Cross-Cultural Programs for Local Government


A personal message from Margaret

Designing and delivering training programs for local government is one of the most interesting challenges for me, of all the sectors that I customise cross-cultural training programs for. Why? I think it's because every council area is so distinct, unique. There is no 'one size fits all'. (Not that there is in any sector, really. I customise all my programs.) Each one is a different size, a different climate, a different population composition, a different history. So while I list a number of programs below that I regularly deliver for local governments around Australia, it's important to bear in mind that these formats are not necessarily the best ones in every situation.

For example, I have recently completed a parcel of short programs for a regional council with a large agricultural immigrant population. Each one was designed for a specific audience for a reason. For example, one was a two-hour community program to inform the local community of the growing diversity of the population and to win support for this growing diversity by explaining how and why this group of people had come to be there. The second program was a three-hour workshop for a group of the local immigrant agricultural workers, relatively new to the area, to welcome them and to address awareness of significant cultural differences that existed between their culture-of-origin and the Anglo-Australian culture that they now found themselves in, differences that were causing both positive and negative perceptions on both sides. This program was delivered with the aid of a professional interpreter. The third program was a one-hour introduction to the challenges created by the new diversity for the customer service staff who were now providing services to people with strong accents or limited English who looked completely different from the customers they were used to serving. All the programs have been deemed a success and the next stage is to implement a 'Living Books' program so that stories may be shared.

I loved being part of this very creative process and designing programs in new configurations based on specific problems that needed to be solved. If these ideas resonate with you and you would like to know more about any of these processes or programs, email me ( or phone me (0409 062 610). I can link you up with the council and you can find out more from them.


Cross-Cultural Skills for Local Government (1-day)

An enjoyable and comprehensive program which can be customised to the individual needs of the different working units within local government: customer service, libraries, environmental health, regulation enforcement, town planning, building regulation, etc. For more details, contact Margaret on 0409 062 610.


Communicating through Professional Interpreters (two hours)

There are times when children, friends or neighbors should not be used as interpreters. Being able to work effectively with professional interpreters is arguably the most important skill a service or product provider needs when providing information/services/products to recently arrived immigrants and refugees who are not yet confident in English.

Communicating through Professional Interpreters (Short Version) provides everything you need to know about how to link up with a professional interpreter on the telephone or on-site, including the NAATI accreditation levels, the theory on conducting effective interviews, plus the opportunity to participate in or witness a real-time interpreter-assisted interview. Learning a new skill is always daunting. This two-hour program makes this skill surprisingly easily accessible to everyone. 


Overcoming Language Barriers (four hours)

Overcoming Language Barriers provides in a four-hour program a practical grounding in the three areas where difficulties are regularly encountered by Anglo-Australians as they interact with their culturally diverse clients, customers and members of the public.

Barrier No 1: no shared language or insufficient shared language. A professional interpreter must be used. This should be a professional interpreter if the information to be communicated has legal implications.

Barrier No 2: accents. The people communicating have considerable shared language (English) but they are having difficulty understanding each other because of different accents.

Barrier No 3: unnecessarily complex language from the English speaker. Many English speakers are unaware of how to simplify their English without sounding patronising.


Margaret Bornhorst is a registered consultant with the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Margaret Bornhorst Cross-Cultural business name of Mango Management & Services Pty Ltd
ABN 81 003 648 342

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