What is a 'certified' interpreter? What are the benefits of engaging a certified interpreter? How can I best engage and work with one? We answer these questions and many more.

Transcript

Donna

So welcome everyone. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodian on the land in which we meet today. I'm coming to you from Brisbane - the country of the Jaggera and Turrbal people. I would like to pay my respects and acknowledge elders past, present and emerging leaders, and their continuing connection to country and sea.

 

As I say, welcome to everyone. We are QCOSS – the peak body for Queensland’s social services sector. Our vision is for equality, opportunity and well-being for every person in every community.

 

Did you want to say hello Luke?

 

Luke

Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us.

 

Donna

Okay, here's a bit of an overview of what we're going to be covering and what we're not. So we're going to be looking at particularly engaging and working with interpreters during this current crisis.

 

And looking at if you - you and your organisation are set up with what you need to be able to engage interpreters should the need arise in this current time. I'll just give you a little bit of information about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language interpreting. We do have that available in Queensland so I'll talk about the extent of that a little bit.

 

We'll talk about what is a certified interpreter and who can interpret in what scenario. We'll also talk a little bit about how you might assess the need for an interpreter in your work, and some tips for working effectively with interpreters. And then a little bit about who pays for it and which services can access, particularly funded interpreter services.

 

What we won't be covering today is your organisation's internal processes. Obviously, that's something you’ll need to do your own homework on if you're not familiar. We're not going to be talking so much about face to face and other modes of interpreting, because we're particularly focusing on the current situation, which will most likely be telephone interpreting in at the moment.

 

We also won't be talking about interpreting services for the deaf community.

 

This is obviously - interpreting there for the deaf community has a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences to spoken word interpreting. And the funding and organisation of that is a little bit complex, particularly since the implementation of the NDIS, so this would need to be a webinar of its own.

 

So we will not be covering that in this. However, if you're interested in getting more information about interpreting for the deaf community, I would suggest going to Deaf Services Queensland website, where you will get a lot of information about the various services available.

 

Okay, so in terms of engaging and working with interpreters during the current COVID-19 pandemic, obviously, things are constantly changing. We’re finding it difficult to keep up.

 

And it's affecting every aspect of life. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, especially those with limited English skills, can experience a range of challenges around the constant information and the constant changes in terms of what can and cannot happen.

 

And many are at significant risk in that sense, both in terms of their own health and the health of the wider community and complying with the requirements of the current time. And also, of course, in terms of livelihood, Job, many job losses and changes to service provision.

 

It's critical that everyone in our community can understand what's required of them, and what is available, how they can access services. And for workers in services, it's critical that you are able to communicate effectively with everyone in the community. So clearly, this is a time when you need to be ready to engage interpreters to ensure that that happens.

 

So are you set up to engage interpreters when needed? Professional interpreters are provided through language service providers – they are companies that subcontract, I guess, professional interpreters.

 

You generally will need to have established an account with a language service provider or have an arrangement through your funding body where they may have set up an account for you to access. It's also a really good idea to have processes to be able to access interpreters from more than one language service provider in case you can't get an interpreter through that particular provider. It's always good to have a backup plan.

 

So as I say, there's a lot of language service providers out there. We're not advocating any particular one. And some are connected with government funding, such as the Translating and Interpretive Service - TIS National, which is used by many government funders and also those under the Queensland Government's arrangements where they have contracted certain language service providers.

 

And the Queensland Government Language Services Ppolicy requires that agencies and services that are funded by Queensland Government, engage qualified interpreters.

 

Your organisation should have a policy on engagement of interpreters in terms of the requirements under the Human Services Quality Framework, and a number of other quality frameworks that may govern your work as well.

 

Just as an example in terms of a process, I've just got QCOSS as an example. So we have two new processes - One of them is through a specific program that we have funded under the by the Queensland Government, which is, as I said the CAMS program, and we have another process for work outside of the CAMS program.

 

So that means that I have two codes, client codes for booking an interpreter with a designated language service provider, and that language service provider happens to be TIS National - The Translating and Interpreting Service.

 

So, for QCOSS we have to make a decision if we require an interpreter to work with somebody, whether that comes under that program, the CAMS program, in which case we'll use that code in it that is funded by the Queensland Government, or if it's not part of that, QCOSS will have to foot the bill.

 

And so we have our own account separate to that. You may work for an organisation that has many different programmes, and you may actually find that you have several different processes for accessing interpreters, depending on what program you're working on in that instance.

 

So it's important to do some homework and understand where you should be accessing interpreters for any given piece of work.

 

Okay - quick poll. I'm just checking my messages.

No, I don't have anything. Luke, have you found the polls?

 

We've lost Luke.

 

Okay.

 

Luke

Michael will be joining us shortly to support that.

