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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 433


Dr Cass asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic 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 Macphee - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   I ) and (2) The information sought by the question would involve a manual examination of all departmental records and I am not prepared to authorise the use of the extensive resources that would be required to carry out this task. For the information of the honourable member a sample check of the records has indicated that the information being sought is not available in all cases.

(3)   As at 30 June 1980 eighty-nine (89) bi-lingual and multi-lingual staff of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs who have considerable contact with the public were paid a special allowance.

(4)   The Department has a Translation Service which facilitates communication with its migrant clients and constitutes a general translation facility for Commonwealth Departments as a whole. The Service also undertakes the translation for individual migrants of documents directly related to their settlement.

Full-time translators are employed in the Department's Central Office and in its Sydney and Melbourne Regional Offices. In the other States translation requests are accepted by the Telephone Interpreter Service and either carried out by TIS staff or referred to the translation units in the offices mentioned.

(a)   The languages covered by staff translators are: Arabic, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Serbian and Croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

In addition, the Department's Translation Service employs casual translators on a contract basis when necessary to carry out translations which are beyond the scope of the staff translators. With the aid of the casual translators the Service is able to cover virtually all languages likely to be required.

(b)   Details of the number of persons employed as interpreter/translators and their classifications are as follows:

No. of persons employed Classification (as at 30 June 1 980)

Grade 5 (Class 8)........... 1

Grade 4 (Class 6)........... 3

Grade 3 (Class 5)........... 8

Grade 2 (Class 4)........... 10

Grade 1 (Class 2/3).......... 8

Total.............. 30

In addition to operating its own Translation and Telephone Interpreting Services the Department is responsible for the implementation of agreements concluded in pursuance of

Galbally Recommendation 17, under which the Commonwealth shares with the States the cost of the establishment and operation of additional State operated translation and interpreting facilities in areas of prime State responsibility. Three agreements have been concluded to date, with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. These provide for the establishment of additional translation facilities in New South Wales and Victoria and interpreting facilities in New South Wales and South Australia. The implementation of these agreements is resulting in greatly improved access for migrants to State provided services expecially in such vital areas as health, welfare, law and education.

(S)   In addition to the Translation Service facilities for language communication between the Department and its migrant clients are provided by the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS). TIS now operates not only in Canberra and all State capital cities but has been extended in accordance with Galbally Recommendation IS and associated proposals to many provincial areas including Newcastle, Geelong, Whyalla, the Latrobe Valley, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

TIS also provides or supplements interpreting facilities used by other Commonwealth Departments including those having a large migrant clientele. The effectiveness of the telephone service provided by TIS can be greatly enhanced by the installation of special telephone equipment such as dual handset and ioudspeaking telephones and many of these have been installed in various Commonwealth Departments.







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