The COVID-19 health crisis, followed by the October floods in 2022, created many challenges for Greater Shepparton residents. However, one problem that continued to plague the community, specifically Shepparton’s multicultural groups, was the issue of translation and interpreting services. The new IMPARO program allows people to learn and study as translators and interpreters online.
However, one problem that continued to plague the community, specifically Shepparton’s multicultural groups, was the issue of translation and interpreting services.
In crises such as the above or in the situation of newly arrived migrants, there is a heavy reliance on non-professional interpreters and translators in the community. Without proper accreditation, the lines regarding the ethics of translating are blurry.
However, thanks to a Monash University project, the future of the region’s interpreting and translation services isn’t so grim. On Wednesday, November 22, a project report and digital toolkit, the Interpreting Mentoring and Professional Advancement Regional Opportunities project, was launched.
The project, developed in partnership with Wise Well Women with support from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, is a digital toolkit that will support translators and interpreters in regional areas. The toolkit includes helpful links, templates, glossaries and resources to support NPITs in the regional community in areas such as work, ethics of the role and translation tools, which will lead to gaining formal education for participants.
To become an official translator and interpreter, a person needs to complete courses that ultimately lead them to sit a test for NAATI accreditation. In creating this toolkit, NPITs from across regional Victoria worked with Monash University researchers to discuss what they saw as the most significant barriers to their work and achieving accreditation.
Issues identified included the inability to access specific training opportunities in regional Victoria, too much travelling required for NAATI courses, a lack of variety of languages taught, not paid for by HECS or government scholarships, and some one-off sessions that are available to NPITs don’t lead to NAATI accreditation. From this, participants recognised a new training course in a short time would not be possible.
However, they saw the need to take ownership of their learning and find other options to address the urgent need to access up-to-date and reliable training material.
Mrs Samadi’s first language is Hazaragi, for which she plans to get accredited for translation and interpretation. She’s been an NPIT in the Shepparton community for years now, and she’s found herself in situations where she doesn’t feel comfortable translating.
“Unknowingly, we just interpret for people whether it’s doing phone interpreting for free or just filling out forms for people for like Medicare, Centrelink, schools and immigration,” Mrs Samadi said. “There’s so much more that I don’t know, and there’s so much more that the community interpreters don’t know, but this toolkit helps bridge that gap until we can get that accreditation.”
Led by translation technology researcher Dr Margherita Angelucci at Monash University, the project was a combined effort between the Faculty of Information Technology’s Action Lab and the Faculty of Arts’ Monash Intercultural Lab. Co-investigator Professor Rita Wilson from the Monash Intercultural Lab said the toolkit ensures NPITs can access accurate support immediately.
“It prepares them (NPITs) better for doing the course and sitting the test, so the whole idea is just to try and build capacity,” Prof Wilson said. “We’re also keen to provide a platform where they can build their own networks.“So the idea is that if they’re all thinking of becoming professional interpreters, they can share with each other and connect.”
Currently, the toolkit is only in English; however, project co-investigator from Action Lab Dr Delvin Varghese said they had launched the project in what he described as its “middle stage”, so the next stage was to build on from there.
“One of the dreams we have is that the community volunteers here in Shepparton can take a bit of ownership over it and create resources in their own languages for it,” he said.