The aim of the policy is for information and services to be open and accessible to individuals who may have specialist language needs whether alternative format or in a language other than English.
This policy applies to all programs delivered and funded by the Department for Communities in Western Australian.
This policy will also apply to any other entities that become part of the Department for Communities while this policy is current. This is a system wide policy and supersedes all policies related to language services in the Department for Communities.
The Western Australian Language Services Policy was endorsed by the Western Australian Cabinet in 2008 and applies to all State Government departments.
The Western Australian Language Services Policy states that State Government agencies need to:
§ Commit to the appropriate use of professional and competent interpreters and translators in the delivery of programs and services.
§ Determine when interpreters ‘must’, ‘should’ or ‘may’ be used based on legislative requirements, the particular service provided and the level of risk to customers’ rights.
§ Ensure that all staff who deal directly with customers are aware of how to determine the need for an interpreter.
§ Ensure that all staff who deal directly with customers are aware of how to access and use interpreting and translating services.
The Western Australian Language Services Policy sets out minimum standards that provide guidance for the circumstances in which interpreters or translators need to be used. A copy of the Western Australian Language Services Policy minimum standards is provided in Appendix 1 below.
3. Department for Communities Policy
The objective of the Department for Communities Language Services Policy is to improve the quality of information and services by ensuring that:
§ All individuals who need assistance with English or who are deaf or hearing impaired are provided with appropriate interpreting and translating assistance.
§ All Department for Communities staff who deal with customers have the knowledge and skills to identify the need for interpreting and translating services and appropriately offer, organise and use these services
§ The usage information about interpreting and translating services is appropriately captured for internal analysis.
Department for Communities staff will make appropriate efforts, based on an assessment of the circumstance, to provide information in an accessible manner. This may result in information being provided either in an alternative format or a language other than English.
4. Costs associated with Language Services Policy
Each services unit within the Department for Communities will meet the costs associated with their unit seeking and providing relevant translation and interpreting services.
5. Language Services Data Collection and Reporting for Monitoring and Continuous Improvement
Information shall be collated by service delivery units on a minimum data set to be endorsed by Corporate Executive. Annual data will be compiled at the end of each financial year and forwarded to the Manager, Research & Evaluation no later than 31 July. This information will then be complied annually to comply with compliance requirements and reported to Corporate Executive and within the Department for Communities’ Annual Report.
See Appendix 3 below.
7. Supporting Documents
§ Western Australian Language Services Policy available at ww.omi.wa.gov.au/omi_language.cfm.
§ Department for Communities Substantive Equality Policy
8. Relevant Legislation
Relevant Commonwealth Government, State Government and Department for Communities policies and legislation that impact on language services and policy development can be found in Appendix 2.
9. Review of this Language Services Policy
This Policy will be reviewed by the Principal Policy Officer, Strategic Policy, Policy & Planning, Department for Communities by December 2013.
10. Policy Authorisation
This document details the Department for Communities’ Language Services Policy to ensure barriers to access, information and services are identified, addressed and eliminated.
This information is available in alternative formats upon a request.
Minimum Standards for Using Interpreting and Translating Services
The Western Australian Language Services Policy (2008:9) outlines minimum standards that provide guidance for the circumstances in which an interpreter or translator needs to be used, to enable Western Australians who are unable to communicate effectively in spoken or written English, to access services.
1. Western Australians who are unable to communicate through spoken or written English are made aware of:
§ their rights to communicate in their preferred language; and
§ when and how to ask for an interpreter.
This is particularly important in the case of Indigenous people who are unable to communicate through spoken or written English. Due to the limited availability and use of Indigenous interpreters historically, Indigenous people would not request an interpreter as a matter of course.
2. The circumstances in which professional or competent interpreters and translators should be used are as follows:
2.1 Western Australians who are unable to communicate through spoken or written English are provided with professional level interpreters and translators in their preferred language where they:
§ need to be informed of their legal rights and obligations;
§ need to give informed consent;
§ are required to enter into a legally binding contract or agreement with the State and are not required to engage their own interpreter or translator;
§ require essential information to fully participate in decisions or proceedings relating to their rights, health and safety; or
§ require essential information to protect their rights, health and safety.
2.2 Interpreting and translation services are provided by professional interpreters and translators or persons who have completed an accredited interpreting or translating training course in all other situations.
2.3 In exceptional circumstances, where an interpreter is required, but a professional or competent interpreter is not available, a person who has not been trained as an interpreter, but who speaks and understands the language and English may be used. However, the decision to do so and the circumstances justifying that decision must be officially documented.
2.4 In the case of Indigenous Australians, experienced paraprofessional level interpreters should be used where professional level interpreters would otherwise be required, until such time as professional level interpreters in Aboriginal languages are available.
2.5. Persons under the age of 18 must not be used as interpreters or translators.
3. Staff whose duties involve communicating with people who are unable to communicate effectively in written or spoken English are able to assess the need for an interpreter or translator and have an understanding of cross cultural communication and awareness.
4. Interpreters and translators need to respect clients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality and maintain confidentiality in all matters relating to their assignments. Disclosure may only occur with client permission or as a result of the law requiring such disclosure.
Relevant Government Policy and Legislation
Relevant Commonwealth Government, State Government and Department for Communities policies and legislation that impact on language services and policy development in this area include:
§ Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity (Commonwealth of Australia 2003).
§ The Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society, (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, 1998). http://www.immi.gov.au
§ Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). http://www.hreoc.gov.au
§ Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986 (Cth). http://www.hreoc.gov.au
§ Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). http://www.hreoc.gov.au
§ The Western Australian Language Services Policy (2008). http://www.omi.wa.gov.au
§ The Western Australian Charter of Multiculturalism (2004). http://www.omi.wa.gov.au
§ Statement of Commitment to a New and Just Relationship between the Government of Western Australia and Aboriginal Western Australians (2001) http://www.dia.wa.gov.au
§ The State Government’s Policy Framework for Substantive Equality (2005) http://www.eoc.wa.gov.au
§ Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act (1984). State Law Publisher. http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation.statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_305_homepage.html
§ Carers Recognition Act 2004. State Law Publisher. http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_114_homepage.html
Department for Communities
§ Department of Communities Language Services Policy 2010
§ Department for Communities Complaints Management Policy 2010 (currently being reviewed). http://www.communities.wa.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Complaints%20management%20policy.pdf
§ Department for Communities Substantive Equality Policy 2010 (currently being developed)
§ Department for Communities Disability Access and Inclusion Policy 2010 (currently being reviewed).
Language services: Refers to actions taken by agencies to help people who have difficulty in communicating in English, including the engagement of interpreters and translators and the use of planned multilingual information strategies. A language service in relation to this Policy does not refer to language maintenance.
Interpreter: A person who conveys a statement verbally or by signing one language into another with accuracy and objectivity to enable effective communication between two parties who use different languages.
Translator: A person who makes a written transfer of a message or statement from one language into another with accuracy and objectivity to enable effective communication between two parties who use different languages.
Competent translators and interpreters: Competent interpreters and translators adhere to a Professional Code of Ethics, observe impartiality and confidentiality principles and perform interpreting and translating tasks accurately and faithfully.
Customers: This term is intended to be as broad and inclusive as possible and includes individuals or groups who may also be known as clients or customers of services provided by the Department for Communities or agencies contracted by the Department.
Department for Communities. Government of WA. Office of Multicultural Interests. The Western Australian
Relevant service managers must ensure that all interpreters and translators engaged in ‘child-related work’ as defined by the Working With Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 hold a current Working With Children Card before working for the Department for Communities.