New protocols on Indigenous Language Interpreting for government

New protocols on Indigenous Language Interpreting for government

Indigenous Affairs Culture and Capability Indigenous Interpreters
Monday, 18 December 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Indigenous lady in blue shirt and black pants, Indigenous Man in blue shirt and jeans talking to lady in yellow colourful dress sitting on red chairs with an outlook to green trees.

Language is a core part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and it is vital that First Australians who speak an Indigenous language are able to access government services and information.

The vital role of Indigenous language interpreters has been further recognised by the publication of a new version of the Protocol on Indigenous Language Interpreting for Commonwealth Government Agencies. The new Protocol will form part of the Australian Government’s toolbox on how to best communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who speak native languages.

Updates to the Protocol have been made in line with the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s 2016 Report Accessibility of Indigenous Language Interpreters: talking in language follow-up investigation. The update outlines the importance of credentialed and registered interpreters to approximately 60,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who speak Indigenous languages (2011 Census).

The Protocol has been updated to embed the following core principles:

  • The Commonwealth Government recognises that language is essential to the wellbeing, culture and identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Language plays an integral role in maintaining the strength of Indigenous communities.
  • The engagement of Indigenous language interpreting is critical to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are effectively engaged with, and have equal access to, government services and opportunities.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a basic right to understand and be understood when communicating with government and service providers.

To complement the new Protocol the Australian Government has also created a series of fact sheets to help agencies and service providers continue to provide best practice services.

The updated Protocol will provide additional support to agencies and their service providers seeking advice on how to engage Indigenous interpreters following recent government commitments to increase support for native language speakers.

Read the new protocol and relevant fact sheets. To find an interpreter please contact the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service or the Kimberley Interpreting Service for Western Australia.