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dc.contributor.authorWolf, Katharina
dc.identifier.citationWolf, K. 2021. Multicultural Australia – a critical examination of Australia’s COVID-19 communication strategy. In: International Cross-Cultural Communication Conference, 23rd Sep 2021, Bangkok, Thailand (virtual).

Over the past decade(s), multiculturalism has become a defining – and often (outwardly) celebrated - characteristic of many countries around the world. The term ‘multiculturalism’ has a variety of meanings, however, within the context of this paper the focus is on multiculturalism as a synonym for ethnic pluralism. Australia is among those countries that have proactively defined themselves as a proud and successful multicultural society (Australian Government), arguably with a focus on ethnic, as opposed to cultural pluralism. Australia is the home of the world’s oldest continuous culture; Aboriginal Australians are recognised as the world’s oldest civilization. The country’s more recent past is tainted by the its “White Australia” policy, which limited the ethnic and cultural diversity of the immigrant population during much of the 20th century, in an attempt to preserve Australia’s modern British roots and ethno-cultural identity, essentially promoting the maintenance of an Anglo-Celtic influence.

Today, nearly half of Australians were either born overseas (first generation Australians), or one or both parents were born overseas (second generation Australians) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017). At the time of the last census, more than 300 different languages were spoken in Australian homes, with more than one-fifth of Australians speaking a language other than English at home. After English, the most common languages were Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017).

This paper takes a critical look at how Australia’s multicultural identity has been reflected in communication approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on government communication and pandemic related decision making. The author concludes that the nation’s current communication strategy fails to embrace its multicultural identity and indeed associated responsibilities. Communication approaches during the first 18 months of the global pandemic have focussed predominantly on message dissemination via standardised mass-communication models, failing to recognise the importance of trust, engagement of community leaders and culturally specific preferences in terms of media channels, platforms and communication styles.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 2017. ‘Census reveals a fast changing, culturally diverse nation’ (media release). Retrieved from

Australian Government. Nd. ‘Multicultural Australia’. Retrieved from

dc.titleMulticultural Australia – a critical examination of Australia’s COVID-19 communication strategy
dc.typeConference Paper
dcterms.source.conferenceInternational Cross-Cultural Communication Conference
dcterms.source.conference-start-date23 Sep 2021
dcterms.source.conferencelocationBangkok, Thailand (virtual)
curtin.departmentSchool of Management and Marketing
curtin.accessStatusFulltext not available
curtin.facultyFaculty of Business and Law
curtin.contributor.orcidWolf, Katharina [0000-0002-6740-4478]
curtin.contributor.researcheridWolf, Katharina [D-3841-2015]
curtin.contributor.scopusauthoridWolf, Katharina [35087062600]

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