Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy Guidance

Applying the Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy to NSW Government advertising campaigns.

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The NSW Government seeks to communicate with all people in NSW and ensure equal opportunities to access information.

The NSW Government has maintained a policy requiring all government departments to communicate with multicultural and Aboriginal audiences through advertising campaigns since 1996. 

In December 2023, the NSW Government approved an update to the policy, increasing the campaign expenditure targeting multicultural and Aboriginal audiences from 7.5% to 9% of the total advertising campaign media budget. The updated policy will be implemented from July 2024. 

The policy update considered the following context:

  • NSW is more diverse than ever, and this will only increase. According to the 2021 Census data, 1 in 4 people in NSW now speak a language other than English at home, and the figure increases to 1 in 3 people for Sydney residents.
  • Crisis scenarios have emphasised vulnerabilities in effectively communicating with all NSW communities. Over the past few years, bushfires, COVID-19, and floods have demonstrated the need and urgency to communicate with multicultural and Aboriginal audiences quickly and efficiently.
  • It is imperative to communicate with residents in their preferred language to ensure equal access to information particularly for government programs and services, legislative changes, and health and safety messages. 

The updated NSW Government Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy

The policy aims to ensure multicultural and Aboriginal audiences are considered in all NSW Government advertising campaigns. 

The change in policy will enable government messages to reach more communities and should boost support to multicultural and Aboriginal media outlets. 

The NSW Government Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy requires that:

  • at least 9% of an advertising campaign media budget is to be spent on direct communications to multicultural and Aboriginal audiences.
  • spend may be on advertising (paid media) or non-advertising communications activities, for example, events, public relations.
  • the spend under the policy does not include the costs for creative, production of paid media assets, translation, or research.

Applying the policy

Campaign research, data, objectives and messages should determine the multicultural audiences targeting and communications approach. In some instances this may be audience segments with lower English proficiency or broader community selection based on geographic location or population size. 

The Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy sets the minimum required spend from the media budget at 9%. The policy encourages departments to exceed the minimum, where appropriate based on the target audiences’ needs and the campaign objectives.

All campaign and non-campaign media planning and buying is currently managed by the NSW Government’s contracted media agency OMD. OMD will collaborate with government agencies to meet the policy though planned media in all campaigns.

DCS will also continue to review and monitor how agencies meet the policy through the peer review and approval of advertising campaigns.

Media spend intended for interstate or international audiences is exempt from the policy.

Non campaign advertising spend (including recruitment advertising and public notices) is exempt from the policy.

Methods to quantify costs of below the line activities, for example, Aboriginal community engagement staff members within government, media press conferences, posters and flyers distributed to local council, have been investigated to explore whether these costs can be applied as part of the policy. As the range of below the line activities is extensive, there is currently no one size fits all that will enable accurate quantification of these costs to apply as part of the policy. 

Selecting audiences for advertising activity

The 9% minimum spend can be applied flexibly to multicultural and Aboriginal audiences, depending on the campaign objectives. This may mean a higher spend on communications to multicultural audiences, or to Aboriginal audiences, as applicable.

Advertisers should consider whether reach or frequency is the priority according to campaign objectives and plan accordingly. Where campaign objectives do not specify otherwise, it is recommended to reach more communities with light weight media investments, for example, 7 to 10 languages with fewer media placements rather than 1 to 5 with heavier weight media placements. 

High English proficiency in a certain community does not remove this community’s need for tailored multicultural communications. Consider the audiences’ preferred language and media consumption behaviour rather than focusing only on English proficiency. Bilingual speakers are also consumers of community media channels whether it is in-language or in English. 

Advertising (paid media) channel selection

Four types of paid media channels for reaching multicultural and Aboriginal audiences are recommended:

  1. independent community press and radio
  2. other community specific channels and platforms
  3. non-community specific channels that allow targeting specific communities
  4. partnerships. 

It is recommended to have a healthy mix of traditional and digital channels depending on the audience and campaign objectives. Where campaign objectives do not otherwise dictate, it is recommended independent community specific press and radio channels may be prioritised, as supporting these channels supports local multicultural communities directly. 

Advertising (paid media) channel options

Independent community specific press and radio
  • radio
  • press
  • National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council (NEMBC)  
  • Koori press and radio 
  • First Nations radio stations
  • Blakcast (FN specific podcasts).
Other community specific channels
  • multicultural television including SBS
  • NITV
  • multicultural digital audio
  • SBS radio
  • multicultural display networks online
  • multicultural and Aboriginal websites (press, radio, forums, blogs)
  • Weibo, WeChat, Little Red Book and other multicultural social platforms
  • multicultural video streaming platforms including iQIYI, Youku, Zee5, Tencent Video
  • Tonic Media
  • AHTV.
Non-community specific channels
  • social media platforms including Meta
  • YouTube and video streaming platforms
  • out-of-home targeting areas highly indexed to multicultural communities, including mainstream formats (bus shelters, shopping centres) and niche formats such as multicultural health and grocery stores
  • digital audio including Spotify
  • additional relevant digital environments with language-based targeting.
  • community ambassadors accessed through specialist communications agencies
  • paid arrangements with relevant organisations, for example, multicultural networks, community organisations, sporting organisations and/or local community channels to carry government messages.

Below-the-line channel options

Paid media may not be available in the market to target all multicultural communities, particularly for new and emerging communities. In addition to advertising (paid media) channels, agencies could consider engagement with key community leaders and organisations. Large and influential distribution networks and channels provide an opportunity to amplify messaging.

When using media releases to distribute information, also consider paid advertising as this supports local communities directly.

Using specialist communications suppliers (non-media planning and buying) 

It is recommended to use advertising suppliers that specialise in communicating with Aboriginal and multicultural communities wherever possible.

Department of Customer Service manages the Advertising and Digital Communication Prequalification Scheme and specialist suppliers can be found by filtering by SCM2701 on the Supplier Search page or by accessing the CSV Supplier List.

The Aboriginal Procurement Policy encourages departments to consider utilising any Aboriginal  owned creative, research or production agency even if they are not on the scheme. A directory of verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses can be found at Supply Nation.

Reaching multicultural and Aboriginal audiences in regional communities 

Multicultural communities are growing in regional NSW and Aboriginal communities have strong presence in regional areas. 

When designing communications for regional NSW, review demographic data and research to guide you in selecting the multicultural and/or Aboriginal audiences relevant for regional campaigns with advice and analysis from OMD.


If you have any questions relating to the Multicultural and Aboriginal Advertising Policy and communicating to the multicultural and Aboriginal audiences, please email: 

If you require advice about how to best target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences in NSW, please email Aboriginal Affairs NSW: 

For further information on how to engage with multicultural communities, please email: 

Best practice resources and guidelines

For best practices in designing communications to Multicultural communities see MNSW Multicultural communications playbook.

For best practices and resources on translation see MNSW language services hub and NSW Government language services guidelines.

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