 

Donna

Okay. That poll was just asking, does your organisation already have a process in place for booking interpreters If required, so that was more to inform me about just where your organisation's are at with that.

 

We can go back to those.

 

Okay. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreting - in January 2018. 2M Interpreter Services were contracted by the Queensland Government to provide Indigenous language services across the state.

 

So they currently provide language services in five languages, which you can see listed there. And they offer video and telephone interpreting to try to overcome barriers for remote communities, and to cater for on-demand interpreting requests. They can also organise on-site interpreting.

 

2M’s First Nations Interpreters are NAATI certified. I'll talk a little bit about that later. And they're also looking for talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language speakers interested in becoming interpreters to grow their pool. This is a fairly new thing for Queensland. So it's good for people to know that, that there is a service that specialises in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and they're trying to grow their pool of interpreters.

 

So if you come across people who may be interested, that will only make that service better.

 

Okay.

 

So who is a certified interpreter?

 

Qualified interpreters or professional interpreters are not only good bilingual or multilingual individuals, they have a high proficiency in the languages in which they work. And they've developed skills in interpreting. They are required to complete tertiary studies and professional development and they go through pretty rigorous testing.

 

So qualified interpreters are also trained to maintain strict ethical standards while performing their work. And they're set out in the AUSIT Code of Ethics, which I have in the links at the end of the presentation.

 

So that testing is run by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, otherwise known as NAATI.

 

And that is a company that's jointly owned by the nine governments of Australia and exists specifically to maintain those standards and to provide certification and testing.

 

There's - whoops, sorry.

 

There's also, if you look at those levels of certification, there's what's called Recognised Practitioner. And that's available for languages for interpreters between English and a language other than English.

 

For which NAATI doesn’t actually have certification testing, so they can't test in the actual language other than English, but they can test their English, which they do and they test their competencies in terms of understanding of ethical principles and the training in how to interpret.

 

And they’re often in those languages that are emerging because they're quite new to Australia, or very low demand languages that they haven't got testers available for.

 

Okay - back to another poll. I'm not sure we're ready for that yet, but I was going to ask you have you worked with bicultural support workers or bilingual stuff, when your work - to help with language support with your clients, and this is important in terms of deciding who can interpret in a given situation.

 

Bicultural support workers, provide cultural advice and language support to facilitate culturally competent service delivery and many organisations work very well with bicultural support workers.

 

There's no qualification or training, or particular accreditted training associated with bicultural support work, and also bicultural support workers will not be covered by professional indemnity insurance. So if something were to go wrong with the interpreting, they would be at risk and so would your organisation, and not to mention the clients for getting the wrong information.

 

So it's really important to decide whether this is a situation where you can work with the support of a bicultural support worker or whether an interpreter, or professional interpreter is required - so they can be engaged for language support in non-critical, transactional or conversational communication.

 

For example, a person who does not speak English well and is new to Australia, they might need help to learn the bus route to the English class at TAFE. And in that case, a case worker might organise a bicultural support worker to make the trip with them, and teach them about public transport in their new city. Another example would be a person who doesn't speak English has an appointment with their GP, and their bicultural support worker may help them with language support to make the appointment - to speak with reception staff about payment or Medicare, and complete the registration paperwork.

 

However the GP for the appointment itself, the GP should always engage a certified interpreter. A bicultural support worker may also assist with language support for community educational group work, or simple form filling, but they shouldn't be involved in complex advice or instructions.

 

And the next poll question was about - Have you needed to rely on family or friends of clients for language support?

 

This can happen and is often the preference sometimes expressed by clients themselves. However, it's really important to realise: one, that they're not professional interpreters, and also, family members or friends providing language support may cause someone to be uncomfortable about full disclosure. And also may introduce bias.

 

There's many occasions that we've heard of when people have been asked questions via a member of their family. And the family member has not felt comfortable asking that question. They may not tell you that they may change the question.

Or the person you're trying to speak with changes their answer because they don't want to tell that that family member the things that they really need to tell you. So it's really important not to rely on family or friends for complex issues, and particularly sensitive stuff.

 

Very much the same as bicultural support workers, except even more so in terms of what they may or may not want to talk about.

 

Our next poll was asking - Have you or a client, or community member used Google Translate to help with communication?

 

I've got a little example there about a mistranslation thanks to Google Translate. “May the force be with you” was translated to Japanese as “I will force you to be with me in May”, obviously completely changing the meaning of those words.

 

Google Translate is not 100% accurate.

 

In some cases for simple word translations it may be helpful, but Google Translate will look for appropriate translations by searching linguistic patterns with millions of documents already translated by human translators.

 

It's all written and if it has insufficient data, it basically guesses which can often be misleading or simply, as in the example here, wrong. Language is basically just too complex for machines to understand and the way grammar and context and, you know, all those complexities in language - are so diverse that simple translations by a machine often end up translating wrong.

