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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 567

Dr Cass asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 29 April 1980:

(1)   How many persons born overseas (indicating country of birth) are employed by his Department.

(2)   How many of these persons are employed on a (a) temporary and (b) permanent basis and in what classifications are they employed.

(3)   How many bi-lingual and multi-lingual staff members are employed by his Department in counter situations and/or in close contact with members of the public.

(4)   Does his Department have translating facilities; if so, (a) what languages are involved and (b) how many persons are working in the area and what are their classifications.

(5)   If his Department does not have interpreting and translating facilities, what arrangements are made for performing these tasks.

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1   ) and (2) Collective statistics on employees' countries of birth are not maintained in Australia or at overseas missions and I am not prepared to authorise the use of the extensive resources which would be involved in manually extracting the information required from appointment and staffing records.

(3)   Three officers, with linguistic skill, have counter duties in state offices; the interpreter facilities of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs are also used as required. At overseas missions counter staff are bilingual or multilingual where English is not the official or spoken language of the host country.

(4)   and (5) My Department does not have staff engaged full time on interpreter/translating duties in Australia but those who are fluent in a foreign language translate less complex texts and act as interpreters as required. All major languages are covered in this way. When more complex translating requirements arise, the services of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs are utilised. Positions of interpreter/translator on the locally engaged staff establishment are provided as necessary at overseas posts.

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