Immigration and diversity

Australia has a culturally and linguistically diverse population. Migrants bring skills, knowledge and connections to the global economy. But they can face linguistic, structural and cultural barriers to accessing services. People who enter Australia under the Government’s humanitarian program can face additional barriers related to experiences of torture and trauma and low levels of education and English literacy.

The Commonwealth Government manages migration, humanitarian and citizenship policy and programs. All governments have responsibilities to ensure equity of access to services for Australians from all backgrounds, and culturally appropriate service delivery.  

Strategies to ensure equity of access and appropriate services include funding for translation services, working with community-based cultural organisations, and providing cultural awareness training for service staff. Schools can be important hubs for families, teaching English as a second language and providing a network and community connections


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Department Performance Framework

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2015)

Department Performance Framework

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2015)

The Department contracted ARTD to develop a portfolio performance framework. The framework was designed to underpin a systematic and coherent basis of measuring and reporting non-financial departmental performance and to meet new Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) requirements. The project included desktop review of key documents, workshops and consultation with key internal stakeholders. It resulted in a draft framework, template for reporting performance in the first annual performance statement, and an implementation plan for the further development of portfolio wide performance measures. This project has formed the basis from which the Department will report to Parliament and other stakeholders on its performance, and provides the opportunity to link all performance measures used in the Department for strategic alignment, accountability and continuous improvement. 

Evaluation of Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Evaluation of Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Under the NSW Multicultural Policies and Services Program, government agencies and statutory bodies are required to submit multicultural plans to the Community Relations Commission and deliver annual reports on implementation. ARTD evaluated Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s plan for 2010–13. We analysed administrative data and consulted with the agency’s internal and external advisory committees, staff in different regions and representatives of funded services. Our report identified implications for how future plans should be structured, actions to be used to support cultural diversity, implementation supports to be provided, and data required for future evaluation.

Research into the relationship between the department and migration agents

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2013)

Research into the relationship between the department and migration agents

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2013)

The Department is faced with an increasing caseload of visa applicants, a substantial proportion represented by migration agents. One of the avenues the Department identified to deal with the increasing caseload is to improve the application process and interactions with migration agents. ARTD was engaged to conduct research into the relationship between the Department and registered migration agents for three visa categories: employer-sponsored, student and first stage partner visas. Our research used a statistical analysis of applications data for three financial years and an online survey of 236 DIAC service delivery network officers, focused on their interactions with migration agents. The research identified a range of areas for improvement in how DIAC and migration agents interact during lodgement and assessment of applications.

Interviews with Refugee Youth Support Pilot participants

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2013)

Interviews with Refugee Youth Support Pilot participants

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2013)

The Refugee Youth Support Pilot provided unaccompanied humanitarian minors who have received visas to live in Australia with intensive settlement and casework services to support their transition to independent living. ARTD was engaged to interview participants about how the pilot was working for them and to compare this with other current options. ARTD engaged an associate with specialist expertise to advise on the interview approach and provide assistance with gaining ethics approval for the research. Our consultants conducted face-to-face interviews across three states with participants in the pilot and a comparable program. Our findings were a key piece of evidence for the Department’s broader evaluation of the pilot.

Evaluation of settlement support program

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2011-12)

Evaluation of settlement support program

(Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2011-12)

The long-established Settlement Grants program funds community organisations to help newly-arrived humanitarian migrants settle in Australia, targeting those with the greatest needs. ARTD was first engaged to work with departmental stakeholders to develop an evaluation framework for the program. We then undertook a detailed evaluation of the program.

The exploratory design was based on a program logic with a realist orientation. We looked at the targeting of the program, the effectiveness of funded projects, and the suitability of the program settings. We drew on multiple sources of evidence: settlement data, program data, interviews with stakeholders, surveys of grant managers and services, and client interviews. We also undertook ten in-depth case studies at sites around Australia. The evaluation led to recommendations to change program settings and improve performance monitoring.