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Inclusive Language Guidelines

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) The University of Newcastle is committed to fostering an inclusive culture. That commitment is contained in its Equity and Diversity Plans.

(2) Consistent with its values, the University resolves that its core activities, its teaching and learning, research, and creative endeavour, and its own management and service practices, will foster and reflect an inclusive culture, free from discrimination and sensitive to the richness that diversity offers (Draft Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy, January 2006).

(3) Integral to the development of an inclusive culture is the use of non-discriminatory/inclusive language. Your choice of words and use of language are thus important elements in reflecting and building such a culture.

(4) The University has developed these guidelines to assist members of the University to use non-discriminatory language. These Guidelines aim to encourage staff and students at the University of Newcastle to think actively about the language they use. They also provide practical examples on how to make language inclusive and how to avoid discriminatory language.

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Section 2 - Language as a Vehicle for Discrimination

(5) Language both reflects and shapes social reality. Language is a major vehicle for the expression of prejudice or discrimination. Discriminatory language devalues or demeans individuals or groups of people. It is therefore both a symptom of, and a contributor to, the unequal social status of women, people with disabilities, and people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.

(6) Some of the major forms of discriminatory language are described below.

Extra-visibility or Emphasis on Difference

(7) In many contexts it is quite unnecessary to mention a person's sex, race, ethnic background, religion or disability. Yet these characteristics are often mentioned when describing members of minority groups. Thus for example, reference may be made to a "male nurse" or a "female engineer"; a "Muslim student" or a "Black police officer". This unnecessary detail tends to give emphasis to a particular characteristic, creating the impression that

  1. the characteristic is somehow relevant; and/or that
  2. the person referred to is somehow unusual or odd.


(8) A stereotype is a generalised and relatively fixed image of a person or persons belonging to a particular group. This image is formed by isolating or exaggerating particular features - physical, intellectual, cultural, occupational, personal, and so on - which are then used to define or characterise the group. Stereotypes are discriminatory in that they ignore a person's individuality. They are also misleading. Although they may reflect elements of truth, they offer descriptions that are oversimplified and therefore inaccurate. The status of minority groups in society is often adversely influenced by prevailing stereotypes of them. Thus Indigenous people can be collectively dismissed as "lazy" or lacking motivation, and blonde women described and dismissed as "brainless".

Derogatory Labelling

(9) Labels which are attached to members of minority groups to discredit or disparage them, are often so clearly discriminatory e.g. "whingeing poms", that they are not taken seriously. However, their use must be challenged and avoided if language is to be inclusive.

Imposed Labelling

(10) Often the names and labels by which members of minority groups are known - whether derogatory (dole bludger) or not (heroic wheelchair athlete) - have been imposed on them. Members of these groups often lack the power to define themselves. Imposed labelling may therefore be alienating as well as inaccurate. It is not inclusive.

(11) Language is not fixed and static but is constantly evolving and changing as society's attitudes and practices change. Be aware of the development of new forms of expression that seek to describe our diverse society in discriminatory or non-discriminatory ways. Examples of shifts in language use within Australia are the decline in the use of terms to describe European immigrants e.g. "wogs" and the emergence of derogatory labels for people from Asian countries or more recently people of Muslim background e.g. "scarfheads".

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Section 3 - Language, Sex and Gender

(12) Sexist language is language that expresses bias in favour of one sex and thus discriminates against the other. Traditionally the bias has been in favour of men and against women. Any language that discriminates against women by not adequately reflecting their role, status and presence in society is sexist.

Forms of Sexist Language

(13) Some of the major forms of sexist language are described below.


(14) Women are often invisible in language. This is due to the use of the masculine pronouns 'he', 'him', 'his' to refer to both men and women, and the use of 'man' as a noun, verb or adjective in words such as 'mankind', 'man made'. Where these terms are never varied to include reference to women, the absence / unimportance of women is reinforced. Alternatives are needed if language is to challenge the implication that women are either absent or less important.


