The measurement of cultural diversity in Australia: a brief history

Stream: Measuring wellbeing and data gaps
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 1.35 pm – 3.15 pm


By 2018, 7.3 million people (29%) of Australia’s estimated resident population were born overseas (ABS 2019). Among these people, over 190 different countries of birth have been reported as have over 300 non-English languages spoken at home (ABS 2017). From the early 19th century Australia was measuring aspects of cultural diversity (year of arrival, country of birth and religion) without a coherent national framework until the late 1990’s. After much user demand across all levels of government and academia, a working group comprising of Commonwealth and State Government Departments was established to investigate and develop a framework for the collection and dissemination of nationally consistent data on cultural and language diversity. In early 1999, the working group presented their findings and recommendations to the Ministers Council on Immigration and Multicultural Affairs which were endorsed and are now known as the Statistical Standards on Cultural and Language Diversity.

This presentation will provide an overview of conceptual issues facing policy makers who are trying to understand and measure cultural diversity and migrant populations more broadly in Australia.


Lev Makaev (Presenter), Australian Bureau of Statistics
Dr Lev Makaev is a senior analyst and data integrator in the National Migrant Statistics Unit in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). He is a part of the team that released the first integrated datasets pertaining to permanent migrants and temporary entrants and has been at the forefront of data integration in the ABS. He has worked extensively with stakeholders across all levels of government and the private sector to deliver statistical solutions to meet information and policy needs.