September 30, 2022

International Translation Day: A World Without Barriers

Today is International Translation Day (ITD) – a day to recognise the efforts of language professionals, both interpreters and translators alike. ITD,  held annually on 30 September, also pays tribute to the work our interpreters do which fosters understanding, bridges language gaps and successfully facilitates communication.

The theme for this year’s ITD celebration is ‘A World Without Barriers’.

In Australia, interpreters and translators begin their journey with training before sitting a certification test with NAATI – the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. This pathway includes steps covering language proficiency, and ethical and intercultural competencies. Passing the certification test means an interpreter and translator becomes a certified practitioner, allowing them to practise across a broad range of disciplines from medical, legal, community and other areas requiring language services. This is what sets professional interpreters and translators apart from a bilingual person.

As part of the care that Northern Health provides to the community, including our CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities, we have TALS – the Transcultural and Language Services Department. TALS plays a major role in ensuring Northern Health is culturally competent via the provision of high-quality language services comprising professional interpreting, translation of medical material, transcultural training, research and education.

The TALS team is an award-winning entity with over 40 in-house staff providing interpreting services on more than 50,000 occasions a year, in over 100 different languages. Languages spoken  at Northern Health range from the most popular, Arabic, Assyrian, Chaldean, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Punjabi, Italian, Macedonian, Persian, Serbian, Croatian, Turkish, Vietnamese, to the rarer language requests such as Hakka, Oromo, Tagalog and Somali.

TALS also delivers training such as cultural competence training, aimed at Northern Health staff and students, and manages an extensive translation database with hundreds of medical documents translated in the top eight languages.

Our TALS staff are NAATI certified interpreters and translators, which assures clinicians and staff that the message transfer to our patients and their families is clear, impartial, and accurate.

“This is why it is Northern Health policy to have a professional interpreter present in a medical consultation,” said David Le, TALS Manager.

Kostas Karamarkos, Greek TALS Interpreter, was a journalist and political advisor in Greece before migrating to Australia. “The right to be fully informed about your own health, in order to make appropriate decisions, is a fundamental human right. We are here to ensure that the accuracy and comprehension of the message is not lost,” he said.

Arabic, Assyrian and Chaldean Interpreter and Translator, Imad Hirmiz, who holds a postgraduate degree in translating and interpreting in Australia, worked as a refugee advocate before becoming an interpreter and translator at Northern Health.

‘‘Professional interpreters and translators act as a safeguard for both clinicians and patients, as it reassures quality of service provided by clinicians and ensures patients’ voices are heard and their cultural needs are supported,” Imad said.

Macedonian Interpreter and Translator, Slobodanka (Danche) Trajkovski, says, “Translation is not only about translating words, but rather about having the skills to convey the meanings and intentions, and to make them comprehensible for the person in their language.”

Danche has worked on government-funded multimedia projects, as well as been a broadcaster for the Macedonian SBS radio program before joining Northern Health.

Northern Health joins our interpreters and translators in celebrating this year’s International Translation Day, as we continue to work together to achieve the best possible health outcomes for our culturally and linguistically diverse members of the wider community.

Featured image (left to right): Kostas Karamarkos, May Khoshaba, Kire Stankovski, Nisreen Awad and David Le.