 

So it is not recommended that you rely on Google Translate for anything, really. But we do find some clients who, you know, might walk around - particularly those who are very much literate in their first language, will rely on Google Translate, but you need to be very careful when talking about complex stuff. And Google Translate.

 

Okay, so how do you know when you should engage an interpreter? Sometimes this is really clear. The most obvious being that the client asks for an interpreter and you can see there an image of an interpreter card that many new arrivals are given when early in their settlement, which is very useful when you're not sure what the language is, that you need to get an interpreter to speak.

 

However, other times it's going to require a degree of judgement and consideration of many factors, including the language competency on the day. You may have clients that you work with quite regularly and they have pretty good conversational English. But on a particular day, you may see them when they are very stressed, or they haven't slept. And this can really affect their ability in English.

 

I have a friend who, speaks very, very good English, but it's not her first language. And I remember her posting on Facebook recently - and she just wrote, “that time when you go into the job interview, and you forget all your English”.

 

It's a stressful experience. She is fluent in English, but she walked into that interview, feeling stressed and couldn't find the English words. That is real for so many people, and you need to be flexible in going, okay, I know I've had a relationship with this person, they, they can speak English, but right now they need an interpreter.

 

Also of course, you need to consider the complexity of the information that's going to be discussed. And the - not only the ability of the client to understand you, but the ability of the client to really communicate their own needs. You also need to think about that the impact of inaccurate interpretation of because your client is trying to interpret what you're saying, on the individual and or your organisation, and how this is impacting on the client's ability to access your service.

 

If they're not understood, if they don't feel comfortable, they're not going to come back.

 

If you're not sure, it's always best to err on the side of caution and engage in interpreter. You can also perhaps try verbally testing a client's level of proficiency by asking open ended questions, or asking the client to maybe repeat back to you their understanding of something you've told them.

 

Don't ask them questions that are very familiar, that everyone will ask, because they may well be able to answer those questions. Try to think of things outside of the usual realm of what is your address or you know, where do you live? How many children you have? That kind of thing. Okay, so what do you do if the family of the client or the client themselves can speak some English, or, and or, they don't want an interpreter.

 

This can happen and does happen. However, it's your responsibility under the Language Services Guidelines, if there's any doubt about a person's ability to communicate in, or comprehend English, an interpreter should be engaged. So consider to how you ask the question - do you need an interpreter, versus, would you like a professional interpreter? I think we may need some help to understand each other well.

 

So rather than putting it on the client - Oh, do you need an interpreter? Are, you know, which which they may perceive as, oh, I'm asking too much - or would you like a professional interpreter?

 

Reinforcing the fact that you're going to be getting somebody who's professional and not, you know, family member or somebody close in the community. Also, you can mention your organisation's policy, which is in line with the Queensland Services Guidelines. And you can offer to re-evaluate the need for an interpreter after the first time.

 

They may feel like they're asking too much or they may think they don't really require an interpreter. But that may push them over the line to go yeah, okay - we'll do it this time.

 

When certified interpreters are not available - so we talked about the different range of people that may help with language. Obviously, there's many occasions where, you know, you require a professional interpreter. However, there is a shortage of certified interpreters in a range of different languages, particularly the newer ones. And perhaps the situation is an emergency and it's just not possible to reach an interpreter at that short notice.

 

So it may be In those circumstances, you need to use the support of a bicultural support worker or other another bilingual person for language support. But if a non-professional person has been engaged to provide support in that emergency situation, follow up communication should always be arranged with the support of a professional interpreter as soon as one becomes available.

 

You should also think about in that situation, any relationship that the bilingual person may have with the person requiring language support. So be aware that if it is in an emergency situation a family member you may not get all the information that you would if you had somebody from outside, providing that language support, and also understanding the competency of that person - because they're not professional interpreters, which is why you should follow up with a professional interpreter.

 

And children should never be asked to provide language support where an interpreter would normally be engaged. It's not fair on the child or the client to put anyone in that position.

 

Now, questions or comments - and I'm hoping Luke is there somewhere, to be able to show me what we've got in terms of any questions or comments at this stage.

 

Luke

There was – Hi Donna, there was a couple of questions earlier, one of which has been clarified by Nora. Thank you, Nora. So clarifying some of the the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. And a question that was there from Meg - thank you to make for posing that question as well.

 

We need to update our terminology or spelling for some of those indigenous languages.

 

And now we have a question - up to what ages children are not allowed to interpret, or is it just adults? So I think that's one about the - that's from Pajetta. That's one about the - what are the age groups Donna do you think what - is that in the Language Services Policy?

 

Does it stipulate a particular age limit under which people should not be asked to interpret?

