Interpreters and translators

  • [Former] Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Reconciliation Action Plan 2019 – 2021
    “This RAP provides a platform to introduce practical measures to promote reconciliation, and addresses some of the barriers faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in interacting with the Court. It also prioritises establishing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community leaders, agencies servicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, legal services and other stakeholders, in order to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to access the Court.”
  • This fact sheet summarises the ASPIRE Project findings about the impact of interpreting issues on women’s experiences of family violence.
  • See p6: ‘this report is a summary of consultations undertaken by the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity. As such, the views expressed in the document are those of stakeholders who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait women. The purpose of the document is to inform the thinking of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity in its deliberations on matters relating to access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

    At p. 7: The key pre-court issues consistently raised were:

    • Fear that reporting violence will mean that authorities will remove children;
    • Geographical barriers;
    • The impact of poor police responses;
    • Family and community pressure on women seeking to protect themselves and their children;
    • The complexity of legal problems experienced by Indigenous women;
    • Lack of access to legal assistance and advice; and
    • Lack of legal knowledge and understanding of their rights under the law.
    At p7: ‘Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had trouble communicating in the language of the justice system, adversely impacting on their ability to deal with police, engage with support services including legal representatives, and communicate with court staff and judicial officers.’
  • See the Executive Summary (p6-9) which makes a number of recommendations. It also identifies and discusses key pre-court barriers:

    • Lack of knowledge of legal rights;
    • Lack of financial independence;
    • The importance of integrated support services;
    • Poor police responses;
    • The impact of pre-arrival experiences and traumatic backgrounds;
    • Community pressure on women seeking to protect themselves and their children;
    • Uncertainty about immigration status and fear of deportation; and
    • The cost of engagement with the legal system.

    Identifies communication barriers: Working with interpreters:

    • Lack of clarity about who is responsible for engaging an interpreter;
    • Failure to assess the need for an interpreter, or incorrectly assessing need;
    • The skill of interpreters being engaged;
    • Lack of awareness amongst judicial officers and lawyers about how to work with interpreters;
    • Engaging interpreters who are inappropriate in the circumstances; and
    • Unethical and poor professional conduct by interpreters.

    Identifies barriers to full participation in attending court:

    • The intimidating process of arriving at court;
    • Safety while waiting at court;
    • Lack of understanding of court processes;
    • Difficulty understanding forms, charges, orders or judgments;
    • Courtroom dynamics;
    • The impact of attitudes and actions of judicial officers;
    • The need for judicial officers to receive cultural competency training;
    • Lack of availability of men’s behaviour change programs; and
    • Abuse of court processes by perpetrators.
  • Law Society Northern Territory, Indigenous Protocols for Lawyers (second edition, 2015).

    This handbook is written for lawyers and identifies and discusses six protocols to assist lawyers in communicating with their clients. See p5 which sets out the six protocols. The remaining part of the document discusses these protocols in depth.

    Protocol 1: Assess whether an interpreter is needed before proceeding to take instructions.
    Protocol 2: Engage the services of a registered, accredited interpreter through the Aboriginal Interpreter Service.
    Protocol 3: Explain your role to the client.
    Protocol 4: Explain the relevant legal or court process to the client prior to taking instructions.
    Protocol 5: Use ‘plain English’ to the greatest extent possible.
    Protocol 6: Assess whether your client has a hearing or other impairment that may affect their ability to understand
  • National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, ‘Outline of NAATI Credentials’ (Version 1.0, October 2010).
    Summarises the various levels of NAATI accreditation, including what the accreditation enables interpreters and translators to do.