Department of Health

Designing for Diversity

Key messages

  • Designing for Diversity is the department’s framework for embedding responsiveness to diversity at the outset of any policy reform or service design process.
  • This framework comprises an approach and suite of resources to highlight diversity considerations and identify gaps in the design process where diversity may not have been adequately addressed.
  • The resources are intended for departmental policy and service designers. However, other staff or agencies may wish to use the resources to inform their own policies or services. 


Diversity responsiveness

Designing for Diversity is an initiative to embed responsiveness to diversity at the outset of any policy reform or service design process. The department recognises that diversity responsive design is critical to ensuring positive and equitable health and wellbeing outcomes for all Victorians.

Being responsive to diversity requires that services are both universally accommodating as well as tailored to particular population groups. As part of this approach, we have specifically considered people from lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) communities, Aboriginal people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse and faith communities, refugees and asylum seekers, people with a disability, and gender.

Designing for Diversity also prompts consideration of how the policy or service will impact people across the life-course, particularly young and older Victorians, as well as people living in regional areas or areas of disadvantage. Age and place can significantly impact on health and wellbeing, especially when combined with other aspects of diversity that may further amplify barriers to accessing appropriate services and lead to inequitable health and wellbeing outcomes. 

Benefits of planning for diversity

Together, people from diverse communities make up a large proportion of our population. The department values this diversity as a strength of the Victorian population.

Ensuring that policies and services reflect the broad diversity within the Victorian population will add considerable value to existing and emerging approaches to improving population health, wellbeing and safety.

Designing for Diversity contributes to all five of the department’s outcome areas, in which all Victorians: 

  • are healthy and well
  • are safe and secure
  • have the capabilities to participate
  • are connected to culture and community
  • can access person-centred and sustainable health and human services

The initiative is also a key strategy in fulfilling the department’s commitment to person-centred services and care, supporting local solutions and advancing quality, safety and innovation in health and human services.

Risks of not addressing diversity

Failure to consider diversity in policy and service design leads to enormous risks to the department, community organisations, and Victorians, including:

  • increasing barriers to services
  • lack of appropriate, equitable and safe services
  • increasing the risk of preventable adverse events
  • decreasing positive health and wellbeing outcomes
  • contributing to a decreased sense of belonging.

Failure to consider diversity can also contribute to a lack of social cohesion in our community.

Diversity within diversity

While each community will require different considerations in terms of policy and service design, it is important to recognise that communities are not homogenous and that services must ultimately be designed to be responsive to the unique needs of individuals. 

This includes acknowledging that responding to a person’s needs requires an understanding of a broad range of personal differences, including religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, culture, language and communication requirements or disability. It also involves acknowledging contextual differences such as visa status, socio-economic status, and geographic location. Many of these characteristics are common across a number of communities but may impact individuals in different ways. 

Further, Designing for Diversity also recognises that where systems fail to respond to the wide varieties within diverse communities, overlapping forms of discrimination, vulnerability and disadvantage can result. This can further exacerbate barriers to engagement and services, leading to poor health and wellbeing outcomes. 

The needs of all Victorians will be met by designing for diversity.


These resources and tools are intended to provide guidance around embedding diversity considerations across all aspects of policy and service design. Program areas may wish to adapt them to their particular area of reform and incorporate them into existing policies and frameworks.

Note that these resources are currently in the process of being tested and piloted with areas of reform in the department and with community stakeholders, which may lead to further updates.

  • Designing for Diversity: Principles outlines the four key principles that underpin diversity responsive service design.
  • Designing for Diversity: Key elements provides practical examples for implementing diversity responsive design - to be used alongside the Rapid Review resource.
  • Designing for Diversity: Rapid review tool uses a series of questions to identify diversity considerations, highlight strengths and areas requiring more attention- to be used alongside the Key elements resource.
  • Designing for Diversity: Minimum data set guide provides a best practice approach to collecting information relating to cultural and linguistic diversity, gender, Aboriginality, disability, and LGBTI identification. This document is currently under review and is unavailable to download.
  • Designing for Diversity: Key documents summary provides a list of key national and state resources in relation to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, gender, Aboriginal communities, disability, and people from LGBTI communities.

For more information on this approach or how to adapt these resources to your area of service design or reform please contact the Diversity team.

Reviewed 14 September 2022


Contact details

International, interstate and mobile callers: +61 3 9096 9000

Diversity team Department of Health

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