 

Donna

No, my memory of that is that it's just no children. So I would say 18 in terms of the actual Language Services Policy. I guess these things are all discretionary to a certain extent, but, and we know that often, young people have better English than their parents. But you do need to consider the issues of confidentiality on - of people being able to communicate effectively. And, yeah, anyone under the age of 18 that would perhaps compromise it.

 

I know that in in some circumstances that may not be possible, but I think you need to - certainly the policy says no children.

 

Luke

Okay, thank you Donna. Another question here. Is it acceptable for parents to interpret for their children, where you are working with the child?

 

Donna

Oh, now that's a good one. Well, I would ask back with that - would the parents normally be in that consultation or session? Would you normally speak only to the child without the parents present? Or would you speak with the parents present? I think if you if it was a situation where you normally wouldn't have the parent there, then you shouldn't be using the parent.

 

Luke

Okay, the asker of that question has just said yes - the parents are present.

 

Donna

Yeah, I there's one thing I would say about that in terms of, I think, it would be preferable to have an interpreter, because the job of interpreting is actually quite exhausting. And again, they're not professional interpreters. So they may be, they may, in a sense be speaking for the child - rather than saying what the child is saying.

 

So I think the preference would be to have an independent interpreter in the room playing that role of interpreter so that the parent can be the parent in that scenario.

 

Luke

Okay, thank you, Donna. Another question here from Stephanie. What do you suggest when the language is very hard to source an interpreter?

Donna

Ah, well, this is a big issue for some languages. I know - if it is very hard, I think it is important that that is reported back to those that manage that sort of thing, such as NAATI.

 

Obviously, if it is hard, you're going to find more of those scenarios where you can't get a certified interpreter. But at the same time, I think it's really important to make sure as much as possible, you're finding people who are not compromised, and are as skilled as possible. And at the same time advocate for more trained interpreters in that language. So if that's an issue that you're finding coming up, and there's particular languages, then please - let us know.

 

We're happy to do that advocacy work. And also NAATI who are probably aware of some of the shortages, but it is their job to get people through, and they have been trying to fast track some people through for particular languages, but if they're not aware that that's an issue - it's harder to monitor that issue because there are so many different language service providers in the game.

 

So we can't go to a single source to say “okay, how many times have you not been able to not been able to provide an interpreter for this language?” But if you can, communicate that stuff to us and to NAATI.

 

Luke

Thank you, Donna. Now, this is following up on that question of children interpreting, and this is from Majeeta again. What about children interpreting for their parents - because children being in Australia are very good with local English, as you mentioned, and they also know their first language.

 

Donna

Yes, this happens a lot. And sometimes the parents prefer it because it's keeping it within the family.

 

It is really unadvisable. It puts the children in a difficult situation – one, again, they're not professional interpreters. They may well be quite good in English, but they're not going to understand a lot of the concepts that you're probably trying to talk about. And it also creates a real pressure on the relationship between parents and their children.

 

It creates a dependence and we've seen a lot of issues in emerging communities where, you know, the power imbalance is completely messed up by the fact that the children control things through their knowledge of English. If you - by actually getting people outside of the family and getting independent interpreters to provide that bridge, you are enabling – I guess empowering the parents so that they're not dependent on their kids for that.

 

And also the kids themselves feel a lot of pressure when they're constantly being pulled out to provide language support for their parents.

 

Luke

Thank you, Donna, that really interesting points around that topic. A couple more questions and then we might have to move on. How confident can we be with interpreters when dealing with concerns around domestic and family violence or child safety matters? Are there interpreters that have particular skills and knowledge in these cases? And that one is from Finn Murphy.

 

That's a really good question. Unfortunately, we don't have a sort of specialisation available in terms of working in those areas. There are interpreters who’ve done extra training around health and the legal system.

 

But at present, there's nothing specific. Although I do believe that there's been some interpreters have done professional development in that area. The Immigrant Women's Support Service might be a good one to talk to about their experience, and whether they know of particular interpreters, depending on whether or not you can source them through your process.

 

It is an issue. I know a lot of domestic and family violence services only engage telephone interpreters and request interpreters from interstate to try to minimise the risk or the perceived risk of a breach of confidentiality by having local interpreters. So that is a practice, I think, which is quite common in those situations. And unfortunately, it means that you are limiting to telephone interpreting.

 

At the moment, most people are limiting to that anyway, so I guess we need to get. But yeah, it is an issue. It's not something you can specifically request – for somebody with a specialty in that. But there are interpreters who probably do more of that work than others. I would say Immigrant Women’s Support Service.

 

Luke

Okay, thank you, Donna. There's no more questions, but a couple of comments have come through - that your comments about Google Translate are quite interesting. And there's some experience out there from a few participants today, around yeah, the misunderstandings and the laughs and jokes that have come out of Google Translate and that it, it obviously isn't something that can be relied on.

