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Speaking your language: Indigenous interpreters boost access to services


Indigenous woman with long black hair wearing black clothing stands in front of the Aboriginal, Australian and Torres Strait Islander flags. In the background is a glass wall behind which is an office.
Susan Lampton promotes use of Indigenous interpreting services (Photo courtesy of the Department of Human Services)
2 Mar 2018

Indigenous interpreter services are important in the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They enable effective access to government services and opportunities.

The Australian Government is expanding its use and availability of Indigenous interpreters. This includes on-demand interpreting services in 8 commonly spoken Northern and Central Australian Aboriginal languages that are now available over the phone through the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS).

The on-demand interpreting service is the first of it’s kind in Australia and the Department of Human Services (DHS) is the largest user. This service is in addition to a service that includes over 100 Indigenous languages and dialects that can be booked by appointment through the AIS, and Kimberley Interpreting Service.

DHS also has its own multilingual staff and Indigenous Call Centre staff who make its services and support more accessible.

Susan Lampton is a Juru woman and a Programme Support Manager in the Indigenous Language Team at the Department of Human Services. Her role is to promote the use of Indigenous interpreting services within the department, and maintain strong relationships with other organisations.

‘By talking to people in languages they understand, from a source they trust, the department can walk the talk when it comes to embracing and preserving our languages,’ Susan said.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons requires measures be taken so Indigenous people can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative matters.

Find out more

For further details on available resources and in language support services, visit the Department of Human Services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can call the Centrelink Indigenous Phone Service on 1800 136 380.