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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1543

Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

The Government has recognised the paucity of interpreter and translator services available in the community and has taken the initiative in assessing the extent of these deficiencies through a comprehensive national survey of interpreter and translator needs. This has borne out my belief that there is a need not only for more interpreters but for better interpreters. It shows also that the lack of recognition of interpreting as a profession in Australia is reflected in the lack of special courses which are capable of providing this status. I intend to table the report of this survey at an early date.

Some progress in meeting interpreter needs has been achieved through a growing range of services in my Department. These include the employment of more than 120 bi-lingual or multi-lingual officers; the recent appointment of 48 specially qualified multi- ' lingual welfare officers, including 16 to work in the education field, and the provision of a telephone interpreter service in no fewer than 42 languages in Sydney and Melbourne and soon to be extended to other States. I raised the question of interpreter services in State government administration and health and legal institutions with State ministers for immigration at a conference on 11 May 1973. The pro* vision of adequate interpretation must be seen as a normal service to be provided as part of community communication. State and local governments and statutory authorities and commerce and industry must each play its part.

The Australian Government is seeking to stimulate this community interest and in the spread and status of interpreters. There has been close collaboration with the Australian Council of Social Service and a number of colleges of advanced education, technical colleges and private institutions which have shown an interest in providing courses for interpreters. The Immigration Advisory Council has established a subcommittee to study the problem of interpreter services in the community. The survey report on interpreter needs has been given selective distribution to academics with a special interest in this field and to State governments. The Australian Government departments which provide personal services to the community have, in particular, received copies of the survey report and been invited to comment on its findings as they affect their functions.

I would pay tribute to those non-governmental organisations and enterprises - in particular Good Neighbour Councils, welfare organisations throughout the community, national groups, and bank migrant information services - which do provide interpreter services. But I emphasise the task should not be left to them or to governments alone, but is a responsibility that should be accepted and shared by all sectors of the community whose economic progress and personal lives have been enriched by the contribution migrants are making.

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