 

To that anyway, so I guess we need to get.

 

But yeah, it. It is an issue. It's not something you can specifically request somebody with a specialty in that. But there are there are interpreters who probably do more of that work than others. I would say immigrant women support service.

 

Okay, thank you, Donna. It's no more questions, but a couple of comments have come through that your comments about Google Translate are quite interesting. And there's some experience out there from a few participants today around. Yeah, the misunderstandings in the laughs and jokes that have come out of Google Translate and that it - it obviously isn't something that can be relied on.

 

Donna

Yes, and it's it's great when you can laugh at the mistranslations. I get concerned about where they actually give people completely the wrong idea and maybe offend or, you know, yeah, can cause problems. But yeah, some of them are hilarious as well.

 

Luke

Yeah. And and Meg has made the point here, which both Stephanie and Nick have agreed with that sometimes interpreters are biased in relation to family violence, and have difficulty being objective interpreters.

 

Donna

That is true. And I'll talk a little bit about this later, in terms of an interpreter, a professional interpreter should decline to work on jobs where they have a conflict like that.

 

Luke

Yeah. Okay, fantastic. I think that's about it for now Donna. If you're happy to continue, there'll be more opportunities as we, as we go along.

 

Donna

Yeah, great. Thank you. All right. So, here's a few things to consider when you're organising an interpreter booking. And the first thing to realise and to allow for is it's going to take longer than if you weren't working via an interpreter.

 

We normally suggest at least one and a half, or even double the time to ensure that you are giving enough time to cover what you would normally cover in one language. Make sure you've got your organisational programs client code and the process for booking with the language service provider.

 

Have all your information ready for booking with a language service provider. Just as an example, with TIS National, the operator, if you call them up, would ask you for confirmation of the language that you're requesting your TIS National Client Code, your agency's name and the section you work in, your name and phone number, the non-English speakers name and their phone number if you're getting them to call and do a conference call, and any other required information that your agency has requested to be recorded, such as, for example, an identification number or a claim number or a client number or whatever that might be.

 

So make sure you've got all that ready. It's really important that when you're requesting an interpreter, you are specific about the language and regional dialect of the client and don't make assumptions. You might assume that if somebody speaks Arabic, then any Arabic would be fine.

 

You might even assume if somebody comes from Iraq, they speak Arabic. Not necessarily so. So you need to be very clear and specific, and make sure as much as possible you can get the language right. There's sub languages within languages, such as Coren, there's two sub Coren, which are languages from Burma. There are two sub Coren languages.

 

So you need to be specific. If you're not really sure, in terms of with it, perhaps a new group of people - in terms of what is the most appropriate, and it may not always be that you want somebody from that region because actually sometimes people would prefer an interpreter from outside their region.

 

For example, when Iraqi refugees first came to Australia, the ones who came from, who had worked with Australian Armed Forces requested, they did not want Iraqi interpreters. They asked for interpreters from another similar region, like from Syria, for example, because they didn't trust - because they didn't know, they were new. They didn't know who and with the Iraqi interpreters were aligned to.

 

So it can be a bit complex. You can seek advice from community members that you're already connected with, or organisations, or service providers that are working in settlement work and have a better understanding of the intricacies and complexities around particular languages and cultural groups. In sensitive cases, as well, it may be, as I said, necessary to request an interpreter from interstate.

 

So particularly with very small communities and particularly in those sensitive areas such as domestic and family violence and child protection. Also be aware that the interpreter may decline - it's best if you can book ahead an interpreter, particularly if it is a sensitive topic,

because the interpreter - if they know what the topic is can decline before it becomes - before they're on the line, essentially.

 

So, if possible, book ahead and let the language service provider know the topic. Sometimes they will have their own biases or feel uncomfortable. For example, we've had examples of interpreters ending a conversation where it became talking about termination of pregnancy. In other cases, it may be that the topic will re-traumatise them because they have their own trauma very close to the same experience and they try to avoid those kind of conversations. So be aware that the interpreter may and they should decline if they feel at all compromised. Or it may be that the interpreter actually, you know, knows the client, and didn't realise that they would have a conflict of interest. So, check that as well, as well as check the certification level of an interpreter that's assigned to you. This is obviously only possible when you book ahead.

 

But if you book ahead through a language service provider and they send you the details of the interpreter, sometimes they will or also, depending on the provider, send you the certification level, but if not, you can check that by looking on the NAATI website. They'll send you a number for the interpreter and you can check that on the NAATI website.

 

Okay, briefing your interpreter. So it's really important when you first speak to the interpreter that you're going to be working with that you explain to them before you start the process that you're going to be using. You know, I'm going to be doing an assessment interview, for example, and I'll be asking a number of questions and that kind of thing, so they're aware of what to expect, as well as the expected duration of the conversation.

