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Households are classified as having a main language other than English spoken at home if the primary language of communication between residents and regular visitors is one other than English (including sign language)1. Having a main language other than English spoken at home can be an indicator of lower English proficiency and understanding1.

In Australia, having low English proficiency and understanding can limit a person’s ability to effectively participate in society (including accessing support, social networks, and services), which affects all members of the household and is a social determinant of health1,2. Further, people who speak a main language other than English can be reluctant to access health services due to cultural difference, experiences or perceptions of discrimination and concerns about misunderstanding, leading to disparities in health3.

Children from culturally and linguistically diverse households can also have lower school readiness than their peers because of lower English proficiency in learning or conversation and increased vulnerability to bullying4. School readiness is extremely important due to its association with ongoing academic achievement and life outcomes4.

Therefore, geographical areas that have a high proportion of households speaking a main language other than English in the home can be understood as vulnerable to having poorer child development outcomes. Accordingly, information about home language statistics and child development can be used to help policy makers understand where extra resources may be required to ensure children from culturally and linguistically diverse households have appropriate resources and services to support good health and development.


  1. Australian Bureau of statistics [Internet]. Canberra ACT. Main Language Other Than English Spoken at Home, Language Standards 2016. August 2016 [cited 2018 Jun 19], cat. no. 1200.0.55.005 [Internet]. Available from:
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [Internet]. Canberra ACT. Australia’s Health 2016; Australia’s Health Series no. 15. Cat. no. AUS 199. 2016 [cited 2018 Jun 11]. Available from:
  3. Sanagavarapu P, Perry B. Concerns and expectations of Bangladeshi parents as their children start school. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 2005; 30(3):45. Available from:
  4. Henderson S, Kendall E. Culturally and linguistically diverse peoples’ knowledge of accessibility and utilisation of health services: Exploring the need for improvement in health service delivery. Australian Journal of Primary      Health, 2011; 17(2):195-201. Available from:

Data Source 

Compiled by Telethon Kids Institute based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing


Selected age group who don't speak English well or not at all


Total persons for selected age group

Unit of Measure 

Per cent (%)



Data Confidentiality

The ABS applies small random adjustments to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from the table totals.