THE Kimberley Interpreting Service has welcomed news the region’s Aboriginal language interpreters will soon be accredited formally, giving them the same status as other interpreters.
Last week, the Federal Government announced a grant of $286,000 to the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters to improve training and access.
Advocates have long argued for more training and services after a series of system failures.
In 2011, an Aboriginal grandmother from the Kimberley was not offered an interpreter in Perth before doctors explained her cancer treatment options. She then died weeks after learning an operation if carried out earlier might have saved her life.
WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said other horrific cases included a mother who gave her child the wrong medicine with fatal results, and a man who continually broke parole because he did not understand reporting requirements.
KIS chairman David Newry said the new funding was vital, as it would allow indigenous language speakers to access accredited interpreter training.
Mr Newry said the service was working with NAATI and the Kimberley Training Institute to accredit the diploma of interpreting it was to deliver to make sure it suited the region’s indigenous languages.
“This will put Kimberley Aboriginal language interpreters on the same footing as all other interpreters in Australia,” he said.
“We welcome the development of appropriate NAATI testing and are working closely with them on this – it is very important that our interpreters are able to demonstrate their professionalism in the same way as all other interpreters.”
Mr Newry said KIS also offered training to service providers across the region to help them improve
the quality of their engagement with Aboriginal people.
The service would continue to lobby the State Government to adhere to the WA language service policy and inform staff of when, how and why to engage interpreters.
KIS’ new funding is in addition to a $200,000 commitment Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier made to the service.
Ms Henderson said she also wanted more funding in other parts of WA where interpreting services did not exist.
“WA is such a large State, where many different indigenous languages are spoken at home as a first and second language,” she said.
“It is vital that the State receives funding for not only more interpreters in the Kimberley, but areas such as the Pilbara, Goldfields and Central Desert.”