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The language reported by a person as the main language other than English spoken by that person in his/her home (or most recent private residential setting occupied by the person) to communicate with other residents of the home or setting and regular visitors, as represented by a code.


Data Element (this item)


This representation is based on the value domain for this data element, more information is available at " Language code (ASCL 2011) NN{NN} ".
Data Type Number
Format NN{NN}
Maximum character length 4



Health Data Standards Committee

National Community Services Data Committee

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011. Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) 2011. Canberra: ABS. 16/8/2011.


This metadata item is consistent with that used in the Australian Census of Population and Housing and is recommended for use whenever there is a requirement for comparison with Census data.

This data element is important in identifying those people most likely to suffer disadvantage in terms of their ability to access services due to language and/or cultural difficulties. In conjunction with Indigenous status, Proficiency in spoken English and Country of birth this data element forms the minimum core set of cultural and language indicators recommended by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Data on main language other than English spoken at home are regarded as an indicator of 'active' ethnicity and also as useful for the study of inter-generational language retention. The availability of such data may help providers of health and community services to effectively target the geographic areas or population groups that need those services. It may be used for the investigation and development of language services such as interpreter/ translation services.

The ABS Language Standards, 2012, Version 1.1 (cat. no. 1200.0.55.005) was released in September 2012. The recommended question recognises children under two years of age.


Related content

Relation Count
Use within a Question 0
As a numerator in an Indicator 0
As a denominator in an Indicator 0
As a disaggregation in an Indicator 0