(15) Language is sometimes used to suggest that in certain roles women are inferior to men. Expressions such as 'female engineer' and 'woman academic' tend to diminish the importance of the role that is being described and focus attention on the gender of the person - implying that the person is not simply an engineer or academic, but a special (read inferior/odd) version of one of those. If men are referred to simply by their profession – rather than e.g. male engineer or male academic - why shouldn't women? As women enter and succeed in areas traditionally seen as male dominated, such assumptions will be weakened. However, the unnecessary mention of gender needs to be challenged if language is to be inclusive.

(16) The use of 'feminine' suffixes such as 'ette', 'ess', 'ienne' and 'trix' as in ‘actress’ rather than ‘actor’ , have the same effect. They too are unnecessary and demeaning in that they may imply that the woman is less entitled to recognition as the professional that she is, than her male counterpart.


(17) Language can be used to trivialise women and their activities, actions and occupations through expressions such as 'just a housewife'. The simple omission of 'just a', can remove this demeaning of the role. Women and their role can also be trivialised by describing them predominantly in terms of the roles of 'wife' or 'mother', or referring to their physical attributes when this is not appropriate in the context e.g. "the young blond wife of the Chief Executive". Note the contrast in descriptions of the man and woman.

Strategies for Avoiding Sexist Language

(18) There are a number of alternatives to the sexist language described above. The following practices will ensure that language is inclusive.

Use Alternatives for 'Man'

(19) The word 'man' is ambiguous as it can mean either human being or male human being. Try to find alternatives for using 'man' as a generic term:

Instead of - Use -
man humans, human beings, humankind, man and woman, women and men, the individual
mankind humanity, human beings, the human race, people, human kind
the best man for the job the best person for the job, the best woman or man for the job, the best candidate for the job
the man in the street the average person, ordinary people, people in general
man of letters, men of science scholar, academic, scientists
manpower workforce, personnel, the staff, human resources, workers
manmade artificial, constructed, fabricated, handmade, manufactured

Avoid the Use of 'Man' as a Verb:

Instead of - Use -
We need someone to man the desk We need someone to staff the desk/attend to the desk
manning the office staffing the office
She will man the phones She will attend to phone calls, answer the phones, operate the phones.


Avoid the generic use of words that contain 'man':

Instead of - Use -
sportsmanlike fair, sporting
workmanlike skilful, efficient

Find Alternatives to 'He' and 'His'

(21) Since English does not possess a singular, sex-indefinite pronoun, the pronouns 'he', 'his' and 'him' are frequently used as generic pronouns. As this use is both ambiguous and excludes women, try to find alternatives. In some instances it is easy to restructure the sentence to avoid the pronoun. In others, you may be able to make the sentence plural – as in the example below. Where this is awkward, the Macquarie Student Writers Guide suggests simply using the plural pronoun even when a single person is referred to.

The student may exercise his right to appeal. He should do so before the date advised. The student may exercise his or her right to appeal. He or she should do so before... The student may exercise her/his right to appeal... She / he should do so before the date advised. (This alternative is restricted to written language and can be cumbersome even there).
Please note that the use of s/he is not recommended as it may cause grammatical difficulties).
Students may exercise their right to appeal. They should do so before the date advised. The student may exercise the right to appeal before the date advised.
You may exercise your right to appeal. You must do so before the date advised. The right to appeal may be exercised by students before the date advised.

Avoid Personifying Inanimate Objects

(22) The pronoun 'it' should be used to refer to inanimate nouns such as those designating countries, ships, cars and aircraft.

Vary Word Order

(23) Men usually precede women in expressions such as men and women, his and hers, him and her, he and she, Sir or Madam, etc. Try reversing the word order in these expressions: women and men, hers and his, her and him, she and he, Madam or Sir, etc. Such a practice simply challenges the established order, reminding the reader of the equality of men and women rather than reinforcing – even subliminally – the perception that men are more important than their female counterparts.

