation stage of our translation projects, we like to discuss what’s the best way to write these names.

When translating for CALD communities, and depending on the situation, the audience, and the role that the name plays within the content, there are different strategies that we might use.

Generally speaking, we always try to leave program/organisation names in English. The key is whether we will provide a translation, a transliteration, a description, or none of those.

Here are some tips:

1. English name only

We recommend using this approach when the name of the organisation is not intuitive at all. By that, we mean that the name doesn’t give away any information at all about the product or the service provided.

Example 1: Centrelink

If we were to translate this name, the back translation could sound like “Link in the centre” “Link centre” “Centre link”.

As you can see, not only it would be confusing, it would actually not add any value to the reader. At all.


Example 2: Beyond Blue

You might think that this name does have an implied meaning. However, the “sadness” connotation that “blue” has in English doesn’t exist in most languages. So translating the name wouldn’t necessarily give any extra information to the reader either.

We could potentially stay away from literal translations and translate it as “Beyond Sad”, but this would definitely go beyond translation boundaries and more of a marketing/branding exercise. So it’s a no-go zone for us.


2. English name (followed by a translation in brackets)

This might be a good approach when the name of the organisation is very intuitive, and the brand might not be recognised.

Do you want to start translating for CALD communities but don’t know how?

Translations are often seen as an expensive way to reach #CALD communities. And they can be if you want to translate glossy brochures and fancy fact sheets.

Let’s go back to basics and consider your audience, your current interactions with CALD communities and how you can best leverage the content you produce. Translations really don’t have to be so expensive or, complicated.

But if you are just starting off with a small budget to test the waters, less is more. We are all about creating a solid foundation and start building from it!

Slow and steady wins the race.

It’s important to know where you are, where you want to be and map out a translation journey. Because the quality of your first translation project will set a precedent for future terminology, tone, register… The way your brand is presented and how you want your organisation to come across in different languages.

Once this is done, future translations will need to be consistent with what you already have, so it’s essential to get it right from the ground up.

Book a strategy session today so we can help you work out what’s the best first step, how much we can do with very little, and the impact that you can make in underrepresented CALD communities.

Example 1: Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health

As you can see, the name of the organisation gives away important information about the services the organisation might provide. So having a translation in brackets, after the English, would provide extra information to those who can’t read English.

There is another variation of this strategy, which is to provide a transliteration or a description of what the organisation does, rather than doing a more literal translation.

A transliteration is when we use the script of the language that we are translating into to replicate the sounds of the English name. So the words won’t actually make sense in the language, but the reader would be able to pronounce the English name.

What does “CALD Background” refer to:

The term “CALD” stands for “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse.” It encompasses individuals and communities in Australia who hail from different countries and possess distinct cultural practices and languages. This acronym is widely used in the public and community sectors to categorize and refer to communities with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The CALD background represents the essence of multicultural Australia, celebrating the richness and diversity brought by migration from around the globe.

Exploring CALD Communities:

CALD communities are groups of individuals residing in Australia who share a common bond of diverse cultural heritages and linguistic traditions. These communities embody the beauty of multiculturalism, showcasing a wide array of practices, customs, and languages. CALD communities include people from various countries, such as China, India, Vietnam, Lebanon, and many more. Their presence in Australia enriches the country’s social fabric, fostering cross-cultural understanding and acceptance.

The Significance of CALD Communities:

CALD communities play a vital role in shaping Australia’s social, economic, and cultural landscape. Their contributions are far-reaching, spanning various aspects of society. Culturally, they bring unique traditions, culinary delights, and artistic expressions that add vibrancy to the nation’s cultural tapestry. Linguistically, the diverse languages spoken within CALD communities provide a wealth of knowledge and opportunities for language exchange and appreciation.

CALD Services: Supporting Integration and Inclusion:

Australia offers a range of support services for individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, aiming to promote integration and inclusion. These services cover healthcare, education, employment, settlement support, language services, and cultural integration initiatives. CALD healthcare services provide culturally sensitive care, language assistance, and health education. Educational institutions offer language support programs and initiatives to foster inclusivity. Employment services assist CALD individuals in job market navigation and career development. Settlement support services aid newly arrived communities with housing and essential services. Language services include translation and interpretation. Cultural integration initiatives involve events and programs celebrating CALD communities’ cultural heritage.

We are a boutique translation firm in Australia that specialises in providing excellent NAATI translations for individuals, corporate and government/non-for-profits.

Our procedures follow industry best practice, so you can make sure that:  

  • Australian official bodies will accept our NAATI-certified translations 
  • we will help you reach CALD audiences with accessible, culturally appropriate and respectful translations 
  • our translations will help you reach your business goals. 
get a quote image

Get a quote today

"*" indicates required fields

Drop files here or
Max. file size: 32 MB.
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.