The Victorian Refugee Health Network and Foundation House have identified that health care practitioners often provide services to clients of a low English proficiency, without engaging qualified interpreters. Late in 2011 Foundation House commenced a project investigating the barriers and facilitators to engaging qualified interpreters in health. Preliminary findings were considered at a meeting in April 2012 which was attended by health practitioners and representatives of the Australian and Victorian governments, specialist colleges and health services.
A discussion paper was released in May 2012 and distributed to key stakeholders seeking submissions. Over thirty responses have been received from health practitioners, government, specialist colleges, hospitals, community health centres and peak bodies.
Foundation House will publish a report in September 2012 with recommendations to address the barriers and encourage adoption of the facilitators in order to promote the routine engagement of qualified interpreters in health settings in Victoria. The findings and recommendations will be pertinent to health services nationally, because many of the issues identified are common throughout Australia.