Measuring Cultural Diversity
The challenge of collecting appropriate data on cultural diversity to support effective reporting is discussed in some depth in a previous edition of OriginsInsight.
According to the AFL’s own estimate, only 15 per cent of players come from a multicultural background, meaning at least one parent was born overseas. The figure is low compared to Victoria’s 48 per cent with a parent born overseas. However, the AFL’s own estimates of diversity within its lists, and its definition of ‘multicultural’ are open to challenge, because they are largely gathered from its own surveys and anecdotal sources. Ian Syson also questions the measurement basis of AFL’s claims of multicultural representation.
OriginsInfo’s independent and robust name analysis methodology infers the most likely cultural origin of a particular name combination.
Arguably, with the notable exception of Indigenous Australians2, this provides a better representation of multiculturalism than whether a person or one of their parents was born overseas. Inevitably such a measure includes people with New Zealand and British Isles backgrounds who, culturally, are too similar to the dominant host community to be considered culturally diverse.
In the case of the AFL, we collected names of 809 listed AFL players, current as at November 2014. For practical purposes and to ensure statistical reliability, we grouped the 257 Origins categories into a smaller number of groups – Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, North West European, Southern and Eastern European, CALD3 – Non-European.
We compared the proportion of AFL players in those categories with the proportion of the Australian adult population in the same categories. We also compared the current picture with the results we found when we conducted similar research in 2007.
The results give clear evidence of the skewed participation in AFL at the elite level, and explain why the AFL feels that it has a problem in aiming to remain relevant to all sectors of the Australian population. It is immediately apparent that there is a significant over-representation of people with Anglo- Saxon and Celtic heritage (84.8% compared with 67.4% in the wider population).