Interpreter concerns

The Gippsland Multicultural Strategic Plan has revealed issues surrounding access to interpeters as a major need for multicultural communities in the region.

Lost in translation: Abraham Malual translated for his sister, Mary, when she needed to access local service providers. file photograph

Lost in translation: Abraham Malual translated for his sister, Mary, when she needed to access local service providers. file photograph

The report said a lack of access to interpreting services left some migrants and refugees to rely on family members to translate when accessing services.

"One person mentioned this sometimes limits her from fully disclosing her health conditions as she is uncomfortable talking about certain things in front of her son," the report said.

The report found members of the multicultural community often preferred online booking and registration to access services because "talking on the telephone is difficult and sometimes confusing".

Abraham Malual, who comes from a South Sudanese background, interpreted for his sister when she and her family arrived in Latrobe Valley in 2016 from a refugee camp in Kenya.

"I used to pick her up from her home and take her to doctor's appointment and employment service providers then [head off] to work," he said.

Mr Malual said members of the South Sudanese community were hesitant to see service providers because they felt some staff could be rude when they did not understand their clients.

At one time, he said, his sister went to an employment service provider and waited for hours to be assisted.

"People didn't even give notice she was there for three, four hours," he said.

"[It's] so hard to go to a service provider today, people are very rude and [it] scares people away. So we tell our members who just arrived that we're available [to translate] for them."

Gippsland Multicultural Services director Lisa Sinha said many service providers appeared to be unfamiliar with the needs of migrants and refugees coming to the region.

Ms Sinha said there were government-funded interpreter services that would not cost service providers.

"Services rely on a friend or relative and breach confidentiality and duty of care every time they do this," she said.

"The bulk of the problem is with service providers themselves because it's outside their comfort zone [how to work effectively with interpreters] so they muddle through."

Ms Sinha said telephone interpreters were "available 24/7".

She said it was also important for service providers to have a good understanding of the different migration pathways of people.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop