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PD opportunity: interpreting in the Magistrates Court

Did you ever interpret for the police or courts? If not, are you planning to take on interpreting assignments for the police or courts in the future? If you answered yes, then this free workshop is for you.

Interpreting in the Magistrates Court is the second workshop in a series of Professional Development workshops WAITI is organising in  2017 to help interpreters cope with the challenges of interpreting in legal settings. The workshop will be presented by the Deputy Chief Magistrate of the Perth Magistrates Court.

Meet the Presenter

Elizabeth Woods was admitted as a legal practitioner in 1984. She was a Magistrate from 1999-2000 and was appointed Deputy Chief Magistrate of Western Australia in 2000.

Key Details

  • Date: Wednesday 5 April 2017
  • Time: 3:30pm to 6pm (4pm start)
  • Venue: Court 37, 501 Hay Street Building, Perth, 6000
  • Cost: Free!
  • RSVP: please email info@waiti.org.au by 27 March 2017
  • Places are limited. Attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.

This workshop is a joint venture between the Western Australian Institute of Translators and Interpreters (WAITI) and the Perth Magistrates Court.

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Enter now: languages as a life changer competition

Languages in the Mainstream is a 12-month partnership project between the Modern Language Teachers Association of Western Australia Inc (MLTAWA) and the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI). 

The project involves the delivery of a series of public events throughout the year that promote language learning and will culminate in a revived, state-wide acknowledgement and celebration of Languages Week from 7-14 August 2017. 

Excitingly, MLTAWA have now opened applications for their languages as a life changer competition.

The Competition

  • Share your personal story about how language learning has changed your life:
  • When did your love of languages begin?
  • How has language learning impacted on your life?
  • Do you have a favourite quote about language or language learning? Why does it resonate with you?
  • How has language learning enriched your life, opened new pathways and doors and changed your outlook on life?


This competition is open to all ages, although the short description category via Facebook is only open to adults (18 years or older). The entrant must live in Western Australia and hold a valid Australian residency visa or be an Australian citizen. Entrants under 18 years of age participating in the longer description category must provide a signed and scanned Declaration Form and attach to their email.


  • Short (up to 100 words) description (LITM Facebook group) for the People’s Choice Prize.
  • Longer (up to 250 words) description for the Judges Choice Prize.
  • Descriptions should be written (predominantly) in English.


  • People’s Choice: the post with the highest number of ‘likes ‘on the LITM Facebook group before 14 August, 2017 will win $100.
  • Judges Choice: the top 4 longer (250 word) descriptions chosen by the judges will each receive $100. Their stories and photographs will be posted on the MLTAWA website and may be featured during Languages Week celebrations from 7-14 August 2017.

Click here to learn more about the submission process along with the judging criteria. 

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Staying positive about disruption

By Sam Berner

Disruption is staring us in the face. We read about it online, hear about it in the news, and participate in it almost on daily basis. Using Uber? Paying by touching your smartphone? Checking out at Woolworth through self-checkout? Booking accommodation on BnB? Telling a cafe owner off by threatening a one-star review on TripAdvisor? Zooming into meetings? All these and more are in a way or another disruptions to how things were done in the not-so-distant past.

Yet as translators we are led often to believe that disruption must be about doing translations better and faster for cheaper. In fact, preferably for free. This is not totally correct. Disruption is primarily about innovation. It also about coming up with solutions to things that could not be done before or to things that were annoying and inefficient in the way they were done.

Remember the days of bulky typewriters? PCs that weighed a ton? running out of RAM? printers that were so slow they encouraged coffee breaks? Xerox machines with perpetual jammed hiccups? fax machines that ran out of carbon paper in the middle of an important job? I am sure few of us would want to go back to working that way.

Everything that improved our modus operandi - from the access to knowledge and professional networks online to CAT tools and electronic termbases - disrupted the way we work. However, it wasn't all positive. The same portals that open global market opportunities to us, also expose us up to global competition.

If we were once big fish in a small pond, we are plankton in an endless ocean. The widening of our horizons meant we are better informed, provided we can deal with information glut. The speeding up of communications means we can access help at our fingertips, but it also means that the clients expect us to be accessible at their fingertips 24/7.

Disruption brought with it TM and its anagram MT. Both help us work faster if we know how to use them, but with these tools come the dubious blessings of ambiguous intellectual property and post-editing. Many practitioners complain that translation quality is suffering and this is also abetted by the disruption known as crowdsourcing.

