The Western Australian Multicultural Policy Framework (WA MPF) was endorsed by Cabinet in February 2020. It translates the principles and objectives of the Western
Australian Charter of Multiculturalism into three multicultural policy priorities for WA public sector agencies:
For all enquiries in relation to the framework, please contact the Office of Multicultural Interests.
Telephone 61 8 6551 8700
Note: Multicultural Plans are due to Minister Tony Buti's office by 31 January 2021
Resources are available to help public sector agencies explore ideas and strategies to implement the WA Multicultural Policy Framework. The use of these templates is optional and are intended as planning tools only.
Policy priority 1: Harmonious and inclusive communities
Policy priority 2: Culturally responsive policies, programs and services
Policy priority 3: Economic, social, cultural, civic and political participation
From the arrival of our First Peoples, with their wealth of languages
and cultures, Western Australia has been a multicultural State. Our
cultural diversity has continued to flourish since European settlement,
with people originating from more than 190 countries now calling
Western Australia their home.
Multiculturalism has shaped the successful and vibrant State that we live
in today so that we are well-placed to confront our challenges, build on
our achievements and harness the knowledge, skills and talents inherent
in our cultural diversity.
My Government is committed to ensuring that every Western Australian
has the opportunity to participate equitably in all aspects of our civic,
social, economic and cultural life.
As we move into a new decade, we have an opportunity to embrace all
aspects of our cultural and linguistic diversity to make Western Australia
The Western Australian Multicultural Policy Framework is a blueprint for
the public sector to lead in realising these aims and be an example for
the community, non-government and business sectors to follow.
I urge all State Government agencies to fully support and action the
Western Australian Multicultural Policy Framework to further our vision
of a State where everyone has a strong sense of belonging, can participate
fully and can achieve their goals.
Mark McGowan MLA
Premier of Western Australia
As the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural
Interests I am committed to promoting cultural
diversity as one of Western Australia's
As a descendant of Italian migrants, I have firsthand
knowledge of how my family found their feet in a
new country so that they — and those who came after
them — could belong and contribute to the best of
their ability to this great State.
Our cultural and linguistic diversity has created a
dynamic society that links us to the rest of the world,
creating global connections and furthering our economic
and social prosperity. It is vital that, as a government, we
provide the practical tools to harness these opportunities.
The Multicultural Policy Framework is an effective guide
to ensuring that every Western Australian gets a fair go
and that together we achieve the full potential
I acknowledge the work of my Multicultural
Advisory Group, its Multicultural Policy Framework
Subcommittee, the Office of Multicultural Interests,
my office and everyone from public and community
sectors who participated in consultations, provided
feedback and supported the Framework's development
I look forward to the implementation of this Framework
and working together to build and maintain a society
where everyone feels included and the full potential of
our multicultural society is realised.
Hon Paul Papalia CSC MLA
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests
The Government acknowledges that
Aboriginal peoples, as First Peoples of
Australia, have a unique place in society.
Aboriginal peoples and people from
migrant and refugee backgrounds have
vastly different starting points and there
are different challenges for each in terms
of achieving equitable outcomes. While
some of the elements of this Framework
apply to both population cohorts, it is still
critical that there is a dedicated focus on
Aboriginal people in the development
and implementation of policies, programs
and services. The Framework is therefore
primarily focused on Western Australians
from culturally and linguistically diverse
backgrounds while identifying areas of
intersection between the two groups.
The Government of Western Australia’s vision is for an inclusive
and harmonious society where everyone has a strong sense of
belonging, can participate and contribute fully in all aspects of
life and can achieve their goals.
Western Australia’s multicultural society includes all of us, whether
we were born here with ancestries reaching back generations, or
whether we have recently arrived.
Australia is recognised as one of the most successful multicultural
countries in the world. Much of this success can be attributed
to government’s multicultural policies and programs, which are
grounded in our recognition of the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and its related treaties and conventions1
and to widespread acknowledgement of the significant contribution
that migrants have made to the development of Australia as a nation.
Aboriginal peoples are the First Peoples of this country and provide a
rich and diverse foundation of culture, language and spirituality. Since
European settlement, migrants to Australia have created an even
more diverse society. Western Australians now come from more than
190 countries and speak approximately 240 languages including
around 50 Aboriginal languages.
Cultural diversity is undoubtedly one of the State’s greatest strengths.
It has contributed to our economic growth and enriched our society.
It is in our best interests to recognise and optimise the benefits that
cultural diversity brings and to provide everyone with the opportunity
to make economic, social, cultural, civic and political contributions to
The WA Charter of Multiculturalism demonstrates the Western
Australian Government’s commitment to multiculturalism and a
multicultural policy position that embraces all of us. Founded on
four principles — civic values, fairness, equality and participation — it
identifies key objectives for government to achieve an inclusive and
harmonious society. The policy emphasises the importance of mutual
respect, substantive equality and a commitment to shared values.
