Skip to content
Get Quote

The ultimate guide to multicultural community consultations

Did you know that according to the 2021 Census, nearly 30% of Australia’s population was born overseas?

Recent migration waves have significantly shaped Australia’s demographic landscape, with notable increases in migrants from countries such as India, China, Nepal, and the Philippines. As Australia becomes increasingly diverse, the need to effectively engage with multicultural communities has become more critical than ever.

Conducting community consultations stands out as one of the most effective strategies for enhancing your communication with Australia’s multicultural communities. By doing so, you can gather crucial insights that can be seamlessly integrated into your communication strategies.

What are multicultural community consultations?

Ethnolink Community Consultations

Multicultural community consultations are designed as structured interactions, available in various formats to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of participants. These formats include focus groups of typically 6-10 people, one-on-one interviews, and online surveys.

Community consultations are designed to facilitate dialogue between organisations and diverse cultural groups within a community.

Typically, a consultation targets a specific cultural group, such as people who have migrated from China, but it can also cater to groups sharing a common language like Arabic, thereby including participants from different cultures.

Moreover, these consultations may focus on other demographic characteristics, including age groups (e.g., seniors), recentness of migration (e.g., new migrants), specific regions (e.g., Victoria), or faith groups (e.g., Islam).

Focus groups and one-on-one interviews

Focus groups can be conducted both in-person and online, ensuring that those unable to attend in-person sessions can still contribute their insights and feedback.

Often scheduled to last from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the format and research method used, these sessions are geared towards gathering insights, opinions, and feedback on a broad spectrum of topics, policies, or initiatives.

To ensure everyone can participate effectively, sessions may be conducted in English, either by a bilingual facilitator or with the assistance of an interpreter alongside an English-speaking moderator.

It is crucial that participants in these consultations are compensated for their time, as a recognition of the value of their input and contributions.

Online surveys

Online surveys enable the collection of feedback from a broad audience. These surveys are designed for convenience, allowing participants to contribute at their own pace, and can be presented in multiple languages to ensure inclusivity.

To foster trust and encourage honest feedback, online surveys may provide privacy and anonymity. They may not facilitate in-depth interactions like focus groups or one-on-one interviews, but their wide reach and efficiency in identifying trends make them an invaluable component of multicultural community consultations.

What are the benefits of undertaking community consultations?

Community Consultations

Undertaking community consultations offers many benefits, including:

  • Building trust: Open engagement with multicultural communities cultivates trust. For example, a health service provider engaging in consultations to grasp cultural nuances related to medical care significantly strengthens trust with those communities.
  • Ensuring diverse perspectives are considered: Consultations with diverse communities can reveal unique insights, leading to enhanced and culturally sensitive service delivery. For instance, modifying a service in response to feedback from a migrant community can greatly improve its effectiveness.
  • Improving communications: Gathering direct feedback allows for the customisation of communication strategies to better meet the specific needs of diverse communities. For example, a non-profit organisation in the health communications sector adapting its animated videos based on community feedback, refining design, messaging, and creative elements to better resonate with their audience.
  • Enhancing public image: Organisations that actively engage with their communities and show a genuine commitment to inclusivity are often viewed more favourably by the public. A local council, for example, that adapts its services based on feedback from community consultations showcases its dedication to serving the needs of all community members.
  • Enhancing social cohesion: Providing opportunities for people from diverse communities to participate in society through these consultations not only amplifies their voices but also significantly increases social cohesion. This process fosters a sense of belonging and unity, encouraging a more inclusive and harmonious society.

How do I find community members to take part in consultations?

Finding participants for community consultations can be challenging, with obstacles such as disengagement, language barriers, or limited access to specific communities. Ethnolink excels at navigating these challenges, utilising a variety of strategies to encourage broad and meaningful participation:

  • Engaging with community and faith leaders: Connecting with influential figures within cultural communities can build trust and generate interest in your initiative, acting as a bridge to wider community involvement.
  • Leveraging social media and community channels: Crafting content tailored for the platforms where your target communities are most active can significantly increase visibility and engagement, facilitating the recruitment of participants.
  • Partnering with community organisations: Forming alliances with organisations that already have strong ties to multicultural communities offers a direct pathway to potential participants, leveraging existing trust and communication channels.

