Young and Multicultural: New report series explores remarkable diversity of Victoria’s youth population 

The Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) last Thursday released its latest publication, A Young and Multicultural Victoria: The 2021 Census. This report series explores what the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2021 Census of Population and Housing can tell us about the remarkable diversity of Victoria’s youth population. 

A follow up to CMY’s 2016 Census report, the latest report looks at data captured at a time of unprecedented disruption wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides detailed insights into the experiences of young Victorians from refugee and migrant backgrounds – an incredibly diverse cohort that make up almost half of Victoria’s youth population, yet are often poorly reflected in key data and reporting.  

The report series is broken down into a high-level summary of key findings and five data reports that deep dive into various facets of Victoria’s youth profile, including: 

  • Report 1: Youth Profile 
  • Report 2: Where young people live
  • Report 3: Education, training, and employment  
  • Report 4: Income and housing 
  • Report 5: Health, care, and support  

Launched at an online forum hosted by CMY last week, Senior Policy Officer Edmee Kenny said:  

“The series aims to deepen our understanding of the diverse and ever-changing face of the young and multicultural population who call Victoria home, so that we may create a society where all young people are connected and can reach their full potential.” 

Forum attendees from a range of sectors heard from keynote speaker Dr Brydie Clarke, Executive Director Grants, Youth and Veterans at the Department of Families Fairness and Housing. As Director of the Office for Youth for the past two years, Dr Clarke spoke about Victoria’s approach to improving outcomes for young Victorians and the work being done as part of Victoria’s Youth Strategy.  

A panel of experts then shared their reflections on the future of data collection, as Australia becomes increasingly diverse. Krushandevsinh (Kano) Ravalji, Founder of Third Culture Australia and VMC Youth Commissioner, spoke about the need to strive to look beyond the absolute data.  

“We need to look at data with a bit more of an intersectional lens, I think we need to look at gender, faith, when it comes to multicultural communities, and be at the forefront in bringing that intersectional lens to it.” 

“We also need to look beyond the data. Some of the complexities of data, is that it doesn’t reflect emotions – like how connected are they to culture, what experiences of discrimination have they had, as employees how much of themselves can they bring to the workplace?” 

Jennifer Dobak, Director of Migrant Statistics at the ABS, spoke about the need for inclusive data sets and an understanding of the purpose for which it is being collected.  

“As our culture becomes much more nuanced, with different migrants and different experiences, and subsequent generations born in Australia, we need to realise we are all diverse and need to be inclusive in the way we are capturing data.” 

“Data must be fit for purpose. Why are we collecting it? Can everyone participate in the questions? We owe it to ourselves and communities to understand why we’re collecting that data.” 

Trish Prentice, Senior Researcher at the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute, reflected on research they had conducted on the issue of labelling in relation to cultural identity.  

“Data collection can sometimes create categories that obscure individual difference and obscure intersectionality that is actually really important to the issue at hand.” 

“Using the term diversity, it implies they are different from the mainstream … I want to pose a question to you all: at what point do we no longer need to collect data about cultural identity or cultural background? Is there a point in Australia’s future where we can agree that cultural diversity is the norm?” 

Following the insightful panel discussion, attendees joined facilitated small group discussions to explore the topics in more depth with peers from a range of sectors.  

The remainder of reports in the series will be released over the coming month, offering valuable insights into various facets of the lives of multicultural youth, and informing the design of future programs and policy initiatives that will deliver better outcomes for Victoria’s young people. 

The Executive Summary and first report in the series is now available at: