Challenges for CALD clients accessing Government services

FECCA media release 6/8/13

FECCA is pleased to announce the release of Multicultural Access and Equity: Strengthening connections between communities and services. Recently provided to Government, the report is a first-hand account of the barriers faced by culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians in knowing about and accessing Government services. Each year, FECCA is commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to conduct direct consultations with CALD clients and to prepare a report summarising the key issues arising. The report then informs the Government’s Multicultural Access and Equity Policy.

FECCA heard from refugees, immigrants and people working in the mulicultural sector at the consultations held across Australia and through an online survey. “FECCA is extremely grateful for the time so many people took to come to share their experiences with us, or fill out our survey,” said FECCA Chair, Pino Migliorino.

“Many people described how hard it was to find relevant, understandable information about Government services and programs,” continued Migliorino. “A lot of people suggested that new arrivals should receive a hard copy information pack in their own language, and that there should be a central information point where people could find information about policies, programs and services.”

The report also recounts how CALD people are treated by Government agency staff. “We asked people what was most helpful when seeking to access services from a Government agency or Government -funded service provider. Overwhelmingly, the top response was staff who are friendly and respectful, “said Mr. Migliorino. “While people also spoke about the value of both bilingual staff and interpreters, the basic idea about the importance of respect, sensitivity and cultural competency from staff came through really strongly.”

Employment and employment services was again a key issue for CALD clients in 2012-13. FECCA heard numerous accounts from people who want to work, who are willing to spend time looking for work: but who are forced to rely on welfare payments because Job Services Australia (JSA) providers do not take sufficient account of their unique circumstances. “Not only are skills recognition processes too slow and onerous, but the help immigants receive at JSAs is inadequate,” explained Mr. Migliorino.

“This report articulates the key difficulties experienced by Australia’s CALD community seeking to access Government agencies will take note and improve the way in which services are designed and delivered,” explained Mr. Migliorino.

“This report articulates the key difficulties experienced by Australia’s CALD community seeking to access Government services and proposes recommendations to respond to these challenges. FECCA hopes Government agencies will take note and improve the way in which services are designed and delivered,” Mr. Migliorino concluded.

FECCA thanks everyone who participated in the community consultations and the online survey, and its partner organisations- Auburn Diversity Services Inc., Multicultural Activity Group in Cooma (MAGIC), the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia, and the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council- for their support and assistance in making the consultations happen.

Click here to download Multicultural Access and Equity: Strengthening connections between communities and services.