Belonging can be defined as a sense of belonging. It’s about feeling connected to the community and society in which you live. Belonging not only makes people feel at home, but it can also help people participate in society.
More than 5 million Australians use a language other than English at home, of which 15% have low English proficiency. Almost a third (28%) were born abroad. How do we ensure that they are part of society?
A new report reveals research into the impact of news representation on multilingual audiences’ sense of belonging to wider Australian society. The report used a survey that combined in-person, telephone, and online methods to ask questions to five multilingual groups: Arabic, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
Participation in society through a sense of belonging
The study found that multilingual Australians’ sense of belonging is closely related to their confidence in participating in society. Compared to those who say they don’t fit in, people who feel “at home” in Australia are twice as likely to say they have a good understanding of the political and social issues facing Australia.
In addition, the majority of those who feel at home in Australia agree that they are well informed (71%) and believe their cultural community can have a significant impact on society (71%).
Where does that confidence to participate come from?
We found that time spent in Australia and proficiency in English are both related to belonging.
It seems to take more than 10 years for migrants to find a sense of belonging in Australia; 76% of those who have lived in Australia for more than 10 years feel at home in Australia compared to just 64% of those who arrived less than five years ago. Having a lot of confidence in English is also a factor.
Feeling of belonging through English language skills and length of stay
In addition, the study found that the sense of being represented in the news is strongly related to the sense of belonging of a multilingual audience.
Those who feel reasonably represented in the news will feel much more of a part of Australian society. The majority (86%) of those who feel adequately represented in the news “feel at home”, compared to only 62% of those who feel unrepresented.
This may be because perceptions of news representation promote trust in news. We found that multilingual audiences who feel they are adequately and fairly represented in the news have a much higher level of trust in news than those who feel under- or misrepresented.
Three-quarters (76%) of the multilingual public who think their cultural community is fairly covered in the news say they trust the news. This confidence level drops to 40% if they feel unrepresented.
Sense of belonging through honest news representation
Wrong and under-represented in the media
The problem is that many migrants feel under- or misrepresented in the Australian news.
Only 42% say news in Australia reasonably covers their cultural or language community, while only 38% say there is adequate coverage. Even fewer (33%) say journalists represent people like them in the news. Compared to the general publicwhere more than half (52%) believe that their ethnic group receives reasonable media coverage, this is a much lower figure.
There simply isn’t enough mainstream news coverage that linguistically and culturally diverse Australians can relate to.
a recent research found that 78% of presenters, commentators and reporters had an Anglo-Celtic background. In a survey of Australian journalistswe found that less than a third say there is enough ethnic diversity in their news organization.
Trust Australian news media
These findings suggest that there is room for improved recruiting and reporting practices in the news industry. By providing news that is reliable and representative, news media can help all Australians stay informed. Informed citizens are more likely to participate in social and political issues facing society.
Providing relevant, localized information, including news in languages, that a multicultural audience can relate to is an important way in which the news media can play a role in social cohesion. By reflecting the diverse cultural perspectives and experiences of the public, news media can encourage a greater sense of belonging.