OriginsInfocus December 2014

Collecting Data on Cultural Background

Commercial and public sector organisations alike recognise the opportunity for more effective engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community segments – whether as customers, public service clients, or employees. But the common refrain is that there is a shortage of data to maximise the advantages.

Logistic, reliability and management difficulties in accurately recording a person’s culture through surveys and forms, as well as more onerous privacy restrictions and uncertain cost, mean that most organisations shun the opportunity to collect data that will support measurement and management of CALD customers.

Our OriginsInsight piece describes how the use of Origins solves this issue by using names as an accurate surrogate for cultural background that fully complies with privacy requirements. 

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Measuring Cultural Diversity of Elite Participants in Selected Australian Sports - White Paper

OriginsInfo has just published a significant white paper which analyses some of the most popular sports in Australia and how well its athletes reflect the diversity of the general Australian population. This groundbreaking research, which builds on a similar OriginsInfo study undertaken in 2007, reveals which sports have increased in culturally diverse participation, and which backgrounds are over or under-represented.

Australians love sport. It’s part of our national psyche. We tend to be good at it – often punching above our weight. There are some sports that are more popular with Australians than others. These include the three major football codes - AFL, NRL, and FFA -together with swimming, cricket, endurance cycling and tennis. Athletes of these sports are often viewed as celebrities and seen as role models. 

We analyse these seven sports to determine how well our sports people reflect the broader Australian population. Do persons from CALD backgrounds have role models that reflect their own background, values and culture?  Many sports, such as the AFL and NRL, have implemented programs that actively encourage diverse participation. Are they working? Using name analysis through OriginsInfo’s robust name database, this white paper provides insight and data to answer these questions. 

Case in Point: Going Green in Maribyrnong

Green waste collection is an opt-in fortnightly collection service for residents in the City of Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s inner west. Council wanted to understand if there were cultural dimensions to the take-up of the service with a view to targeting particular communities with culturally-relevant communications to promote the service.  

The approach was to ‘tag’ current subscribers by using the Origins name recognition software, and then to compare the profile with the profile of the Maribyrnong community, also profiled using the Origins solution. Prior to doing so, we validated the Origins profile of Maribyrnong with results from the ancestry question on the 2011 census. Given that each is measuring cultural background in a different way, there was a broad alignment between the two that was certainly sufficient to justify the use of Origins.

Maribyrnong is one the most culturally diverse local government areas in Australia and, when compared with Australia as a whole, has a significantly lower proportion of people with an Anglo-Celtic background. At more than 12 percent, Maribyrnong also has one the highest concentrations of people with a Vietnamese background.


Current green waste subscribers are significantly weighted towards people of an Anglo-Celtic background. Almost 63 percent of subscribers are of an Anglo-Celtic background although they only comprise 38 percent of the Maribyrnong population.

By comparing the relative percentages, we find that a person with an Anglo-Celtic name is 15.6 times as likely to be a green waste subscriber as a person with a South Asian (mainly Indian and Sri Lankan) background, and almost five times as likely as a resident with an East Asian name.

Combining people with Anglo-Celtic background with those originating in North West Europe shows that they are 5.2 times as likely to be green waste subscribers as people from non-European CALD backgrounds.

Insight gained from this work will facilitate greater efficiency in Maribyrnong’s communication strategy, thereby minimising costs through better targeted communications.  

The pay-off from increasing the take-up of subscribers is substantial. The potential cost savings and environmental benefits of minimising the amount of waste going to landfill are significant. Tipping costs of around $3.7m in the current year and the burden of the Environmental Protection Authority landfill levy increase from $9 per ton to $53.24 per ton since 2008, provide every incentive for Maribyrnong to optimise the management of green and recyclable waste.

Furthermore, organic waste in landfills is a substantial contributor to greenhouse emissions. This is because anaerobic conditions below ground produce methane which creates 21 times the emissions per tonne compared with carbon dioxide. Reducing the amount of organic waste significantly cuts emissions contributing to the CO2 reduction goals of Council.

Workplace Diversity PowerPoint Pack

OriginsInfo has developed a unique resource for organisations to use to measure and benchmark cultural diversity in the workplace. With workplace diversity being hailed by research as a key determinant of sales revenue, customer numbers and profitability, implementing a strong diversity strategy is of increasing importance to organisations. Download the pack here.

Origins in the News

Origins has been used to analyse the cultural backgrounds of high achieving students in the 2013 HSC examinations with some fascinating results with significant implications for the future workplace. Two related articles were published. The first identifies and quantifies that students with an Asian background are significantly more likely to achieve honours results in the HSC examination.  The second looks at a range of factors contributing to high ATAR achievement. We will feature more in a future newsletter.

High Time to Crack the Bamboo Ceiling?

Following hot on the heels of recent research publications from Diversity Council Australia, a recent article claims that, despite academic and social success, Australia’s Asian communities are under-represented in Australian political and public life.

The article in Melbourne Voice, the University of Melbourne’s monthly publication distributed with The Age newspaper, announces a new research project at the University that aims to document Asian-Australian experiences in public life and examine the factors preventing greater participation of Asian-Australians in politics, the professions and academia.



Inspirational Diversity Quotes

Just as the natural environment depends on biodiversity, so the human environment depends on cultural diversity, because no one civilisation encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind. 
Jonathan Sacks
Looking for an inspirational quote to hang above your computer? You may just find it here.

Naming Traditions of Africa

African names are bound in meaning and inference, with which their personal identity is closely connected. Therefore great consideration is given to select an appropriate name for a newborn child. 

Challenging the Culture of Acquisition vs Retention

The cost of acquiring a new customer is four, six or ten times the cost of retaining an existing customer, depending on which formulae you use. But that’s just one reason for holding onto your customers. Find out the others here.

Christmas in Japan

Despite less than 1% of the Japanese population identifying as Christian, Christmas in Japan looks rather similar to Christmas in Australia. Except maybe for the long lines at KFC on Christmas Eve.
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