As Australia navigates the next phase in the fight against COVID, both the public and private sector are placing an increased focus on multicultural communications in order to effectively empower the country’s
culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and conquer COVID confusion.
According to translation and CALD communications agency, Lexigo, both public and private sector businesses have learnt from previous approaches to pandemic messaging and are working closely with community leaders, representatives and organisations to understand linguistic intricacies and effectively engage with empathy.
LEXIGO founder and CEO, Mark Saba (featured image) found that businesses and organisations were engaging the communications agency in order to get messaging out to CALD communities as quickly as possible,
while ensuring high accuracy, and avoiding hesitancy or confusion.
This has also been more recently extended into text, image and video form with options for in-language dubbed audio, along with in-person community support.
“Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of new terms were created or are being added to colloquialisms, such as ‘COVID-safe’, ‘new normal’, ‘social distancing’,” said Saba.
“We now have most of these words translated across the world, where particular languages and countries agree on specific terminology.
“Translating for health emergencies has never been at this scale or speed of change, so we’re finding that clients are now more prepared on how to manage multicultural communications.
“Australia has also seen the government’s establishment of a community engagement panel including national translation and interpreting associations like AUSIT and peak bodies like FECCA, which has been incredibly effective in executing authentic and empathetic in-language communications.
“An example of multicultural communication done well, we have seen the national Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group work closely with the Government
to coordinate and support the evidence-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the launch of grants to effectively engage with multicultural communities.”
Lexigo draws on its team of over 10,000 translators, globally, to reach CALD Australian audiences across 171 languages.
The agency has also been mindful in employing a diverse team with lived experience in the community in approaching COVID-19 messaging for its clients.
“Including community leaders, representatives and organisations has been invaluable in our work throughout the pandemic,” said Saba.
“Other challenges include the naturally diverse nature of the different CALD communities, literacy levels, educational backgrounds, areas people are from, subset communities and the intricacies that can only be addressed through community management, not just translation.”
Lexigo translator, Cecilia Chiu, said community engagement and deep group influence was key in her
work, and amongst her community, in overcoming misinformation (even disinformation) and empowering individuals and communities to make informed decisions on their health and living/work situations.
“Being a CALD person myself, I understand how powerful peer group influence could have been on the community. Once a mindframe has been formed, we will be fighting an uphill battle to get the correct information across,” she said.
Cecilia’s lived experience within the community has meant she understands the challenges, and conversely, experiences the positive impact authentic multicultural communication can have.
“Accurate and accessible COVID information in my language is important for my community as some of them do not read English well; I can point them to where they can obtain official and correct information in a language they are comfortable with,” she added.
Saba said he hopes native language communication becomes an inclusive and transparent process, and an intrinsic part of all organisations’ approach to messaging.
“There’s a lot to be learnt from the businesses and organisations that triumphed during the pandemic; the common goal is to get the message out to everyone, regardless of their culture and language,” he said.
“Fast and accurate translation is important, but even more critical to CALD communication is culture and context, a nuance that is only possible to achieve when delivered by translators with lived experience in-community.
“Often, the team works extra long hours, sometimes into the night and early morning, just to ensure the message gets out to their communities while ensuring high accuracy.
“To me, the translators are the real heroes.”