People with poor literacy skills

New migrants and refugees may experience language and literacy barriers when they are unable to access information in the manner and form they need to feel informed and confident to seek help or legal redress for domestic and family violence. Also, research demonstrates that literacy levels among adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly lower than those for other Australians. People with a low level of education, poor literacy in their first language, or cognitive disability may also experience these barriers. A victim in these circumstances may delay taking any action and may, over time, become more vulnerable to further violence.

There is a range of challenges service providers face in ensuring that clients with poor literacy and language skills are, and feel, properly supported in their engagement with police and court processes, and in securing their housing, financial and other needs. Some of these challenges may include:

  • Accessing and engaging interpreters who are trained in the client’s particular language or dialect, independent of the parties involved, gender appropriate, and sensitive to the complex issues related to domestic and family abuse
  • Translating legal and specialised terms into a language where those terms have no equivalent usage
  • Providing critical information in oral, visual and pictorial formats where the client’s literacy is not sufficient to comprehend a written translation
  • Cautioning against the use of the client’s children, friends or partners as interpreters
  • Ensuring the client’s confidentiality and privacy
  • Offering interpreting and translation services that are affordable and able to deliver on time according to court schedules
  • Providing additional resources to assist clients with practicalities requiring literacy and language skills, for example understanding and completing court and government agency forms, directives and orders.