Acting WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne has congratulated the Western Australian State Government on the trial of its Aboriginal Interpreting WA (AIWA) service.
“In 2006 the Commission engaged consultant Leela de Mel to explore an appropriate model for a state-based interpreting service for WA’s Aboriginal communities.
“Dr de Mel found one in five Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders living in remote areas of WA have difficulty understanding or being understood by service providers, which is a serious problem especially in the areas of health and justice,” Dr Byrne said.
Following Dr de Mel’s investigation, the Commission released the report Indigenous Interpreting Service – Is there a need?.
The report concluded there was not a sufficient number of interpreters to meet the needs of Aboriginal people and despite this need, available interpreters were also not being properly utilised.
“The report references health workers and presiding judges who stated an overwhelming need for Aboriginal interpreters.
“It documents patients not being able to follow important health advice and confessional interviews with police inadmissible in court due to the failure of police to obtain an interpreter,” Dr Byrne said.
He said he was pleased the State Government had decided to trial AIWA within the Kimberley health system where it was desperately needed and urged the government to extend the service throughout regional WA to help close the gap between all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Western Australians.
“There are also cultural implications to communicating with Aboriginal people which service providers may not be aware of, so trained Aboriginal interpreters are vital to successful service delivery throughout WA,” he said.
FOR ADDITIONAL COMMENT:
Communications Officer Sarah Johnston
(08) 9216 3900 mob 0409 137 843
Level 2, 141 St Georges Terrace, Western Australia 6000
Tel: (08) 9216 3900 –Fax: (08) 9216 3960
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.eoc.wa.gov.au