Use Alternatives for Sex-specific Occupation Terms

(24) The greater presence of women in a whole range of occupations makes it desirable to seek alternative forms and titles in order to avoid the impression that these positions are male-exclusive. It is important to be consistent in your use of alternative occupation terms, and to avoid using them only or mainly when the incumbent is a woman.

chairman chair, convenor, co-ordinator
headmaster, headmistress principal
policeman police officer, policeman, policewoman
businessman business person, business executive, entrepreneur OR businesswomen and men (spoken language only)
layman layperson, non-professional, non-specialist
groundsman gardener, groundsworker, landscaper

(25) Avoid using occupational titles containing the 'feminine' suffixes -ess, -ette, -trix, -ienne. These often have trivialising or negative connotations and convey the idea that women are deviations from a male norm. If it is important to specify the sex of the person, the adjective 'female' or 'male' can be used in conjunction with the non-sexist term.

actress actor
executrix executor
authoress author, writer
comedienne comedian
waitress waiter
usherette usher, attendant
air hostess flight attendant

(26) Generic terms such as doctor, lawyer, academic, administrator, secretary, should be assumed to apply equally to a man or a woman. Expressions such as 'male secretary', 'lady lawyer', 'woman academic' should be avoided in contexts where the reference to a person's sex is irrelevant. If sex specification is necessary, the use of the adjectives 'female' and 'male' before the non-sexist noun is to be preferred.

Use Appropriate Titles and Other Modes of Address

(27) The inappropriate use of names, titles, salutations and endearments create the impression that women merit less respect or less serious consideration that men do. Titles and modes of address should be used consistently, and in a parallel fashion, for women and men:-

Albert Einstein and Mrs Mead Dr Einstein and Dr Mead, Albert Einstein and Margaret Mead
Ms Clark and John Howard Helen Clark and John Howard
Prime Minister Clark and Prime Minister Howard

(28) It has become more common for women to keep their birth name after marriage or revert to it after divorce. Hyphenated surnames or double names are also increasingly used by married women. Care should be taken that a woman, like a man, is addressed by the name which she prefers.

(29) It is particularly important in a university environment to ensure that people's qualifications are accurately reflected in their title, and that women's and men's academic titles are used in a parallel fashion.

Judy Smith, Dr Nguyen Professor Smith, Dr Nguyen
Judy Smith, Quang Nguyen

Use of Ms, Mrs, Miss, Mr

(30) 'The titles 'Miss' and 'Mrs' not only identify the person addressed as a woman but reveal her marital status, whereas the use of 'Mr' merely identifies that person as a man. The use of 'Ms' is recommended for all women when the parallel 'Mr' is applicable, and 'Ms' should be used when a woman's title of preference is unknown. A woman's preference of title should be respected when known.

Avoid Patronising Expressions

(31) It is important to recognise and avoid language that trivialises or denigrates women. Members of both sexes should be represented as whole human beings and treated with the same respect, dignity and seriousness. Use the words 'man'/'woman', 'girl'/'boy', 'gentleman'/'lady' in a parallel manner: Referring to adult women as 'girls' in a context where male adults are described as 'men' is inappropriate.

The girls in the office The secretaries, administrative assistants
Ladies Women (except when used in a parallel manner with gentlemen)
My girl will take care of that immediately. My assistant will take care of that immediately.

(32) Avoid offensive and patronising colloquialisms such as 'sheilas', 'birds', 'bimbos' and 'jocks'.

(33) Avoid using endearments such as 'luv', 'dearie' for women who are unknown to you or in situations that do not call for intimacy. 'Madam' or 'Sir' can be substituted if the person addressed is unknown.

Avoid Sex-role Stereotyping

(34) Avoid assumptions about people based upon sex-role stereotyping.

Lecturers have wives and children to support. Lecturers have families to support.
We are looking for an administrator who is his own man. We are looking for an administrator with a sense of independence and integrity.

