CLASS data quality profile: 'main language spoken at home'
This month, we're excited to showcase an example from our national data quality improvement project. The chart below shows the ‘Main Language Spoken at Home’ by clients of centres that use CLASS for reporting. This is one of the fields we use to work out how many of the sector's clients come from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
2016 Census data (column 1 below), shows that 21 percent of people living in Australia spoke a language other than English at home. By comparison, between 2019 and 2021, about 14 percent (on average) of community legal centre clients spoke a language other than English at home. Our data shows a slight downward trend in the numbers of our clients who speak a language other than English at home during this period (columns two to four below). Otherwise, the average has remained relatively constant.
However, the chart also shows that each year, roughly 16 percent of the data on clients' main language spoken at home is missing in CLASS (represented by the 'blank value' segment in columns two to four). This means there's a risk our data under-represents the number of people we support who speak a language other than English at home.
Reducing the blank values and improving data quality is critical if we want to accurately reflect the services we provide to people from CALD communities. As part of a future project to improve the quality of our national dataset, CLCA will remove the 'blank value' option in CLASS. ‘Unknown’ will remain a valid option to be used only when data entry personnel truly do not know the main language a person speaks at home.
Improving the accuracy and quality of our data on clients from CALD communities will help the sector ensure client services and funding are tailored to meet the needs of this important demographic.
If you have any feedback or data insights on CALD fields that, you would like to share with us please contact: Upama Shrestha or join the Data Peer forum (link below).