Kimberley Interpreting Service PDF Print E-mail

Background

Olive Knight, Tea C. Dietterich & Gail Smiler
Olive Knight, Tea C. Dietterich & Gail Smiler
There are over 40 traditional indigenous languages in the Kimberley Region and many Aboriginal people speak English as a second, third, or even fourth language. Aboriginal people who are able to deal with everyday matters in English may experience difficulties when faced with the `high' English or specific technical terminology employed by doctors, lawyers and police officers.

In 2000, Mirima Council, Kununurra applied to the Western Australian Department of Employment and Training for funding as part of the Enterprise Initiatives Program. The money was used to establish the Kimberley Interpreting Service (KIS): an organisation that aims to raise awareness of the need for interpreters in the local community; act as an agent matching interpreters to jobs; provide training and professional support to interpreters and the professionals who use them; and ensure the ongoing future of the service.

The Kimberley Interpreting Service (KIS) is an initiative of Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring, Language and Culture Centre in Kununurra with the support of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre.

KIS is the only Aboriginal Interpreting Service in Western Australia, providing skilled, NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) accredited Aboriginal interpreters within WA, training new interpreters, and providing ongoing professional development.

The Service provides an invaluable tool for the improvement of service delivery and communication within the Kimberley Region.

The profile of Aboriginal language interpreters has been raised due to the establishment of the Aboriginal Interpreter Service in the Northern Territory in response to community concern over the effects of mandatory sentencing. Similarly, there are concerns in Western Australia, which has the highest indigenous incarceration rate per head of population in the world (Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, Report to United Nations Committee Against Torture, November 2000). The right to an interpreter is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and is contained in several recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1995).

KIS has established in the last 15 months a framework in which the service can operate.This has included preparing promotional material, such as a web site, newsletters, brochures, Videos, press releases, developing an administrative system, meeting with interpreters and potential interpreters to discuss their training and employment needs, and building links with government agencies who are likely to use the service and organisations who could help and support the service (NAATI, Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service,TIS,AUSIT etc).

Today

The venture proved to be a success and especially the legal arena embraced the Service from the day it was established.

Today, the Kimberley Interpreting Service provides accredited Aboriginal language interpreters for use in a wide range of contexts, including legal, medical, and welfare. There are over twenty five accredited interpreters across the Kimberley and KIS provides a central booking service, matching clients to interpreters. So far, interpreters have worked in Derby, Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Balgo, Kununurra and have been used in court cases in Darwin.

Furthermore, KIS is organising professional development courses for interpreters to make sure they keep up to date with technical terminology and new forms of interpreting, e.g. telephone interpreting. KIS also organises training courses for new students to become an interpreter and currently 4 new interpreters from Fitzroy Crossing are being trained.The languages currently covered are Kriol, Kija (East Kimberley), Jaru (East Kimberley),Walmajarri, Bunuba, Nyikina, Goonyiandi, Mangala (West Kimberley), Murrin Patha (North Kimberley/NT) and Kukatja (East Kimberley).

KIS sends out its newsletter every 3 months and organises functions to maintain networking with staff, users and decision makers. Simply send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to register for the free newsletter and general KIS news.

As the funding year comes to an end, KIS is currently trying to cove@ ongoing funding f811 its
operations.ATSIC has refused a funding application and currently the WA Department of Justice and the Federal Attorney General's Department in Canberra are both being approached to jointly fund the Service.The NT Aboriginal Interpreter Service is funded by the NT Government and the Federal Attorney General's Department (Crime Prevention Branch) as part of the NT Agreement.

Interpreter Facilities

KIS plans to improve facilities for interpreters and will try to organise an "interpreter room" at the Courts.This was currently achieved in the NT where the Magistrate's Courts in Darwin and Alice Springs now offer a small refuge for interpreters, where they can prepare themselves adequately for their assignments.

KIS also plans to offer "on site" interpreters to Courts and Hospitals in the Kimberley Region. In addition to specific bookings there would be a voice of the and number of standing block
bookings arrangements in place in various legal and health settings around the Kimberley. Under this arrangement Interpreters are booked to reflect the dominant languages in particular situations at particular times, generally on a rolling roster basis. These Duty Interpreters will provide ad hoc services for health professionals and legal practitioners who are dealing with clients who were not "booked ahead". Duty Interpreters are particularly useful for accidents and emergency (health) and bail and arrest days in court.These arrangements exist currently for a number of hospitals and courts in the NT. Aboriginal Interpreter Services still have a long way to go.

However, by raising awareness especially in the health, legal and community sector, the profile of Aboriginal Interpreters will improve in the near future.

Contact Person:
Tea C. Dietterich
Kimberley Interpreting Service Tel: 08 9169316 I
Fax: 08 9168 2639

Website: www.wn.com.au/mirima
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
PO Box 162 (Speargrass Road) Kununurra,WA 6743
FATSIL Indigenous Languages Forum Sydney 2002 - Registration Form