 

Interpreters are not brilliantly paid. Sometimes people think that they they're paid a lot - they get much better pay for on-site interpreting. Now that everything's gone to telephone their incomes have dropped significantly, and they're paid by the minute. So they try to - many interpreters will try to fit in as much as they can and they may take appointments from a variety of language service providers as well.

 

So always Make sure that your interpreter understands what you think the expected duration is, so that they don't end up having to hang up and go to another job, and then causing you a problem, or causing them a problem by not being able to satisfy that next job. And, as we said, the subject matter to be discussed, explain to them your expectations, in terms of what you expect from them, and give permission to the interpreter to ask for clarification, or repeat things, if needed.

 

Make that really clear to the interpreter so that they don't feel reluctant to ask for you to slow down, or to clarify things. That will make it a much more productive conversation and your understanding of your respective roles in terms of what you're going to be doing. And what you require the interpreter to do.

 

Okay.

 

So, in terms of tips for a good interpreted session once you get started - really important to make sure, and where - I'm talking here, assuming that it's probably a three-way conversation during this current situation where everyone is isolated. So the client is in their home, you're in your home probably, and the interpreter is in their home. Make sure that all parties are in a quiet and confidential space. So make sure you're in a nice quiet space and it's confidential.

 

So you don't have family running around or interruptions. The same for the client so that they can speak freely, and the interpreter. So it's not okay for the interpreter to sit in the lounge room with other people in the lounge room, and speaking about, you know, and interpreting this situation - ask them to go somewhere private. Back in the days when we were allowed out, we used to have often examples of interpreters who were trying to make a living and they're on a train, going to a job and sitting in a public train - doing an interpreting job.

 

That's not okay. They're basically speaking in English and in their first language, somebody else's private matters. So ask them to make sure they're in a private space as well. Inform your client of their rights as a user, including having access to an interpreter, and that - assuming that the interpreter service is being provided for free. Many people are worried that they're going to have to pay for an interpreter. And that can make them reluctant to accept an interpreter and also explain to them that the interpreter is bound by the code of ethics. That includes confidentiality and impartiality.

 

Another thing that's really important is to speak directly to your client - direct questions to them, and any comments just to the client, not to the interpreter. A good way to remember this is to preference questions with the clients name. So rather than saying, oh, can you ask Mary how many children she has - to Mary, how many children do you have?

 

Then the interpreter will say, Mary, and in the language. Only address the interpreter directly if you need to provide instructions and avoid interrupting the interpreter. But if you need to, in that case, preference the interpreter and then speak to the interpreter. That will also make it clear to the client that you're speaking directly to the interpreter.

 

But you can also ask the interpreter to interpret that for the client so that they are aware of what's going on.

 

More tips. Speak in your normal tone of voice. Sometimes when we are concerned about being understood, the level of our voice may rise, and we've seen many examples of that happening. You know, for people with disability as well as people who don't speak English as their first language, you don't need to shout.

 

And obviously use concise well-constructed sentences. Avoid as much as possible, jargon and slang. Again, you have interpreters who are trying to interpret your words and put them in the first language. The more slang or the more long-winded way you speak, the harder it's going to be for the interpreter. Also, make sure you pause once you've conveyed one or two ideas to make sure that the interpreter can remember, and interpret everything that you've said.

 

You can test understanding by repeating back what you've heard, as well as asking the client to repeat back what they've heard.

 

Sometimes there's a misunderstanding between you and the interpreter, but you need to be able to make sure that everyone's clear.

 

If the client seems reluctant to speak, and this could be due to many reasons - they may genuinely be reluctant to speak because of whatever is concerning them. But they might also be reluctant to speak because maybe the language isn't quite right. Maybe the interpreter has a very strong accent or dialect that the client doesn't understand.

 

Or maybe they do. They know the interpreter, or they know of the interpreter, or some other reason why they don't particularly trust that interpreter. They may not have the words or the courage to tell you that in front of the interpreter, but you may be able to read that through their reluctance to speak.

 

If that's the case, arrange another time and get a different interpreter. It may be just an accent issue or it may be more, but there's no - really no use in pursuing it if that client is not comfortable enough to speak.

 

Also, particularly for telephone interpreting, make allowance for clarification by the interpreter because they, like you, don't have the visual cues that we often use to assist with understanding each other. Also at the end of the discussion, check before you finish, that the client is ready to end the conversation and has no further questions.

 

Make sure that also that you've got all the information that you need, and that the client has all the information that they need while the interpreters there. Because often you may think, oh no, I forgot to tell her this. As much as possible, be organised because you can't just easily call her back. I mean, you can but it'll go through the whole process again.

