The majority of newly arrived people from refugee backgrounds do not speak English or do not speak English well, yet research shows that credentialed, professional interpreters are only engaged for a small percentage of consultations in primary care.
Healthcare providers have a professional obligation to understand their patients’ needs and patients have the right to fully understand the information provided by healthcare workers. For people who have low English proficiency, working with a credentialed interpreter is the best way to ensure this.
Confidentiality is part of a credentialed interpreter’s code of ethics, and the engagement of credentialed professional interpreters form part of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards for General Practice and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia.
For more information about approaches to patient care regarding communication and interpreters please see the Refugee Health Guide.
Medical Practitioner Priority Line for free Interpreting services
Private medical practitioners and their practice staff can access free Interpreting Services to provide Medicare rebatable services to anyone in Australia who is eligible for Medicare. This service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.Find out more
Free Interpreting Service for allied health professionals
Some privately employed allied health professionals are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service (FIS) when delivering their services in a private practice located within approved Local Government Areas to patients who are eligible for a Medicare card.Visit
Fee-for-service interpreters for allied health
Interpreters are not generally funded for allied health services, however hospitals and community health centres receive funding to purchase language services.Find out more
Ethnologue online encyclopaedia of world languages
Find, read about, and research the world’s 7,000 known living languages.Visit
Communicating via an interpreter
This information sheet is one of a series produced by the Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health covering aspects of language services.Visit
Working with Patients when there are language barriers
A guide to accessing and using the Translating and Interpreting Service for primary care health professionals working in private practice.Visit
TIS National services for medical practitioners
Short 3 minute video that explains the interpreter services that are available for medical practitioners and a demonstration on how to use them.Find out more
How to Book an interpreter
The booking guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to book an interpreter via the pre-booked, video remote and on-site channels in TIS Online.Visit