AIHW news

Understanding the health of culturally and linguistically diverse populations

The article was originally posted on LinkedIn 

Today the AIHW has released Reporting on the health of culturally and linguistically diverse populations in Australia, a report that explores how linked data can be used to better identify and report on health outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians.

Australia is an ethnically diverse nation, with Australia’s population including people born in nearly every country of the world. With such diversity, it is vitally important to collect meaningful data to ensure people from CALD backgrounds can access the health and community services they require.

A key challenge in collecting these data is the range of aspects that cultural and linguistic diversity can encompass, including a person’s country of birth, their ancestry, where their parents were born, what language/s they speak and their religious affiliation. There can also be large differences within CALD groups. For example, those born in the same country may not identify with the same ancestry or speak the same language.

At present, many existing data collections include very little, or no, information on CALD populations. However, linked data has the potential to overcome these challenges.

This piece of work used the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP), which combines information from data sets such as the Census, MBS and PBS. As MADIP data are linked at the level of an individual, information from one data set (for example, country of birth from the Census), can be used to supplement information in data sets that do not collect this information.

While this release is an important step forward, more work is needed to gain a better understanding of the health status of CALD populations in Australia and how the health system is responding to their health care needs.

The recently released Australia’s health 2022 included an article on health service use among CALD populations which also used linked MADIP data. The AIHW has more projects underway to expand on the findings of this report, including one with the Department of Home Affairs to fill an important data gap on the health outcomes of refugees living in Australia.

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