This report documents findings from a two year study that was undertaken in response to regular reports from Foundation House clients with low English proficiency about not being provided with a credentialled interpreter when accessing health care. Reports from other sources indicate that the issue is widespread and longstanding in Victoria and nationally.
The study examined a range of evidence about the barriers to – and facilitators of – the engagement of interpreters, as experienced by the health sector and its practitioners. Based on the evidence examined, recommendations are made in relation to:
- Strengthening legislation, organisational and professional guidelines and standards
- Closing gaps in Commonwealth funding for interpreters
- Ensuring Victorian Government funding for interpreters for state administered and funded health services is commensurate with need
- Adjusting the national funding formula for hospitals to provide weighting for the engagement of interpreters when patients have low English proficiency
- Encouraging health services and tertiary institutions to routinely provide training on working with interpreters in professional development and professional practice education
- Promoting organisational development to ensure policy and practices are in place for effective engagement of credentialled interpreters to meet a variety of demands across language groups
- Developing initiatives to ensure the supply of interpreters in new-arrival languages and the capacity of the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) to test in these languages.