 

Also, it's really important to allow time to debrief with the interpreter when the session with the client is finished. Also, this is an opportunity to offer and receive feedback. So it's really - particularly if the subject matter has been quite difficult or distressing - remember that interpreters are essentially self-employed, and they go from one job to the other. They don't have a team that they can debrief with.

So sometimes it's really important to be able to, you know, offer an interpreter that opportunity to just talk through anything that may be concerning them or just giving them that opportunity that you will probably get when you connect virtually with your team members, to be able to debrief.

 

Also, being able to offer and receive feedback helps both of you learn from the interaction and will contribute to better service delivery in the future.

 

Okay, so what should you do if it seems like things aren't working.

 

So I've already talked about where you, you perceive that perhaps the client is not comfortable with the interpreter or doesn't understand them. What should you do if - sometimes it's really hard to know because of course, you have your language. If you're like me, it's pretty much essentially English.

 

And there's a, there's another conversation going on in another language, with the interpreter being the only one that understands both of you. Sometimes it may seem like there's a lot of discussion happening, and you're receiving very short interpreted responses.

 

Now, sometimes this is because the concepts require a lot of explanation in the client’s language, because there's no easy translation. And, or it may be that the interpreter is just trying to clarify the client's response before interpreting it back to you.

 

But it's important that you make sure that you're getting - not missing important information that would normally be, you'd be receiving through the conversation. It's important also to recognise that interpreters come with a range of levels of experience. And also, interpreters work in different areas every day. So don't assume that the interpreter fully understands your work.

 

So the important thing to do when you feel like there's a lot going on that you're missing, is to take control back, I guess, by pausing. Ask the interpreter - excuse me, do you mind if I jump in?

 

It's good to recognise that the interpreter may well be doing their job very well in trying to explain stuff. But you can say that you're worried that you might be missing important information, and take back control by saying - Can you help me? Let's go one at a time. And if the client tells you information outside of my question, that's okay. Please tell me that as well, because it's important to my work.

 

So feel free to be able to interrupt in that sense. And that will make for a better session for you and will help with the interpreter to really understand what's important and what's not. Okay - how are we going for time - not a lot of time left.

 

So any quick comments or questions right now? We will have another opportunity after I finished the next two or so slides I think.

 

Luke

Donna there a couple of comments. Sorry, it keeps keeps moving.

 

So Meg has said a good point about the courtesy of debriefing. I think this is a rare occurrence, however often work is still with clients, but important to put in a policy, I think as a reminder.

 

Donna

Yeah, very true. Yes, it is sometimes hard to provide the opportunity for that, but it is good to try to think about how best to do that. In a telephone conversation, you can make sure you finished with the client, and then say goodbye to the client. And keep – and say - interpreter, can you just hang on for a minute? Yep.

 

Luke

Another comment here from Stephanie, I have found working in family and child connect a lot. A lot of the terms we use are often misinterpreted, ie support service is often very vague and not clearly understood. That's an interesting point. And a reminder, I think to use plain language.

 

Donna

Yeah. And it may be worth, if they repeatedly misinterpreted, to talk to an interpreter when you have them in an appointment, or at the end, to actually ask what do you, you know, to work through that - and maybe you can find a better way of expressing that might make more sense.

 

Luke

Yep. Thank you, Donna. And just earlier as well, Tony said the AUSIT code of ethics should be promoted to bi-cultural support workers, which Meg agreed was very important, as well, too.

 

Understand the pre-arrival experiences and the trust issues that may influence preferred interpreter support. Ideally, additionally, as per code of ethics, an interpreter can rise above the issues, but it may not automatically engender confidence for the client, as you were saying earlier. Yeah, reaffirming that point you were making Donna.

 

Donna

Hmm, absolutely.

 

Luke

And there's also a couple of questions about the next week's workshop and whether the people who weren't able to make it today can attend the next one.

 

Donna

Absolutely. Yep. They can register. I think we'll be able to - we'll send it out – the, what's it called, presentation, and we'll send a link for people to register.

 

Luke

Yep. Okay, thanks, Donna. Hey, so we have about 14 more minutes.

 

Donna

Okay, well, we should be fine.

 

Alright, let's go. So who pays for it, and which services can access it?

 

So, for all public services, it is the service provider who should pay for the interpreter services to enable fair and equitable service. And when I say service provider, it could be the funder that is subcontracting that service.

For example, a government so when that service is contracted by a government department, to a non-government organisation, then essentially the government should provide access to interpreters, either directly - through paying for interpreter costs when they arise, such as the example I gave you, under the CAMS program - or indirectly, through Including this in the program funding. So then, it is upon the non-government provider to make sure they budget adequately within the funds to cover the costs of accessing interpreter services.

