In this section
Around 80-90% (2014-2019) of consultations in the Immigrant Health Service occur with the assistance of an interpreter. For RCH staff, please also see
Interpreter services and
booking an interpreter.
Australia, interpreters are accredited through the National
Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (
NAATI). (Note 1). Recognition is granted in languages where NAATI does not have testing available for proficiency.1 In practice this means interpreters for newly emerging communities may have relatively limited experience working in the Australian healthcare system. Interpreters may have their
own speciality (e.g. health, legal or general interpreting); however they are bound by a common code of practice which emphasises confidentiality - see
AUSIT Code of Ethics.
AUSIT (The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators) is the national association for the translating and interpreting profession.
It is never appropriate to use a child or family member for
interpreting - information transfer cannot be guaranteed; it places a significant burden on the person interpreting (who may be exposed to sensitive/inappropriate information) and it changes the dynamics and power balance of the consultation.
Working with an interpreter is a skill like any other clinical
skill. It takes time and practice to become fluent in working with interpreters. There is a learning curve for both health staff and the interpreters. The following points have been compiled based on our experiences in Immigrant health and are aimed at enhancing
clinical care for children/families who speak languages other than English (Note 2).
Note 1: Technically interpreting is talking, translating is writing in another language.
Note 2: We have used an assumption that English is the default language of the consultation; this may not always be the case with multilingual health professionals.