The Western Australian Multicultural Policy Framework articulates
policy priorities and provides a guide for government to translate
the Charter’s principles and objectives into actions that will lead to
positive outcomes for all Western Australians.
The WA Charter of Multiculturalism and the Multicultural Policy
Framework represent the Western Australian Government’s
affirmation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the dignity
and worth of the individual and the equal rights of each one of us
to participate fully in all aspects of life and achieve our potential. It
reinforces the Government’s zero tolerance for racism.
It is the responsibility of Western Australian public sector agencies to
ensure that, through their policies, programs and services, each one
of us can participate fully and share in the State’s prosperity.
The 2016 Census shows that WA’s resident population has reached 2,474,440.
In 2016, 77.2% of Western Australians had a
90% of people born in non-main English speaking countries
live in Metropolitan Perth (and 75% of all Western Australians).
WA is a multi-faith society with Western Australian's having many different religious affiliations.
Christianity is the largest religious group. The fastest growing religions are Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism.
33.0% of people (814,145 Western Australians) identified with no religion.
The Western Australian public sector agencies have a
leadership role to play in demonstrating behaviours and
implementing policies and practices that will achieve the
Western Australian Government’s vision.
The Framework is outcome-focused, providing a structure for
agencies to direct their efforts in achieving the government’s
vision for multiculturalism in Western Australia — through
effective leadership, planning, service provision and
engagement with communities. The Framework has a whole
of community focus recognising that all Western Australians
and organisations have a part to play in realising the full
potential of multiculturalism in this State. While focused on
the Western Australian public sector, it can be adapted for
any sector or organisation.
Facilitate the inclusion and empowerment of members of all communities as full and equal members of the Australian community, enjoying the rights and duties of a shared citizenship
Encourage a sense of Australian identity and belonging as citizens, within a multicultural society
Remove all barriers to equal participation in, and enjoyment of, all aspects of society: social, political, cultural and economic
Foster the recognition of the achievements of, and contributions to, the Western Australian community of all individuals regardless of their origins, perceived ‘race’, culture, religion and nationality
Social cohesion is achieved by supporting peoples’ sense of belonging in a society, encouraging participation, combatting racism and discrimination, and promoting equal rights and responsibilities for all. A cohesive society is where everyone:
Diversity is a statement of fact that encompasses the range of visible and invisible attributes, experiences and identities that shape each individual. Diversity embraces all human differences including but not limited to sex, ethnicity, physical ability,
social class, marital status, religion, political conviction, age or gender history.
First and foremost, what binds us are the principles and values we share and adherence to the laws of the State.
Fundamental to our progress as an inclusive and harmonious society is recognition and respect for our Aboriginal heritage and commitment to reconciliation. This is the foundation for building a society in which our cultural diversity is embraced and valued
and where everyone experiences a sense of belonging.
All members of society and both government and non-government organisations have a role to play in ensuring that educational institutions, workplaces and community spaces are environments where people are respected, included and provided with equal and
equitable opportunities. Social gatherings, local community events and sport, recreation and arts activities are all avenues to build mutual understanding.
Policies and strategies that enable each of us to identify with, connect with and nurture our cultural, linguistic and religious identity are important. So, too, is fair, balanced and fact-based public conversation and reporting and acknowledging the
positive contributions that all Western Australians have made and continue to make to the State.
The Government has zero tolerance for racism. Racism and discrimination are never acceptable and must be challenged by all of us. It is a cost to both the individual and society as a whole. Leadership—at all levels—that champions the positive
benefits of cultural diversity and combats racism and discrimination is critical.
This Framework provides a structure and strategies to guide development of agency multicultural plans. Not all strategies are universally relevant to all agencies and plans should be customised in accordance with an agency’s remit, type and scope.
To track progress in implementing multicultural plans, agencies are to develop indicators/measures that must include (where applicable):
Evidence-based policies, programs and services that are culturally responsive are critical in achieving equitable access and outcomes for all members of the community. Systemic proactive measures are required to achieve substantive equality, recognising
that policies and practices put in place to suit the majority of clients may have a disproportionate impact, not address the specific needs of certain groups of people and, in effect, may be indirectly discriminatory. This is systemic discrimination.
Employment, education, training, health and wellbeing, housing, transport, justice and family and social support are key focus areas for the delivery of services to the community. Social indicators such as employment and education levels, health outcomes
and interaction with the justice system can reveal inequities that must be addressed for us to achieve true equality for all.
Social identities are also multi-dimensional because we can belong to different groups at the same time. It is important for policies and programs to acknowledge the intersection of these identities with culture, language or religion. Some groups, such
as women, young people, seniors, people with disability, people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and LGBTQI+ may experience particular barriers when accessing services.
