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Inclusive language

The University of South Australia has an increasingly diverse population of students, staff and visitors who come from a wide range of educational, linguistic and cultural backgrounds and bring with them valuable experiences and knowledge. Given the importance of language in creating positive and respectful academic and social settings, the information provided on this website guides staff and students to ensure that their written and verbal language and communication are inclusive. Inclusive language principles are also featured in UniSA policy and State and Commonwealth government legislation. The following resource is based on the book by Anne Pauwels Just Language: guidelines for the use of inclusive language (1998).

Guidelines for using inclusive language

The following sections present guidelines and examples on using inclusive language. This information is not exhaustive and recognises that language is dynamic and contextual. The guidelines below will outline the way that careful use of language can promote fairness and equality in a range of situations.

Education and the use of inclusive language

For academic staff, the use of inclusive language involves non-discriminatory content in curriculum as well as non-discriminatory teaching practices. This section provides examples for identifying language barriers and biases in course-related materials and teaching activities.

References with non-inclusive language

When quoting sources which are demeaning or discriminatory, use [sic] or (sic) after any non-inclusive phrase or word to indicate its original presentation in the source text.

Ensure materials reflect the diversity of people

The use of texts, materials and images that reflect the diversity within the University as well as Australian society is encouraged. This means ensuring that stereotypes are not portrayed and that people from diverse backgrounds are not presented as 'oddities'.

Avoid limiting the inclusion of people to only the area of their diversity

Using people with disabilities only in disability related materials, or Indigenous people only in materials relating to Indigenous culture, both stereotypes these groups and suggests they are limited only to those areas.

Identify practices or resources that are contradictory to inclusive language principles in your own work

It is important to address any inappropriate practices or resources as soon as possible. Use this guide to make the necessary adjustments, and seek advice from fellow colleagues or students. If appropriate you can also look at the policies and legislation which provide further information on inclusive language.

Complaints about use of non-inclusive language

If a complaint is made against you in relation to equity it is important to seek advice and support as soon as possible. The University has procedures for staff and students dealing with discrimination and harassment grievances, and both procedures encourage informal conciliation in the first instance.

Policies and legislation

University policies and procedures


General and specific contacts



Learning and Teaching Unit - email ltu@unisa.edu.au