Avoid Sexist Descriptions

(35) If men and women have similar personalities, parallel language should be used to describe them. Avoid the use of stereotyped generalisations about men's and women's characters and patterns of behaviour. Particular care should be taken in describing women and men who do not fit the female or male stereotype.

strong men and domineering women strong men and women, domineering men and women
assertive men and aggressive women assertive women and men, aggressive men and women
angry men and hysterical women angry men and women, hysterical men and women
The student's behaviour was typically female. The student's behaviour was …. (specify the behaviour).

(36) Avoid irrelevant references to a woman's physical appearance. It should also be noted that references to a woman's marital or parenting status are generally irrelevant in contexts where her professional role or capacity are being described.

Avoid Sexist 'Humour'

(37) Sexist 'jokes' are offensive to many people and should be avoided.

Represent Women and Men in Case Materials and Illustrations Appropriately

(38) When selecting examples, case studies and visual material and when using illustrations, ensure that both men and women are represented and shown in a variety of roles.

Treat Sexist Material Carefully

(39) When quoting sources that use sexist language, use [sic] after the sexist word or phrase, thus calling attention to the fact that this form of words is used in the original.

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Section 4 - Language and Disability

(40) The portrayal of people with disabilities has been fraught with contradictions because of ambivalent attitudes towards disability. People with disabilities have often been described as helpless people to be pitied and cared for. Because people are often uncomfortable or embarrassed about disability, many euphemisms have been created to describe disability and people with disabilities.

Linguistic Portrayal of People with Disabilities

(41) Discriminatory language in relation to the portrayal of people with disabilities is characterised by derogatory labelling, by depersonalising, by emphasising the disability rather than the person, and by stereotyping.

Derogatory Labelling

(42) The discriminatory nature of derogatory labels used to describe members of minority groups is often obvious. However, in the case of people with disabilities, labels such as 'cripple', 'mongoloid', 'deaf and dumb', or 'retarded' are still used, and should be avoided. Some acceptable alternatives for such labels are 'person with a mobility impairment', 'person with Down's Syndrome', 'person with hearing and speech disabilities’, 'person with an intellectual disability'.

Depersonalising or Impersonal Reference

(43) Often people with a disability are referred to collectively as the disabled, the handicapped, the mentally retarded, the blind, the deaf, or paraplegics, spastics, epileptics etc. These terms have the effect of depersonalising the description of people and equating the person with the disability. These impersonal references to people with disabilities should be avoided. The following terms are generally preferred as they recognise that the disability is only one characteristic of the person or persons:

  1. person with a disability
  2. people with disabilities
  3. students/employees with disabilities.

(44) If it is necessary or desirable to be more specific about the type of disability involved, the same strategy is recommended - that is, not to focus entirely on the person's disability in the description. Do not put the disability first and the person second. The following are some commonly used phrases and suggested alternatives:-

Instead of - Use -
the disabled / the handicapped / disabled people people with disabilities
the physically handicapped people with physical disabilities
a paraplegic, paraplegics people with paraplegia
an epileptic a person with epilepsy
the deaf people who are deaf / hearing impaired /people who have a hearing disability
a spastic disabled people / a person with cerebral palsy
wheelchair bound, cripple A person using a wheelchair.

(45) If it is appropriate to refer to a person's disability, choose the correct terminology for the specific disability. For example:

  1. people who are blind / have a sight disability / are vision impaired (depending upon the degree of impairment); mobility impaired;
  2. people with, or who have, cerebral palsy; Down's Syndrome; a mental illness; an intellectual disability; paraplegia; quadriplegia; epilepsy; a speech impairment; and
  3. the use of imprecise terms such as ‘vertically challenged’, 'physically challenged', 'differently abled', and other euphemisms for people with disabilities, is strongly discouraged.


(46) The portrayal of people with disabilities as helpless, mindless, suffering beings deserving the sympathy and attention of the non-disabled is one of many powerful stereotypes which has led and continues to lead to discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities. People with disabilities should be portrayed in a positive manner.

(47) Positive portrayal of people with disabilities is mainly a matter of presenting them as individuals with a variety of qualities. It does not mean that a person's disability should be hidden, ignored or seen as irrelevant. However, it should not be the focus of description except when the topic is disability.