To accommodate diverse schedules and needs, offering consultations at various times and through easily accessible platforms can broaden participation. Moreover, ensuring information is available and sessions are conducted in the languages of the community helps to ensure that these consultations are inclusive and accessible to all interested individuals.

Case Study: Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

In a landmark project with the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), Ethnolink embarked on an ambitious journey to conduct community consultations across 37 language groups. This initiative was part of a larger effort to ensure that community profiles developed by the DFFH were not only accurate but also resonated with the cultural intricacies and preferences of Victoria’s diverse population.

The Challenge

The primary challenge was to recruit over 50 community participants from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive consultation process. The goal was to verify and enrich the ancestry information, cultural appropriateness, and communication and engagement preferences depicted in the community profiles. Achieving this required not only logistical coordination but also a deep cultural sensitivity and understanding.

The Solution

Ethnolink’s approach was multifaceted, involving targeted recruitment strategies to reach participants from the specified language groups. Through our network of community contacts and leveraging social media platforms, we successfully engaged a diverse group of participants, each bringing their unique perspectives and insights to the table.

The consultations were designed to be inclusive, providing a safe space for participants to share their experiences, feedback, and suggestions. Key areas of focus included the accuracy of cultural heritage representations, the inclusion of lesser-known dialects and traditions, and the communication strategies recommendations.

Lebanese Community Profiles

The Results

The project’s impact was significant, with community members highlighting previously unrepresented cultural heritage groups, thereby enriching the community profiles and the portrayal of Victoria’s diverse communities. Participants also offered invaluable feedback on dialects, traditions, and cultural nuances of lesser-known cultural groups, which were instrumental in refining the community profiles.

These enhanced profiles are now live on the DFFH website, serving as a testament to the project’s success. They offer a more accurate, culturally sensitive, and inclusive representation of Victoria’s multicultural identity, thanks to the direct input from community members themselves.

This project underscored the importance of authentic community consultation in capturing the richness of cultural diversity. By actively involving community members in the process, Ethnolink not only facilitated a more accurate depiction of cultural identities but also fostered a sense of ownership and pride among participants. This approach not only benefits the DFFH in its engagement efforts but also sets a benchmark for how government bodies can work collaboratively with multicultural communities to achieve mutual understanding and respect.


As Australia’s leading provider of multicultural community consultations, Ethnolink is committed to ensuring every voice is heard and valued. Our extensive experience and tailored approach enable us to facilitate meaningful conversations between organisations and Australia’s diverse communities. If you’re looking to undertake community consultations that genuinely reflect Australia’s multicultural landscape, reach out to Ethnolink.

Meet our Research and Strategy Consultant

Michael Hamilton is the Research and Strategy Consultant for Ethnolink. Prior to joining Ethnolink, he completed his Master of Translation Studies at Monash University in 2023. During his time at Monash, he worked with the Monash Intercultural Lab on community engagement projects and at the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute, where he gained insight into the dynamics of social cohesion in Australia.

At Ethnolink, Michael’s focus is on producing research outcomes that bridge the gap between academic insight and public thought in matters related to multicultural communities. His work is characterised by an awareness of the nuanced lived-experiences of multicultural Australians.

Recently Michael has worked on projects for Major Road Projects Victoria, exploring the challenges multicultural Victorians face when encountering road works and for Butterfly Foundation looking into eating disorders and body issue concerns within Arabic-speaking communities in Australia.

Let’s work together to build more inclusive, equitable, and cohesive communities.

Related Posts

2024 & beyond: A new era for multicultural communications in Australia
Making communication simple: Translating in Plain Language