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Identifying and Definitional Attributes
QH 041586
Metadata Item Type
Data Element
Data Element Type
Data Element
Approval Status
Approval Type
Approving Authority
Information Management Strategic Governance Committee (IMSGC), Queensland Health
Effective From
Effective To
The language (including sign language) most preferred by the person for communication.
Health and welfare services
Short Name
Preferred language (4-digit)
Name in Other Contexts
Representational Attributes
Numeric character
Representation Class
Minimum Character Length
Maximum Character Length
Permissible Values
A valid code from the current Corporate Reference Data System (CRDS) Language (ASCL 4 digit) data set maintained by Statistical Standards & Strategies, Statistical Services Branch (SSB).
Supplementary Values
Collection and Usage Attributes
Guide for Use
Preferred language for communication may be a language other than English even where the person can speak fluent English.

The Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) is an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) classification that includes:
- Those which are universally recognised as distinct and separate languages,
- Separately identified dialects,
- Creoles and pidgins,
- A group of linguistically distinct languages (American languages), 
- Australian indigenous languages, and
- Sign languages. 

Supplementary  Codes For Inadequate Data:
These codes commence with 000 and facilitate the coding of data such as inadequately described languages, etc., which contain insufficient information in that a language code cannot be allocated.

0000 Inadequately Described
To be used when insufficient preferred language information is provided or the information is unknown (e.g. when a person is unconscious).

0001 Non Verbal, so described
To be used when communication is by other than verbal means (e.g. facial expression, body language, gesture). Does not include sign language.

0002 Not Stated
To be used when no preferred language information is provided (e.g. when a person refuses to provide the information).

Supplementary Codes To Preserve Data That Might Otherwise Be Lost:
These codes commence with 000 and are used to preserve data relating to meaningful data that would otherwise be lost (that is, they would be allocated other incoherent or inadequately described codes).
0003 Swiss, so described
0004 Cypriot, so described
0005 Creole, nfd
0006 French Creole, nfd
0007 Spanish Creole, nfd
0008 Portuguese Creole, nfd
0009 Pidgin, nfd
Verification Rules
Should not be blank.
Collection Methods
The question that should be asked is 'What is your preferred language for communicating when receiving health care services?'

The reference to 'receiving heath care services' will assist in advising that the question relates to their preferred language for communicating in a health setting as opposed to at home or any other general social interaction.
This data element is an important indicator of ethnicity, especially for persons born in non-English-speaking countries. Its collection will assist in the planning and provision of multilingual services and facilitate program and service delivery for migrants and other non-English speakers.
Relational Attributes
Related Metadata References
Is used in the derivation of Person-preferred language (ASCL 2016 Index) QH 040722 Version 3
Supersedes Person-preferred language (ASCL 2011) QH 041586 Version 2
Implementation in Metadata Sets


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ViewMetadata Item TypeMetadata Set TypeNameAscendingIdentifier & VersionObligationEffective FromEffective To
Data Supply RequirementHHS Service AgreementOral Health Data Supply Requirement (DSR)QH 020579 Version 1Mandatory01-Jul-2017
Data Quality Declaration
Source and Reference Attributes
Source Organisation
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Source Document
METeOR data element: Person-preferred language, code (ASCL 2016) NN{NN}, identifier 659407, Health standard 08/11/2016 https://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/659407/meteorItemView/long
ABS cat. no. 1267.0. Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) 2016