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Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities

Barriers to access

Victoria is the most culturally and linguistically diverse state in Australia, with more than 260 languages and 135 different faiths represented in the Victorian community. More than a quarter of Victorians were born overseas, and nearly half were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. Just under a third of Victorians speak a language other than English at home. This cultural and linguistic diversity is a great strength of our state, but members of CALD communities often don’t enjoy equal access to information and opportunity (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008.0 – Census of population and housing: nature and content, Australia, 2016).

The Library’s audience

Victoria’s cultural diversity is reflected in the Library’s visitor demographics as identified in the 2016 annual intercept survey: more than 60 per cent of our onsite visitors were born outside of Australia and over half speak a language other than English at home, with Mandarin and Cantonese at 24 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Approximately 30 per cent of Library visitors are students, with international students making up 48 per cent of this cohort.

The Library and government

Victoria’s commitment to multicultural communities, firmly establishing the principles and benefits of multiculturalism and identifying the need to reduce disadvantage, has been formalised in legislation including:

  • Multicultural Victoria Act 2011
  • Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • the recently released policy statement, Victorian. And proud of it.

Under the Multicultural Victoria Act, the Library is responsible for delivering and reporting on our efforts to provide equitable and responsive services, collections and programming to meet the needs and aspirations of Victoria’s diverse communities.


We curate exhibitions and programs in collaboration with targeted communities, including from CALD backgrounds.


Over the next three years we will work to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and aspirations of CALD audiences through research and community consultation, continuing to seek out new opportunities to celebrate and promote Victoria’s cultural diversity.