How can my client access an interpreter?

2.1 At a doctor or specialist consultation?

2.2 At the pharmacy?

2.3 At the dentist, optometrist, psychologists or other private practitioners?

2.4 At a state school?

2.5 When engaging with the Queensland Police Service?

2.6 At Centrelink? 

2.7 At their local council office? 

2.8 When engaging with the Department of Transport and Main Roads? 

2.9 When engaging with the Department of Infrastructure and Planning? 

2.1 At a doctor or specialist consultation?

If your client is not confident that he or she can fully comprehend the kind of English that is used during a medical consultation, they should ask their local general practitioner about using an interpreter at no charge through the Doctors Priority Line.  

Through an arrangement with Translating and Interpreting (TIS) National, medical practitioners are entitled to access a free telephone interpreting service called the Doctors Priority Line. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Doctors Priority Line is intended for general practitioners and specialists to use when providing services that are:

  • claimable under Medicare
  • delivered in private practices
  • provided to non-English speakers who are Australian citizens or permanent residents.

Only doctors who are currently registered for the Doctors Priority line can access the service with TIS National. To access the Doctors Priority Line, doctors simply need to fill out the Medical Practitioners Free Interpreting Registration Form.

2.2 At the pharmacy?

If your client is not confident that he or she can fully comprehend the kind of English that is used when purchasing medical supplies at the pharmacy, they should ask the pharmacist about using an interpreter at no charge through the Doctors Priority Line

Free interpreting services are available to pharmacies for the purpose of dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications. This scheme is aimed at assisting pharmacists to communicate with people about the proper use of medications.

Visit the TIS National website for a  list of pharmacies that have registered for the use of the free interpreting service in Queensland. To register a pharmacy fill out the Medical Practitioners Free Interpreting registration form.

2.3 At the dentist, optometrist, psychologists or other private practitioners?

Currently there is no funding to cover interpreter costs when accessing interpreters for private practitioners that provide services that NOT claimable under Medicare.

Queensland Health practitioners, for example dentists, are funded to provide interpreters at no charge to the client if required.

2.4 At a state school?

Schools are required to provide an interpreter in situations where they wish to communicate important information to a family or student who has difficulty communicating in English.

When a parent or student requests an interpreter, he/she should be provided with one. It is acceptable for a school to engage an interpreter to assist him/her to communicate even if the client or a family member considers that he/she does not need an interpreter. Often in times of crisis or stress, a person may lose their ability to communicate effectively in a second language.

The presence of an accredited interpreter is important in certain circumstances such as obtaining “informed consent” (health, mental health, school enrolment), raising a record of interview or in the swearing of affidavits or statutory declarations. Costly mistakes leading to complaints may result from neglecting to provide an interpreter in these situations.

When assessing the need for an interpreter, schools should take into account other factors such as gender, levels of literacy, hearing impairment or other communication difficulties. The level of comfort of the client in the interview environment will also impact on the communication outcome even when an interpreter is present.

Interpreters can provide an interpreting service over the telephone or face-to-face. Face-to-face bookings need to be made ahead of time so plan ahead. Requests can also be made for male and female interpreters in sensitive or gender–specific interpreting assignments.

Deaf parents who require interpreters should ask the school to engage a NAATI qualified interpreter from Deaf Services Queensland.

2.5 When engaging with the Queensland Police Service?

Queensland Police Service has a Cultural Support Unit that can assist workers and clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds if they need matters clarified when engaging with or are having difficulty accessing interpreter services with police. The unit can advise who the Cross Cultural Liaison Officers and Police Liaison Officers are in each region who can assist you.

For more information, call the Cultural Advisory Unit on (07) 3364 3934 or visit the Queensland Police website.

2.6 At Centrelink? 

Centrelink provides interpreters at no cost to customers. Where necessary to support a claim, Centrelink also provides a free translation service for customer documents. Interpreters contracted by Centrelink are covered by confidentiality provisions and a Code of Ethics, which means customers can be reassured that any information learned through an interview conducted by an interpreter will remain confidential. Bilingual staff may be available in some Centrelink Customer Service Centres to help with brief customer enquiries. If an interpreter is not immediately available, Centrelink staff may use a telephone interpreter service to assist customers.

For more information phone Centrelink Multilingual Call Centre on 131 202 or contact your nearest Centrelink Customer Service Centre

2.7 At their local council office? 

Local Government Authorities are entitled to access free interpreting services to communicate with non-English speaking Australian Citizens or permanent residents on issues such as rates, garbage collection and urban services.

Each local council has an allocated TIS Client Code (an account number). When the client requests for an interpreter, staff can quote this number to arrange for an interpreter.

2.8 When engaging with the Department of Transport and Main Roads? 

If you need an interpreter please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50 and have them contact Transport and Main Roads on 13 23 80. If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment:

  • TTY users phone 13 36 77, then ask for 13 23 80.
  • Speak-and-listen users phone 1300 555 727, then ask for 13 23 80.
  • Internet relay users connect to the National Relay Service, then ask for 13 23 80.

2.9 When engaging with the Department of Infrastructure and Planning? 

If you have difficulty understanding a document and need an interpreter contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National on 131 450 and ask them to telephone the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning on 07 3227 8548.

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