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To the credit of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), extracting data from the Census is so much more user friendly.

As anyone who works with data knows only too well; getting the data is one thing, drawing the right conclusions is another.

I’m reminded of this recently while working with a Victorian based organisation. Without going into minute details, their target audience is women in Victoria 20-70 years (I’ve changed it slightly to protect the innocent). Using Etcom’s data tool, it took seconds to get the top languages spoken by women 20-70 years (below).

Women 20-70yo Vic top languages

Women 20-70yo in Victoria top languages (other than English).

So naturally, I should recommend the top languages like Mandarin, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Arabic etc. Right?

Well, the answer is right and also wrong.

We could look at the data differently, what if I segmented the audience, using Etcom’s data tool, by the number of women in our target age group who claimed to speak English poorly or not at all as at the last Census? The answer is a little different (below).

Women 20-70yo Vic - low Eng

Women 20-70yo in Victoria top languages for low English proficiency.

The priority is a little different, no? If the segmentation is by low English proficiency, then the new top six languages are: Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek, Arabic and Turkish. Italian no longer makes the cut, Turkish does.

But, actually for this campaign, it’s much more critical to reach newer arrivals. So segmenting by recentness of arrival (since 2006), the result is different again.

Women 20-70yo Vic - arrived since 2006

Women 20-70yo in Victoria top languages (other than English) by arrivals since 2006.

Now the top six is Mandarin, Punjabi, Hindi, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Vietnamese – no Italian, Greek, Arabic or Turkish. What this does show, is the very dramatic changes in the source of migration to Australia (and Victoria), lead predominantly by two countries; China and India.

I’ve summarised the top 10 according to the different criteria below. As you can see, apart from Mandarin and possibly Cantonese and Vietnamese, the rankings change rather dramatically.

Top languages spoken by women 20-70yo  in Vic

And the moral of the story?

When it comes to data, make sure you ask the right questions. Luckily we have the data and it takes just seconds to extract using Etcom’s ever so easy to use data tool.

Want to test us out? Email me thang.ngo[at]etcom.com.au with your data question and I’ll see what we can do…┬áTry me.