Many people of refugee backgrounds arrive in Australia with little or no English language skills and require professional interpreters when accessing health services. Using a professional interpreter helps to avoid misunderstanding, provides legal protection of the rights of the patient and the practitioner, avoids placing unjust stress on children and family members and improves confidence in the quality of care.
- Doctors and specialist medical practitioners operating in private practice have access to fee-free telephone and on-site interpreting via the TIS Doctors Priority Line (Ph. 1300 131 450). Booking an interpreter can be streamlined by obtaining a TIS Client Code number. See the TIS page for more information.
- In Victoria DHS funded services generally have access to a language services credit line or receive direct funding for language services provision.
There is a range of issues regarding access to language services, particularly adequate funding for services to meet the demand for interpreters and the insufficient supply of appropriately skilled interpreters for newly arriving communities. In April 2012 Foundation House published a paper ‘Exploring barriers and facilitators to use of qualified interpreters in health‘.
NAATI is responsible for accreditation of interpreters. There are a number of smaller newly arriving languages where testing is not available.