For policies, programs and services to be responsive to community needs, it is vital for planning processes to include:
Culturally responsive service delivery requires:
To track progress in implementing multicultural plans, agencies are to develop indicators/ measures that must include (where applicable):
The Government recognises cultural diversity as one of the State’s greatest strengths. At a national and State level, there are significant dividends to be gained from our cultural diversity in terms of international trade and diplomacy. There is
an increasing correlation between migration source countries and Western Australia’s trade markets, including tourism. International education is, and will remain, a major income source.
For organisations, a culturally diverse workforce opens the door to new perspectives, and innovative and creative approaches. It brings cultural knowledge and connections in addition to language skills. Where this is reflected and implemented at the leadership
level, decision-making and organisational performance can improve.
However, barriers to employment exist for many Western Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly those who are newly arrived or who enter through Australia’s Humanitarian Program. Employer preferences for people
who have Australian work experience, and difficulty obtaining recognition of overseas qualifications and skills, often drives overseas-qualified migrants to find work in less skilled occupations. This results in costs to both the individual and the
Western Australian economy.
A range of strategies are needed to ensure that public authorities are representative of the community they serve, and to better utilise the State’s cultural and linguistic diversity.
To track progress in implementing multicultural plans, agencies are to develop indicators/ measures that must include (where applicable):
Unconscious bias and lack of cultural capability in the workplace can pose further challenges. Some groups, including people who arrive as refugees and those who are perceived as visibly different, may experience greater disadvantage seeking work or career
advancement. Within these groups, some people, such as women and people with disability, may experience multi-layered disadvantage in a competitive employment market.
A substantial proportion of Western Australian small businesses are owned by migrants, an indication of how the drive, determination and hard work of migrants is making our cultural diversity one of our greatest assets. It is in the State’s interest
to nurture this potential so that it can develop in as many avenues as possible — in business and industry, and in our civic and political institutions to ensure that they are both representative of the community and enhanced by the contribution
of diverse knowledge, skills and perspectives.
For the Western Australian public sector, a range of strategies are needed to ensure that public authorities are representative of the community they serve, and to better utilise the State’s cultural and linguistic diversity, including:
In implementing this Framework, Western Australian public sector agencies will be required to develop their own multicultural plans in accordance with their portfolio area, policy and program priorities. The Framework provides for a staged approach to
implementation. Agency plans may be annual or cover multiple years
The Office of Multicultural Interests will be available to provide guidance to agencies in developing and implementing their multicultural plan and will provide planning and reporting templates.
Multicultural Plans shall be aligned with the Multicultural Policy Framework Priorities and the Policy Outcomes identified in the Framework adapted to each agency’s remit, type and scope.
Directors General and Chief Executive Officers are accountable for implementing the Multicultural Policy Framework in their agencies through their annual reports, which are tabled in Parliament, noting progress in:
Where relevant to an agency’s plan, information provided in the annual report should include details of the:
The Multicultural Policy Framework annual reporting requirements can incorporate or be incorporated in agencies’ reporting in relation to the Policy Framework for Substantive Equality and other relevant policies and plans.
A copy of each agency’s Multicultural Plan should be provided to the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests by 31 August.
Each year, the Office of Multicultural Interests shall prepare a summary of implementation of agencies’ Multicultural Plans for consideration by the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests and the Minister’s Multicultural Advisory
The Government will evaluate the implementation of the Western Australian Multicultural Policy Framework within five years of its introduction. The evaluation will form the basis of a report to Parliament by the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural
Interests. The report will highlight progress by agencies in implementing the Framework and showcase examples of initiatives undertaken across the WA public sector.
Promotion of active citizenship and representation in the democratic process is one of the main strategies in facilitating full participation by culturally and linguistically diverse communities in social, economic, cultural and civic activities.
Citizenship can be formally defined as the legal relationship between an individual and a state. More broadly, and in the context of the WA Charter of Multiculturalism, citizenship is the condition of belonging to social, religious, political or community
groups, locally, nationally and globally. Being part of a group carries with it a sense of belonging or identity, which includes rights and responsibilities, duties and privileges. These are guided by the agreed values and mutual obligations required
for active participation in the group. Citizenship incorporates three components—civil (rights and responsibilities), political (participation and representation) and social (social values, identity and community involvement). In this context,
the term ‘citizen’ refers to not only people who hold Australian citizenship but all Western Australians.
Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) was introduced in 1996 to replace ‘non-English speaking background’ (NESB) and was intended to be a broader, more flexible and inclusive term. It is generally applied to groups and individuals who
differ according to religion, language and ethnicity and whose ancestry is other than Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Anglo Saxon or Anglo Celtic.
For the purposes of data collection, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity apply. These are national standards for measuring diversity and include a core and standard set of cultural and language
The core set comprises:
The other indicators in the standard set are:
Agencies are encouraged to collect the minimum core data set and to identify and include relevant standard variables as appropriate.
