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1200.0.55.005 - Language Standards, 2012, Version 1.1  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/09/2012  First Issue
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Contents >> First Language Spoken >> Introduction - FLS

First language Spoken - Introduction





There is a demand for objective data about languages in Australia. Drivers for these data include government policy on language and literacy, which has evolved rapidly over recent years. Key to the policy are English literacy and the economic relevance of language skills, combined with the significance of language to multiculturalism and diversity within Australia. The goals of Australia's language policy emphasise:
    • the importance for all Australians to maintain an appropriate level of written and spoken English
    • the importance of Australians learning languages other than English
    • the maintenance and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages reinforced by the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) policy 'Closing the Gap' and
    • the provision of translating and interpreting services.
Stakeholders for language data include health and education service providers, data collection agencies, government agencies, community groups, academics and private sector organisations. Stakeholder interests relate to methodologies for collecting and classifying language information.

To meet these data needs, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has incorporated language questions into a range of social statistical collections. ABS has developed standards for a number of language variables for use when collecting language data both within and outside the ABS.

The purpose of this First Language Spoken variable is to measure the language a person first spoke rather than the language they could first read or write. To ensure that all relevant languages can be measured, the variable includes sign languages.

Program providers have identified that disadvantage in access and equity to government and community programs and services may be experienced by people in Australia whose first language is not English. Data relating to First Language Spoken may aid as an indicator of deficiency in English language competency and other factors associated with cultural background.

The variable First Language Spoken is one of the standard set of indicators for use in measuring cultural and linguistic diversity. It can be used in conjunction with others in the set to understand cultural and ethnic diversity within Australia. Its implementation in administrative and service settings enables the provision of relevant data to assess, measure and monitor service needs, including access and equity requirements.





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