Multilingual chatbot targets CALD communities

The Victorian government has developed a multilingual chatbot aimed at boosting engagement with multicultural communities.

Think HQ founder Jen Sharpe

The AskVic chatbot, originally created to increase access to information about Covid, is now serving a wider purpose by answering questions, sharing government information and providing links to support services in eight languages.

It was developed by the department of families, fairness and housing in partnership with local communications and marketing company Think HQ, and is built on open-source technology including conversational AI, with multilingual content management facilitated via the BotFront authoring platform.

Increasing trust in government information

AskVic uses the WhatsApp messaging app, which according developers has been shown to be widely used by CALD communities, and integrates the ‘nuanced and cultural communication styles’ of the eight languages.

“We know that WhatsApp and other messaging platforms are vital communication channels connecting people throughout Victoria’s multicultural communities, so it makes complete sense to be providing government information in this channel,” AskVic development team member Jess Billimoria says.

“We expect this will increase trust in and use of the wide range of translated information the Victorian Government provides.”

‘Innovation combined with social impact’

Think HQ says the chatbot is the first of its kind in Australia.

Founder and managing director Jen Sharpe says the technology is the combination of innovation, social impact, cultural relevance and audience inclusion.

“Think HQ will always seek partners whose lens is broad enough to challenge the traditional methods of reaching audience,” Ms Sharpe said.

AskVic  speaks to users in Hindi, Arabic, Vietnamese, Turkish, Punjabi, Spanish, and Filipino (Tagalog) and English.

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