N.T. provides $1 million for Aboriginal interpreter services PDF Print E-mail

THE Northern Territory Government has recently announced the allocation of almost $1 million in the 2000-1 Territory Budget, for the provision of interpreters in Aboriginal languages. Announcing the changes, Northern Territory Chief Minister, Denis Burke said that agencies involved in the 'essential services' areas of the legal and medical sphere have been allocated a recurrent budget for the purpose of paying interpreters. The funding is additional to the money already expended for the interpreter training programs run by institutions such as Bachelor College and the Institute for Aboriginal Development.

Manager of the Language and Culture Centre at the IAD in Alice Springs, Joyce Measures welcomed the Government's move.

"It's pleasing to hear that the Northern Territory Government has finally recognized the very real need to provide funding for Aboriginal languages. I.A.D. has been providing these services to the indigenous communities of Central Australia for over 25 years.We hope that the consultation process with the NT Government on this important issue will provide for better delivery of services that are desperately needed."

The Territory Government had initially trialled an interpreter service earlier this year, within the Department of the Chief Minister, utilising expertise from the Office of Ethnic Affairs.The interpreter service is now located in the Office of Aboriginal Development. It has retained employees from the trial service, with additional funding for staff and operational costs to provide the service on a Territory-wide basis.

Under the new arrangement,Aboriginal Interpreter Service staff will take the bookings, locate interpreters, organise travel and assist with meeting and greeting interpreters wherever possible. AIS staff will pay the up-front travel and interpreter fees and then bill the client agencies for the cost of that service.

"Anyone can access the Aboriginal Interpreter Service, which will only charge the exact costs of the interpreter. No additional administrative costs will be passed on to the client." Mr Burke said.

The Office of Aboriginal Development will design and deliver training programs and material for interpreters in Aboriginal languages, and those who will be working with them.

The Chief Minister said the Northern Territory Government is committed to improving the health and justice outcomes for Aboriginal people, and to providing true equity in service. Mr Burke said this recent funding allocation was in keeping with the Northern Territory Government's commitment to building lasting and effective partnerships with Aboriginal Territorians.