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Cultural Diversity

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Department of Defence

Culturally & Linguistically Diverse

Key Objective: Increase representation of Australians from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds in Defence to better reflect the Australian community, build an organisation where cultural diversity is respected and valued, and position Defence as an employer of choice for all Australians.


Defence is committed to diversity in the workplace and to creating an inclusive environment that Page 30 of 40 enables all personnel to contribute to achieving Defence’s goals. Defence aims to provide an inclusive working environment that respects, values and utilises the contributions of people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

The definition of “CALD background” can be constituted by ancestry, birthplace, birthplace of parents, religion, language, and year of arrival in Australia. Defence recognises this broader terminology and acknowledges those who may identify within this definition of CALD within the organisation. 

As at 1 December 2018, our data indicates that personnel from a CALD background represent 24.7% of the permanent ADF workforce  and 33.1% of the ongoing Defence APS workforce.

It is recognised that cultural diversity is an asset to an organisation and Defence needs to recognise its capacity to gain from the diversity of its workforce for operational capability. The following specific actions outline a high level approach to creating a supportive, flexible and fair work environment that embraces cultural and linguistic diversity and commits to establishing a workforce that reflects national society.



  • Profile Defence as an employer of choice for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
  • Celebrate cultural diversity in Defence by being actively involved in community cultural events and networks.


  • Implement programs to support the recruitment of Australians from CALD backgrounds.
  • Increase the profile of multicultural Australians in general recruitment marketing and public affairs and develop specific marketing material for people from CALD backgrounds
  • Research factors affecting multicultural recruitment and implement actions to address issues.


  • Employ and promote Defence policies and practices that are inclusive and accommodating of cultural needs and responsibilities.
  • Ensure that Defence provides a flexible and supportive approach to workforce conditions, career management and career pathways.
  • Ensure development and career opportunities are inclusive and do not disadvantage people from CALD backgrounds.


  • Educate and create stronger awareness in Defence about different cultures and religions.
  • Enable flexible work practices to accommodate balance of cultural and family responsibilities and commitments.
  • Ensure the workplace is a safe, inclusive environment where individuals who wish to practise their religion do not feel inhibited or at risk and feel encouraged and supported by the organisation.
  • Celebrate cultural diversity in Defence by being actively involved in cultural events and networks.
  • Foster a fairer, more respectful and inclusive work environment.
  • Recognise, value and leverage from the cultural and linguistic diversity of our workforce.


  • Maintain connections with personnel taking a career break, extended parental leave, study leave break or any other type of extended leave.
  • Employ policies and processes to enable trained previous Defence personnel to return to the organisation.
  • Actively promote and facilitate discharging ADF members transferring into the Reserve force to maintain connection and strengthen the retention of talented/ trained members.


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