Clear Communication Critical to Social Cohesion and a Positive Community Response
Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are more accepting of the social measures to combat COVID, than other Australians, and say the crisis has strengthened their communities.
In an Essential Report for the Crescent Institute, 50% of people that use languages other than English (LOTE) believe their community is closer and stronger since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s significantly higher than the broader community, where only 35% said the same. Respondents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are also more positive about the broader effects on Australian society, with 52% saying they believe Australia more cohesive than it was before the crisis. Thirty nine percent of all Australians surveyed felt the same.
A clear majority, (59% percent) of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds also say the measures have been fair. Again, that’s higher than the broad community as only 46% of the national sample say the same. While these figures will be a relief to Australian governments – the majority of respondents in the general community and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds say the messaging over Covid safely regulations have been clear – there is evidence that focused communication about controlling the virus is more important than ever.
Half the people surveyed that use LOTE at home say they have had disagreements with friends and family members over false or unreliable information about the disease and its control. That’s ten percent higher than in the broader community. The survey was taken by 1,100 people nationally over ten days in the past fortnight.
“It is no surprise that our multiculturalism is a significant strength during times of crisis,” said Crescent Institute Chair, Prof. Peter Shergold AC. “The global mindset, diversity and extensive experiences our multicultural communities bring to Australia are demonstrated in these results.
“The message to government is very clear – that continued investment in clear and accurate information to all communities is our greatest weapon to tackle the pandemic and strengthen cohesiveness at this time,” said Professor Shergold.
Speaking on behalf of the Institute, Board Director, Miriam Silva reflected on the response to the pandemic in Australia’s multicultural communities. “The pandemic has hit multi-cultural communities hard – particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. However, the close family bonds, resilience and community-mindedness has been a significant strength as shown in this response. There’s a real opportunity for governments to harness this goodwill and leadership at a community level to drive our recovery. Ongoing dialogue to understand the challenges, continued investment in communication and support for positive community initiatives will be key to this,” said Ms Silva.
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Crescent Institutes spokespeople from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are available for interview on the findings and their community experience.