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Culturally and linguistically diverse, Employment Relations

Employers encouraged to embrace a modern diverse workforce

atWork Australia 3 mins read

Navigating the job market can sometimes be a challenge for those with diverse backgrounds or experiences, whether that’s being born in a country outside of Australia or living with a disability or long-term health condition. atWork Australia recognises the importance of empowering all individuals to find secure and fulfilling work and encourages employers to build a diverse workforce.


Australia has rich cultural diversity – in 2021, 3 in 10 people living in Australia were born overseas, and 1 in 4 spoke a language other than English at home1. However, cultural factors can impact participation in the workforce, with the proportion of Australians with culturally diverse backgrounds on unemployment payments rising from 11% (2020) to 14% (2021)2.


Discrimination and bias also continue to be barriers to employment. Recent research from Pro Bono Australia revealed 88% of surveyed respondents believe racism to be an issue at work, with more than 90% suggesting organisations need to take better action to address it3.


atWork Australia supports all individuals to overcome challenges and secure sustainable work, while also supporting businesses to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. This includes employing people who live with disability or long-term illness who can also struggle to find work.


Eleanor, aged 63, moved from Tokoroa, New Zealand to Cooma, New South Wales, when she was 22 years old. Eleanor lives with a severe mental illness which impacts her ability to secure and maintain long-term meaningful employment, which has restricted her from pursuing her goals and dreams in the past.


Since trying to gain employment in her new country, Eleanor has repeatedly been turned away from jobs, impacting her confidence and happiness within herself. She also experienced mistreatment in a previous role, where she faced verbal abuse and degradation from a manager.


After connecting with her Job Coach at atWork Australia, Narelle, Eleanor built the confidence to confront the toxic environment and ultimately leave her role, later finding a new, more fulfilling job.


“Narelle has been wonderful! She tells me exactly how it is and has guided me through these tough times. She always praises me but doesn’t push me to do things I don’t want to do. She builds me up and she is real,” Eleanor said.


“When she then helped me secure my current role in the retail industry, she was absolutely over the moon for me and gave me such a boost. That is what I needed to keep going and pursue my goals. She made me feel important and a part of a family. She really is my biggest fan.”


Recognising the invaluable contributions that diverse perspectives bring to the workplace, atWork Australia aims to bridge gaps and cultivate an inclusive work environment that reflect the broader picture of our Australian community.


Through services including education and training, cultural awareness, assessment of needs and support services, therapeutical support and employment resources, Australian employers have the tools they need to build modern, diverse workplaces.


To find out more about atWork Australia’s services, please visit:




About atWork Australia

atWork Australia has been delivering employment services on behalf of the Australian Government since 2003. From more than 330 locations around the nation, atWork Australia delivers Disability Employment Services (DES), Workforce Australia and ParentsNext, connecting people and business so both can thrive.

Partnering with more than 3,500 employers across the country, atWork Australia placed 18,400 Australians into meaningful and sustainable employment in 2022, across a diverse range of industries and occupations.



  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. October 2023. Accessed 28 February 2024.
  2. Australian Council of Social Service. Faces of Unemployment 2021. 2021. Accessed 28 February 2024.
  3. Pro bono Australia. Supporting employees from diverse backgrounds. May 2023. Accessed 28 February 2024.
  4. NSW Government. Key facts about NSW. Accessed 28 February 2024.

Contact details:

Tia Orfanidis, SenateSHJ, +61 411 293 583 /


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