It Is Disappointing That The Australian Census Is Not Translated To Other Languages

It is beyond disappointing to know that The Australian Census which has already been distributed to households in Australia, has ignored CALD communities in Australia where English is not the first language spoken, written and communicated.

An article was published on ABC Australia, asking the question “Why isn’t the census translated into languages other than English?” Particularly at this time where the COVID pandemic has restricted families to get together, those where English is not a language they use to communicate encounter complications in completing the census. This is the example cited in the ABC News Australia article:

Back in Shanghai, Xueli Zhao was a hospital doctor.

Now living alone in a public housing flat in Melbourne’s inner-east, 84-year-old Dr Zhao relies heavily on her children to communicate with various authorities as she is lacking English language skills.

Knowing that census night is coming, Dr Zhao again turned to her daughter Xiaoming Ji for help.

Ms Ji is keen to lend a hand as usual, believing it is a part of her responsibility to look after her elderly mother.

So Ms Ji had to go through the form online with her mother to complete it for her. How annoying is that? How hard is it for the census which is governed by the Commonwealth Government to pay for professional translators to get this done.

Erin Zhao a migrant from China has taken it upon herself to translate the census into Chinese and creating a “how to” guide for those who need it. Many within the Chinese community have expressed their concerns of not being able to complete the census.

And here is the quencher. The ABC approached The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to seek some clarity on why the census is not translated. Their measly excuse is utter trash, saying that it prevents “data quality risks”…

“While we appreciate that this would be beneficial to people whose first language isn’t English, it would be a complex process that creates a risk of incorrect translation,” an ABS spokesperson said.

“The Census questionnaire includes a number of terms and concepts (e.g., dwelling) which are not easily translated, as equivalent terms in other languages can carry different connotations and meanings.”

“This presents a data quality risk as responses may be influenced by that translation.”

Their only solace is that there are resources available which have been translated into 48 or so languages and a hotline with translators – but really this is not good enough and is just laziness on the ABS to have the actual census translated.

By not providing translated census, a huge portion of the CALD communities in Australia have been excluded and there is no access for them to have their voices heard and the stats and data will not have any integrity as it has ignored a huge portion of the communities living in Australia. How is it possible that in this day and age, no translated census is available? ABS – you really can do better.

Disappointing indeed!

Images via ABC News

To read the original article, please click on: Why isn’t the census translated into languages other than English?

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