(48) Be careful not to imply that people with disabilities are to be pitied, feared or ignored, or that they are somehow more heroic, courageous, patient or 'special' than others. Never use the terms 'normal' or 'able-bodied' in contrast.

(49) Never use the terms 'victim' or 'sufferer' to refer to a person who has or has had an illness, disease or disability. These terms dehumanise the person and emphasise powerlessness. For example:

victim of AIDS or AIDS sufferer people who are HIV positive / a person who has AIDS
polio victim a person who had polio

(50) A person in a wheelchair is a 'wheelchair user' or 'uses a wheelchair'. Avoid terms that define the disability as a limitation, such as 'confined to a wheelchair', or 'wheelchair bound'.

Confusing Disability and Impairment

(51) The World Health Organisation defines disability and impairment as follows:

disability any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered usual for a human being.
impairment any loss or dysfunction of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.

Disability and 'Humour'

(52) Discriminatory 'jokes' about people with disabilities  are offensive to many people, and should be avoided.

Representation of People with Disabilities in Case Materials and Illustrations

(53) It is important to extend the non-discriminatory portrayal of people with disabilities to their presentation in case materials and illustrations. For example, people with disabilities should not be excluded from illustrations unrelated to the topic of disability, nor should they be portrayed as oddities or as objects of curiosity.

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Section 5 - Language, Race and Ethnicity

(54) Australia's population comprises people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, some of whom are Indigenous to Australia. Language plays a major role in expressing group relations and group conflicts. Ethnic and racial labels, names and expressions are created and used to portray certain groups as inferior or superior to others.

(55) The heterogeneity of Australia's population in terms of origin, descent, language, culture, religion and other characteristics is and should be reflected in language. Non-discriminatory language in relation to race and ethnicity aims to recognise and present the diversity of Australia's population in positive ways.

(56) In NSW, racial vilification amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 No 48 provide legal sanction against racial defamation, by banning the expression of racial hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule in a wide range of spoken and written forms.

(57) Some of the major forms of racist language are described below.

Undue Emphasis on Racial and Ethnic 'Differences'

(58) The language used to describe the majority group in Australia - people of Anglo-Celtic descent - establishes this group as the norm against which other groups (minority or 'out-groups') are judged. As a result, the racial or ethnic features of Australians of Anglo-Celtic descent are seldom mentioned, whereas those of other groups are stressed, often to the exclusion of other, more relevant features. This occurs frequently, for example, in news headlines and reports e.g. the following instances from Australian newspapers, 'Greek man kicked to death', 'Viets charged on tax fraud'.

(59) It is generally not appropriate to refer to the ethnic or racial background of a person or group unless there is a valid reason for so doing.

(60) Another characteristic of discriminatory language is the tendency to describe the majority group, its actions and its members in positive terms, whereas minority groups, their actions and members are portrayed overwhelmingly in negative terms. For example, a similar characteristic can be given different connotations depending on the national, ethnic, or racial group it is being attributed to e.g. 'reserved English', 'inscrutable Orientals'.


(61) A stereotype is a generalised and relatively fixed image of a person or persons belonging to a particular group. For example, stereotypes based upon supposed racial, ethnic or national traits include 'the passionate French', 'excitable Italians', 'whingeing Poms', or the claim that 'black people are natural athletes'. Even seemingly positive stereotypes are discriminatory in that they take away a person's individuality. Members of racial and ethnic minorities are far more likely to be described in stereotypical terms than members of the majority group. Women from minority groups are labelled with stereotypes that are both sexist and racist.

(62) Racial and ethnic stereotypes are offensive and should be avoided.


(63) The diversity in and among various racial and ethnic minorities is often not recognised or acknowledged. For example, the various Asian ethnicities present in Australia are often lumped together under the single term 'Asian', despite their many differences.

