Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ

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Purpose-driven agency Think HQ has developed an Australian-first chatbot that enables the Victorian Government to engage with multicultural communities and share vital information in 8 languages.


Everyone deserves equal access to the information they need, only then can everyone in our diverse communities participate equally in Victorian life.

To that end, the AskVic WhatsApp chatbot was created to increase accessibility to reliable COVID-19 information and support among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

Think HQ developed the tool in partnership with The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH). Bringing together expertise across Think HQ’s digital, content, and multicultural translation teams, the Chatbot is designed to remove language as a barrier by serving in-language information to user queries and link out to further information and support services.

Says Jen Sharpe, founder and managing director, Think HQ: “It’s wonderful to see that innovation combined with a commitment to positive social impact and audience inclusion, has produced such an exciting Australian first. Think HQ will always seek partners whose lens is broad enough to challenge the traditional methods of reaching audiences because we are committed to creating products and channels that reach all Australians.”

The WhatsApp chatbot is the result of the perfect balance of human-centred design, content and cultural relevance, and technology prowess, Think HQ head of digital Olivier Laude explained: “The AskVic WhatsApp chatbot will provide essential information to audiences that are too often forgotten from traditional communications in Australia. We are proud to have delivered an innovative technical solution built with users to reflect all the cultural and linguistic nuances.”

Think HQ’S content and CultureVerse teams integrated the nuances and cultural communications styles of the different languages into the conversation design. The chatbot was tested in each language with native speakers to humanise the dialogue to align with what speakers would expect in their native languages.

The chatbot responds to all requests in the familiar WhatsApp application that research showed is widely used by Victoria’s CALD communities, head of CultureVerse, Jess Billimoria explained: “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. We expect this will increase trust in and use of the wide range of translated information the Victorian Government provides.”

The tool is built on open-source technology, including the Rasa Conversational AI, and uses the BotFront authoring platform, to facilitate multilingual content management.

Think HQ’s digital team overcame the challenges expected when delivering a complex, first-to-market solution with multilingual requirements. That included defining a common functional flow and architecture that was robust as a foundation for each language, yet offered flexibility at a language level to tailor dialogue and retain cultural relevance.

While the chatbot was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been designed with a longer-term purpose as an information source for migrant groups to support equal access and participation in Victorian life.

The AskVic chatbot provides information in 8 languages, including Hindi, Arabic, Vietnamese, Turkish, Punjabi, Spanish, and Filipino (Tagalog), as well as English. An accompanying launch campaign was also developed by Think HQ to target these specific community groups, with in-language creative for radio, social, digital display, press and animations.

Agency: Think HQ
Jen Sharpe, Founder & Managing Director
Andy Lima, Group Head of Creative, Production and Digital
Olivier Laude, Head of Digital
Antony Dabonde, Lead Developer
Jose Rojas Torres, Developer
Don Katugampala, Developer
Jessica Billimoria, Head of CultureVerse
Jess Glass, Senior Account Director
Joseph McMahon, Strategist, Owned and Earned
Rune Pedersen, Head of Localisation
Neelam Yadav, Project Manager and Analyst
Nicholas Amador, Localisation Coordinator
Roberta Ramalho, Motion Designer
Melissa Hill, Senior Graphic Designer

Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ Victorian Government develops Australian-first multilingual chatbot via Think HQ