Research Brief: The role of language technologies and government policies to facilitate and support effective multicultural and multilingual crisis communication

In this brief, we highlight the need for teamwork from language experts and policy makers to effectively communicate health information to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the current pandemic as well as be better prepared for future crises.

In highly multicultural and multilingual societies like Australia, effectively communicating health information to vulnerable populations and those who may have low levels of literacy in the official language(s) can be a major challenge. Many stakeholders play an important role in communicating health messages and mitigating risks.

In this brief, we focus on two aspects that are pivotal in effective multicultural crisis communication—language experts and technologies, and government policies concerning crisis management. We review and analyse the literature on language technologies, the role of translation in crisis communication and policy documents concerning disaster, emergency and crisis management in Australia, as well as reflect on the handling of the
public health crisis to date.

Our analyses show that while language professionals and translation technologies can contribute significantly to mitigating health risks and aiding emergency management, relevant policy frameworks do not specifically address how to incorporate this aspect in crisis prevention and management and, thus, hamper the actions taken. We argue that there is a need for multicultural communication to be explicitly addressed in Australian crisis management policies and, crucially, that all stakeholders need to work together to ensure we are better prepared for future crises.

Please download the Research Brief PDF

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