(64) It is important to avoid using expressions which obscure the history, presence and achievements of Aboriginal people in Australia, or euphemisms which describe the historical treatment of Aboriginal people or other minority racial and ethnic groups e.g. the notion that Australia was 'first settled in 1788'.

Derogatory Labelling and Ethnic and Racial Slurs

(65) Verbal conflict and aggression between the majority and minority groups have given rise to a whole range of racial and ethnic slurs whose main function is to set the targeted group apart from others by stressing their eccentricity, exoticism, or undesirability. These include derogatory terms and nicknames e.g. 'wog', as well as terms which are not overtly derogatory, such as 'New Australian', but which are used to delineate people as 'other'.

Inappropriate Use of the Term "Australian"

(66) The term 'Australian' should not be used in ways which exclude Indigenous or immigrant minorities. 'Australian' should be used to refer to any Australian citizen, irrespective of the person's ethnic or racial background or country of birth.

(67) If it is important to specify the descent or ethnicity of a person or a group, or to distinguish between people born in Australia and elsewhere, the following strategies are recommended:

  1. Use a qualifier in conjunction with the noun Australian e.g. Vietnamese-born Australian', 'Arabic-speaking Australian', Jewish Australians' etc.
  2. Use phrases which refer to a person or group's background or origin e.g. 'Australian of Irish background', 'Australians of Chilean descent' etc.

Use of Racist 'Humour'

(68) Racist 'jokes' are offensive to many people and should be avoided.

Representation of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Case Materials and Illustrations

(69) Visual and textual illustrations contribute to the invisibility of ethnic and racial minorities by conveying an Anglo-Celtic image of Australian society. It is recommended that the racial and ethnic diversity of Australia's population be reflected in both visual and textual illustrations, provided that stereotyped language and images are not used.

Quoting Racist Material

(70) When quoting from sources that use racist language, use [sic] after the racist word or phrase, thus calling attention to the fact that this form of words is used in the original.

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Section 6 - Fair Representation of Indigenous Australians

(71) The linguistic portrayal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been and remains mainly negative and stereotypical. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are most often described in racial group terms, for example as 'blacks' or 'Aborigines', and almost never as individuals with personal names.

Terms Used to Describe the Indigenous People of Australia

(72) An Aboriginal person is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, who identifies as such, and is recognised as such by the community in which they live.

(73) Terms which distinguish between Aboriginal people in terms of 'racial purity' e.g. 'full-blood Aborigines', 'half-caste', 'part-Aboriginal', are often used to serve discriminatory purposes, and must be avoided.

(74) Some Indigenous people of Australia object to being labelled 'Aborigines', because it is a term which was imposed on them by the British, and because it is the general term for any Indigenous people. They prefer to be known by the terms they have developed for themselves - see list below. Others, however, consider the noun 'Aborigine(s)' to be acceptable. It should always be given a capital 'A' and never abbreviated.

(75) 'Aboriginals' was often used as a noun to describe the Indigenous people of Australia. As many Indigenous people of Australia feel this use to be degrading, it should be avoided. Its use as an adjective is acceptable e.g. the Aboriginal Education Unit, the Aboriginal people of Australia, Aboriginal employees/students.

(76) The separate linguistic and cultural identity of the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands must be recognised. The preferred term is Torres Strait Islander. Abbreviations such as 'Islander' and 'TSI' should not be used.

(77) The following are some terms that are used by Indigenous people in Australia to refer to themselves:

Term People
Anangu used by people in Central Australia
Koori used by people in Southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania
Murri used by people in Northern Queensland
Nyunga used by people in South Western Australia
Yoingu used by people in the Northern Territory

(78) (The spelling of these terms may vary).

(79) Indigenous people may also identify in terms of a specific place or language. For example, the Worimi people from the Great Lakes region.

(80) Care should be taken when using these terms. For example, it is not appropriate, and may be offensive, to refer to some Aboriginal people as Kooris. In addition, you should be aware that there are a range of terms which Aboriginal people use to describe themselves e.g. 'black Australians', which may not be appropriate for non-Aboriginal people to use.

