UWS raises the bar for court interpreters

Date: 09/05/2002

The University of Western Sydney has helped improve the interpreter services provided to people from non-English speaking backgrounds through an innovative new training program for legal interpreters.

Developed as a joint initiative with the Attorney-General's Department and the Community Relations Commission, the 'Interpreters and the Law' program has already graduated 200 specialist court interpreters. They will provide people from non-English speaking backgrounds with more accuracy interpreting in the complex NSW legal system.

By 2003, a total of 450 interpreters will have been trained in the 35-hour specialist intensive course. They will receive accreditation from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

A high quality legal interpreter service has been the topic of numerous government reports since the early 1960s. It is fundamental to ensuring access and equity to those whose first language is not English, according to UWS course co-ordinator, Dr Sandra Hale, a world authority on forensic linguistics and legal interpreting.

"The UWS training increases interpreters' awareness of recent research results on court interpreting, legal language, court procedures, ethical standards and their role as interpreters. It also provides them with a host of specialist skills to handle sensitive court cases such as sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.

"The program complements our existing interpreter training award courses at UWS. We have been training interpreters at undergraduate and postgraduate levels since 1984, and are recognised as world leaders in interpreter training and research.

"UWS also won the highly competitive tender to train the language volunteers for the 2000 Olympic Games, as well as other prestigious international projects, says Dr Hale.

UWS has expertise in both law and languages and this program has allowed us to combine these areas of expertise to create a first class course which will hopefully help interpreters adequately remove the language barrier for non-English speakers facing the law.

Dr Sandra Hale has also been involved in the NAATI guidelines for the Legal Interpreting specialist course, the Law Society's Guide to best practice Lawyers Interpreters Translators, has researched and published extensively in the area of court interpreting and is currently participating in the NAATI examinations review.

The 'Interpreters and the Law program' will be officially launched at the State Library of NSW on May 14 at 2pm as part of National Law Week.


Further media information:

Dr Sandra Hale
Course coordinator
Email: s.hale@uws.edu.au
Ph: 02 9639 2095

Mikael Kjaerbye
UWS Media Manager
Email: m.kjaerbye@uws.edu.au
02 9678 7418
0405 356 021

Adrian Kerr
Attorney General's Department
02 9228 8787
0408 168 540