 

So, I know that - obviously all government, Queensland Government Services and agencies like Queensland Police, Health, Courts, Education, Child Safety, etc - are required to provide interpreters under the language services policy. And many of those who subcontract work from those departments will provide those services with access to interpreters.

 

But it varies in terms of whether they've wrapped that into the contract, or whether they provide you as (inaudible – audio problem).

 

Luke

Something just happened with the noise. I'm not sure whether everyone received that. Yeah, make deed and it looks like something very strange that you were talking like Darth Vader there for a second and some people are actually scared.

 

I think it's okay now so if you continue but - I'll just butt in if it happens again.

 

Donna

A little dip in my internet maybe. Okay so, it is important when you're developing new projects to make sure - on new programs that interpreted costs are factored in, in some way.

 

Many - well, I know that federally, the settlement services have to incorporate the contracts - the costs into their contracts. Previously, there was more of the, sort of, unlimited access, but that's changed. So it really depends on what your programs are.

 

However, the Commonwealth does fund interpreter access for quite a few different services, I guess. Although many of those particular services don't necessarily always use the access to interpreters that they have. So for example, real estate agents can access telephone interpreting. They just have to register with TIS, and they get a code.

 

And it's good to know these things because if you're working with clients who are running into barriers, you can help by advocating, for example, for a client's real estate agent to go register and work with interpreters to make sure that your clients understand what's going on in their housing, for example. Obviously, GP’s, medical practitioners have access. Some allied health services also have access via their PHN, but that's still only limited in some regions.

 

Centerlink has their own pool of interpreters. Local Government can access interpreters through the federal system as well, and pharmacy importantly. And also just the National Disability Insurance Scheme has greatly improved access to interpreters, although many services may not know that.

 

So it's really important to spread the word that providers can access interpreters to assist with plans - both the implementation and the development of NDIS plans.

 

Okay, and finally, just some take home messages.

 

Practice makes perfect. I don't know how many of you have actually gone through the process of engaging an interpreter.

 

Sometimes people find it a little bit daunting, but it is a really good skill to have and all you need to do, is really take that first step and practice. The more you practice - the more you engage interpreters - the easier it gets, and you start to feel more comfortable and more in control. So don't be put off by the initial awkwardness you may feel. Everyone feels it.

 

The benefit to your clients, and the quality of your service will far outweigh any of that, that uncomfortableness. Work with your interpreter as a fellow professional and part of your care team - they can help you a lot. It's not their job to give you cultural advice and all of that sort of stuff, but they can help you with that process of making sure the communication is clear. And if you work with them as a fellow professional, then things will go much better.

 

Also address issues that arise - both positive and negative, don't ignore them. So if you do have a not so good interaction with an interpreter, make sure you address that - either with the interpreter at the time in, you know, debriefing. Or, if necessary, you go to the language service provider and NAATI if it's not - if the interpreter is not doing the right thing. And at the same time when you get a really good interpreter, and it's a great experience, make sure you tell them that.

 

Again, they're subcontractors - they're out on their own, they often don't get positive or negative feedback. And please, you can lead the way for advocating for working with interpreters more frequently and effectively.

 

You can help by consistently identifying the need for an interpreter. By familiarising yourself with the bookings process in your organisation, and being a mentor or a buddy to others in the organisation who may be nervous or reluctant to engage interpreters, share the positive stories so that you encourage more and more engagement of interpreters. And that will benefit everyone. So we definitely encourage you to do that.

 

Ah, now we've got - do we have time for any more questions or comments?

 

I will be sending you a feedback form, so please complete that. It will help us to make improvements, and we'd really love to get your feedback. Also, I have a lot of resources which I'll be sending you through within the presentation. So here you’ve got a whole bunch of links in terms of different standards, different guidelines for a variety of different contexts, the NAATI website, links to Deaf Services, and also some videos of examples of interpreting - which are quite helpful as well.

 

There's also quite a bit on the TIS website, and I've got a link to a YouTube video which gives hints and tips for working with interpreters as well. And more information about cultural profiles and some - a really handy little appointment letter translation tool, which comes from New South Wales - there's a link there.

 

I don't know if you can see that - I can't point to it. So anyway, have a look through all of that stuff. And finally, I'd just like to acknowledge that the content for this training was originally developed in consultation with the Queensland Accessing Interpreters Working Group - you can find out more about them on our website.

 

And also it includes some modified content from a really good resource which I've provided a link to, that was developed by Children's Health Queensland, and some content as well from the Centre for Ethnicity, Culture and Health in Melbourne.

 

So, thank you, everyone.

 

Luke

I think that's – a lot of information Donna. Thanks very much, everybody. Really appreciate it. Have a great day. And please get in touch if you'd like to follow up.

 

Donna

Thank you.

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