As I write this, more disruption is predicted, this time from artificial intelligence and machine learning. Welcome to the possibility of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). For the uninitiated, a simplified explanation would be that we are teaching computers to use language like humans do.

Dr. Henry Liu, President of the World Federation of Translators (FIT), called NMT all “hype” during his presentation at the University of Bristol in February 2017. In its position paper on the future of the profession, FIT was more circumspect about what effect. NMT will have on translators – yes, there is progress, but no, it won’t happen tomorrow and meanwhile we must continue working and strengthening the profession.

In the next paragraph, however, is a call to action:

“professional translators have to adapt, be creative and develop business models that make the most of the latest technologies. These models could include various types of added value or involve translation services provided as part of a diversified offering. New innovative ideas are needed.”

In short, disruption is here, we just won’t call it by its name.

Disruption is a two-sided coin, but we do have a bit of say on which side we want it to fall. That ability to decide is called learnability. In January this year, a survey of 18,000 employers across all sectors in 43 countries, published at the World Economic Forum in Davos, showed that,

“One in five employers (19%) expect technological disruption to increase jobs as they adapt to the future of work and six in ten employers (64%) expect to maintain headcount if people have the right skills and are prepared to learn, apply and adapt.”

This means that, regardless of how artificial intelligence will develop, we cannot just continue doing what we have always been doing, the way we have been doing it. The learn, apply and adapt principle is about learning to code, applying the code creatively to our work, and constantly adapting to an environment in which change is exponential.

In August 2017, AUSIT will host FIT’s 21st Congress in Brisbane, and the main theme is, you guessed it, disruption. A golden opportunity to listen to people in the know, to debate and to enrich your professional knowledge.

Remember: learnability is the key.

Sam Berner is currently the principal partner of Arabic Communication Experts, one of Australia’s leading translation and cross cultural training services specializing in the Middle East. Having spent over 30 years translating, Sam continues to mentor and motivate many aspiring translators to expand their vision globally. She is also an active AUSIT member and a former national president.

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The sign language interpreter and risk management

By Zane Hema

I saw an advertisement for a job in risk management that prompted me to think how risk management is what we do as sign language interpreters. In the business and financial environments, risk is part of daily life and companies and institutions structure themselves in order to manage risk. The types of risk include credit risk, financial risk, operational risk, technology risk, insurance risk and regulatory risk.

The professional skilled in risk management has undergone specialised training and possesses the ability to compile, analyse and evaluate data and report on how to either avoid or reduce risk to the well-being of an individual, organisation or business. There are a number of things they do to achieve this. For this article I will refer to two:

  • (a) being conversant with relevant legislation, contractual and government policy; and
  • (b) being able to compile and examine data and applying a variety of criteria, so requiring excellent skills in analysis and evaluation.

In the interpreting environment, risk is a part of our everyday practice on two levels. The interpreter the person is at risk; this could be from fatigue, from vicarious trauma, from Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) or other occupational hazards. The interpreter’s interpretation is at risk; risk of lacking equivalence, risk of not being understood or worse being misunderstood.

Like the risk manager, the interpreter has undergone specialist training and is conversant with the Code of Ethics, but can also access data from a range of sources, such as literary work, articles, research, PD sessions, peer conversations, conferences, media and many others, that reduce any risk.

An example is data from the research of Cokely which encourages the interpreter to allow enough time to process the source text in order to reduce the risk of omissions, additions, substitutions, intrusions and anomalies (Cokely, 1986). Another example comes from Dean and Pollard who encourage the interpreter to develop control measures to mitigate risks from environmental, paralinguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal demands placed on them (Dean and Pollard, 2001).

Witter-Merithew and Stewart make a case for reducing risk to consumers of interpreting services by the interpreter, novice or veteran alike, developing a solid foundation in ethical fitness and decision-making (Witter-Merithew and Stewart, 2006). Woodcock and Fisher, in their work Occupational Health and Safety for Sign Language Interpreters report extensively on ways the interpreter may reduce risk or personal injury by offering a wealth of advice and a range of exercises (Woodcock and Fischer, 2008).

So being familiar with the Code of Ethics, its purpose and its content is important. Analysis and evaluation of a range data provides new ways of understanding what lies behind our actions and their consequences and thus provides opportunities for us to better manage the risk to our service and those who rely on it.

Zane Hema is a professional Auslan interpreter but originally trained as a British Sign Language interpreter completing his Post Graduate Diploma in 2000. He also works as an international interpreter educator and is the former President of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (for England, Wales & Northern Ireland), Vice-President of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters and Secretary of World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. He gained his first NAATI accreditation in 2014. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.  

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