Access to interpreters and translators

The Queensland Government Language Services Policy was launched in July 2011. This policy aims to enhance access to interpreters and translated information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to enable equitable access to the full range of services. These strategies include the engagement of professional interpreters in circumstances where people experience difficulties communicating in English, the provision of multicultural information and the training of staff in how to work with interpreters.

In 2014 the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs undertook a review of the policy. A copy of the Language Services Policy Review Report  is available for download.

Agencies are responsible for budgeting and paying for interpreters (including client initiated contact). Clients of Queensland Government agencies do not pay for interpreters.

Subject to Australian Government approval, some non-government, community based or non-profit organisations are eligible for free interpreting services. General practitioners and Members of Parliament are also entitled to free interpreting services. Further details about eligibility for free interpreting services can be obtained from the Department of Social Services website.

Queensland Government funded non-government organisations (NGOs) must be provided with adequate budget and assistance to engaged interpreter services for service delivery. The relevant funding department is responsible for informing funded NGOs of the process and arrangements for accessing interpreting services.

Interpreter access for Department of Communities NGOs to communicate with clients

Interpreter access for Queensland Health funded NGOs to communicate with clients

If you are funded by another Queensland Government department and are unsure of your process to access interpreters, contact your contract manager for more information.

Queensland interpreter card

  • The Queensland Interpreter Card can be used by any person who speaks a language other than English and needs or wishes to use an interpreter to communicate.
  • The card is free of charge.
  • A person may obtain one or more cards.
  • The card can be freely shared among people who speak the language indicated on the front of the card such as family members.
  • The card can be used at Queensland Government agencies and some local and Commonwealth agencies including Centrelink.

The National Interpreter Symbol and the Queensland Interpreter Card aim to help people with limited English proficiency access language services when using government services. The symbol should be clearly visible to identify agencies where language assistance is available. The Queensland Interpreter Card can be used to indicate when a person needs an interpreter in their language.

The Queensland Interpreter Card, featuring the National Interpreter Symbol, can assist clients to request an interpreter. Of similar size to a credit card, the card features an area to write the name of the language required. The card is distributed inside a multilingual brochure with basic information on how to use it. The brochure includes translations in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Croatian, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Cards are distributed to Queensland government agencies, community groups, and not-for profit agencies for distribution to their non English speaking clients. To order free copies of the cards, email Multicultural Affairs Queensland or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Translating and Interpreting Service also produces and distributes interpreter cards. For more information phone 131 450 or visit their website.

Resources to work effectively with interpreters and translated materials

Assessing the need for an interpreter  - a tip sheet to help you determine when and how to use an interpreter from the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health.

Translation: An introduction - a tip sheet for translating written information from the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health.

Employment with TIS National

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship operates the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National).  TIS National welcomes enquiries from Australian permanent residents and citizens who are interested in working as interpreters. TIS National is continually seeking to recruit people to provide interpreting services in various languages. For more information visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Interpreter services for the deaf

Deaf Services Queensland

National AUSLAN Interpreter Booking and Payment Service

National Relay Service

Frequently asked questions about interpreters and translators

How do I find a professional interpreter? How can my service or organisation access funding to get materials translated? How can my client access an interpreter at a doctor or specialist consultation, or at the pharmacy?  How do I access interpreters to communicate with my clients if my organisation is funded by Queensland Health?

For answers to these questions and more, go to FAQs on interpreters and translators

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