(81) Wherever possible an Aboriginal person or group's preference of title should be used. If in doubt, ask the person or group. At the University of Newcastle, the Wollotuka Institute can be consulted if assistance is required.

Valuing Aboriginal Language and Culture

(82) Some Aboriginal words have been appropriated into English e.g. 'lubra'. As such words are often used inaccurately or in a derogatory way, they should be avoided.

(83) Aboriginal cultural practices have been conceptualised - often inaccurately - through English words e.g. 'Walkabout'. Because such terms often have negative connotations when used inappropriately or out of context, they should be avoided.

(84) Expressions such as 'magic', 'sorcery', 'superstition' used in relation to Aboriginal beliefs, and words that imply that Aboriginal creation and religious beliefs are less valid than other religious beliefs, should be avoided.

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Section 7 - Commonly Used Terms in Relation to Race and Ethnicity

(85) The suggested usage of some commonly-heard terms relating to ethnicity and race in the Australian context is outlined below. This list aims to provide general guidance. It should be noted that some of the words and phrases listed in this section do not have a single, universally-accepted meaning.

community language/s This term generally refers to the non-Aboriginal languages other than English which are spoken in Australia.
ethnic group   An historically distinct people with specific characteristics, demonstrating a degree of institutional development along ethnic lines, and drawn together by their language and the pursuit of economic, political, social and cultural interests.
Ethnicity is distinct from race, which usually refers to physical attributes such as skin colour. The word 'ethnic' is often inaccurately equated with 'foreign' or 'other', and is frequently applied only to non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants and immigrant groups. However, everybody has an ethnicity and belongs to an ethnic group. Use of the label 'ethnics' to describe immigrants or people from a non-English speaking background is inaccurate and often offensive, and should be avoided.
ESL English as a second language. This term indicates that English is someone's second language; it does not indicate the person's competence in English.
ethnic A group within a population which is different from the dominant minority group with regard to such characteristics as language, culture and / or religion. This difference frequently results in discriminatory treatment.

A person involved in the process of immigration or someone who has recently arrived in Australia.
The term 'immigrant' is preferred to the term 'migrant'. If someone has been in Australia for a considerable period of time, it is preferable to avoid using 'immigrant' as a description. 'Immigrant' should not be used exclusively to refer to people of non-English speaking background.
International Students Students who are not permanent residents of Australia, regardless of their ethnic and racial background, who are normally enrolled on a full-fee paying basis.
Distinguishing between Australian and international students, and queries in relation to resident status, citizenship and nationality, should only be made in relevant contexts, e.g. for enrolment purposes.
LBOTE Language background other than English.
Whilst NESB is still primarily used at the University of Newcastle, it should be noted that LBOTE is gaining currency, and is the collective term that many groups prefer.
LOTE Language other than English.
NESB Non-English speaking background. The term non-English speaking background is used to indicate that a person's language background is not English; it does not indicate the person's knowledge of English.
Be aware that a number of different definitions of the term NESB are used in different contexts. For example, at the University of Newcastle a staff member is classified as being from a non-English speaking background if English is not the first language of one of their parents. However, the definition of NESB students refers to those students who speak a language other than English at home.
racial A group within a population which differs from the majority group with regard to physical features (typical of a 'race'). This frequently results in discriminatory treatment.
refugee A person who has a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion (UN Convention 1951, UN Protocol 1967).
  As this definition indicates, the term refugee has a specific meaning, and should not be applied to all immigrants.
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Section 8 - Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Australia

(86) Australia's commitment to eliminating discrimination has been manifested in a number of ways, including legislation at the federal level. For example, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sex, and disability.

(87) In NSW, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 No 48 also covers discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual preference, marital status, race, physical and intellectual disability, and age. Vilification of people on the grounds of homosexuality or their HIV or AIDS status is prohibited by amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 No 48.

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Section 9 - Acknowledgments

(88) University of Technology, Sydney

(89) This brochure is primarily based on Anne Pauwels, Non-Discriminatory Language.