Culturally responsive can be defined as the ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, in a manner that acknowledges their worth and preserves the dignity of individuals, families, and communities.
The focus should be on seeing the individual as unique, identifying cultural identity, and responding to the needs of each person in a manner that is respectful and maintains this identity. Providing culturally appropriate care therefore includes:
Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing shared values, beliefs, expectations, attitudes, assumptions and norms formed through similar experiences.
We develop shared patterns of behaviours and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding through the socialisation process. This creates a cultural identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group. For example, it can influence what we
believe is right or wrong and how we behave towards others.
Culture is not just about ethnicity. Culture is dynamic and constantly changing. It is the shared system of learned and shared values, beliefs and rules of conduct that make people behave in a certain way. It is a process for perceiving, believing, evaluating
and acting. It is a lens through which we view the world.
Diversity is a statement of fact that encompasses the range of visible and invisible attributes, experiences and identities that shape each individual. Diversity embraces all human differences including but not limited to ethnicity, sex, gender, gender
identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values systems and national origin.
Ethnicity describes a population of human beings whose members identify with each other, usually based on a presumed common ancestry; recognition by others as a distinct group; or by common cultural, linguistic, religious or territorial traits. People
can share the same nationality but belong to different ethnic groups, while people who share an ethnic identity can be of different nationalities.
Institutional, or systemic, discrimination is discrimination that is embedded in the policies and practices of an organisation. While this form of discrimination is often unintentional, the effect is to limit or restrict some groups of people from accessing
all or some of the services of an organisation in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. This type of discrimination is often difficult to distinguish as it appears neutral but has a negative effect on people with a particular attribute or characteristic
such as perceived impairment, race or gender.
Intersectionality as a process for systemic change recognises that individual characteristics do not exist independently of each other but rather inform our social identity and can intersect to create complex forms of oppression as a result of systems
and structures that do not take this diversity into consideration.
Our social identities are based on groups or communities we belong to and give us a sense of who we are. Social identities are also multi-dimensional because we can belong to different groups at the same time. Where we are socially located is defined
by the identities or groups to which we belong.
Using intersectionality as an analytical lens can guide us to consider a range of social identities simultaneously and enable us to understand the way privilege, power and oppression influence to include or exclude and how they shape an individual’s
sense of power, resilience and wellbeing.
Nationality refers to country of birth or citizenship. Nationality is sometimes used to mean ethnicity, although the two are technically different. People can share the same nationality but be of different ethnic groups and people who share an ethnic
identity can be of different nationalities. The importance of this distinction can be seen in language services.
NESB is the acronym for ‘Non-English-Speaking Background’. For the purposes of the Australian Bureau of Statistics cultural and linguistic indicators, NESB countries include all those except Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa,
the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Race is an outdated term used to group humans based on shared physical or social qualities, into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. Modern scholarship views racial categories as socially constructed; that is, race is not intrinsic to
human beings but rather an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to establish meaning in a social context. Although still used in general contexts, race has often been replaced by less ambiguous terms, such as ethnicity, populations
Substantive equality means achieving equitable outcomes as well as providing equal opportunity. It highlights the need to sometimes treat people differently to achieve equal results. It takes into account the effects of past discrimination, and recognises
that rights, entitlements, opportunities and access are not equally distributed throughout society. It is achieved by addressing and preventing systemic discrimination by adjusting policies, procedures and practices to meet the specific needs of certain
groups in the community.
Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, which stem from a tendency to categorise
people. It is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with a person’s conscious values.
Unconscious bias happens automatically and is triggered by making quick assessments of people and situations based on our own background, culture and personal experiences. Often people refer to 'first impressions' and intuitions about others, which are
ways of expressing unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is considered to be outside our control though we can take steps to mitigate its effects.
Australia is signatory to the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and a number of International human rights treaties and conventions. These include the:
At the national level, United Nations international instruments are supported by legislation including the:
At the State level, Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984 is the primary legislative vehicle through which to promote equality of opportunity. The Western Australian Disability Services Act 1993 supplements this and national legislation
to ensure that people with disability can access services provided by public authorities in Western Australia.
Two key policies support national and State equal opportunity legislation.
The 2004 ‘Policy Framework for Substantive Equality’ provides a process of continuous improvement through which organisations can progress towards achieving substantive equality and meeting their obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act
1984. Its objective is to achieve substantive equality by eliminating systemic discrimination in the provision of public sector services and promoting sensitivity to the different needs of client groups. The ‘Western Australian Language Services
Policy 2014’ seeks to ensure that in a linguistically diverse community, limited competence in the English language is not a barrier to accessing services. Western Australians who may require assistance to communicate effectively include people
who are Deaf or hard of hearing, Aboriginal peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.