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New NAATI director brings expertise in forensic linguistics and intercultural communication

NAATI’s newest director, Dr Michael Cooke cares about equal justice. So much so, that he has built his career around the need to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island language speakers with effective interpreting services.

Dr Michael Cooke will take up a position on the Board of Directors from 1 December 2017. He specialises in legal interpreting and forensic linguistics and is a NAATI recognised interpreter and translator in Djambarrpuyngu, one of the languages spoken by the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land.

Many First Australians speak languages other than English at home. This is more common for people living in regional and remote areas of Australia. Dr Cook’s early career in Arnhem Land as a schoolteacher, then teacher-linguist in a bilingual education program, began a trajectory that led into the world of Intercultural Communication and Forensic Linguistics.

That career path progressed from teaching, to teacher training at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, then linguistics and training Aboriginal interpreters, until Michael Cooke had his first formal engagement as a courtroom interpreter in 1990.

Dr Cooke’s early experiences interpreting in courtroom settings, revealed the prevalence of miscommunication wherever Aboriginal people of a non-English speaking background were engaged in the criminal justice system.

Witnesses and suspects with only very basic English proficiency were habitually interviewed in English. The result was that their evidence was rarely actually heard or was often misconstrued. There were very few accredited interpreters in any Aboriginal language and for most, there was no one at all.

Thus in 1991 Dr Cooke set about obtaining NAATI recognition as a translator/interpreter, training Aboriginal interpreters at the Diploma level at Batchelor Institute, and beginning his own formal training as a linguist, completing his PhD in 1997.

He has since published extensively in the field of language and the law while also providing expert evidence as a forensic linguist, conducting research, presenting at conferences and preparing expert reports to a variety of agencies.

In 2000 an Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) was finally established in the Northern Territory and Dr Cooke was engaged through his consultancy, Intercultural Communications, to train an initial pool of 90 interpreters (21 received NAATI accreditation) across nine Aboriginal languages, and to provide training in intercultural communication to over 200 police, legal practitioners and magistrates and to 280 health professionals.

He continued to provide this training support for a further eight years to the point where the AIS could stand as a substantial provider of interpreting services across the NT.

Dr Cooke’s formal engagement with NAATI began with chairing the NT Regional Advisory Committee in 1995 and has continued as a NAATI examiner and moderator, preparing candidates for NAATI testing, and with membership of expert panels for NAATI’s “Improvements to NAATI Testing Project”.

Now living in NSW, Dr Cooke also continues working as a practitioner (mainly in translation) and in supporting and advising others (students and professionals) in their engagement with Aboriginal language and communication issues.

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Celebrating 40 years of upholding the Translating and Interpreting profession

Nearly 80 people attended a cocktail party celebrating NAATI’s 40th Anniversary in Canberra on the 21st of September.  It was an exciting time, with the intention to have as many of NAATI’s friends and supporters together to celebrate NAATI’s 40 years in Australia’s interpreting and translating community.

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, in his role as Commonwealth Minister, announced the appointment of NAATI’s newest Director, Dr Michael Cooke.

NAATI CEO Mark Painting, with Commonwealth Minister Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja and NAATI Chair, Ms Kerry StubbsDr Cooke has been a member of various working groups related to the Improvements to NAATI Testing (INT) Project, and has extensive cross-cultural experience teaching and researching indigenous languages.  

Senator Seselja thanked retiring Chair, Ms Kerry Stubbs, and congratulated Voula Messimeri, who will take up the position as the newly appointed Chair from 1 December 2017.  Mr Giuseppe (Pino) Migliorino will serve as Deputy Chair.

In speaking to guests, Senator Seselja said that Ms Stubbs had “overseen significant developments, which have contributed to increasing the professional standing of both NAATI and the sector.”

“NAATI’s contribution to ensuring standards have developed considerably over the past 40 years and continues to command respect from the community and Australian governments alike.”

The Minister also announced a grant of $150,000 from the Australian Government, which will go towards work by NAATI, RMIT University and TAFE South Australia to develop a non-language specific online training course in basic competencies for interpreters.   

The focus of the project is addressing shortages of credentialed interpreters in new and emerging community languages. It will also be of particular benefit for people in regional, rural and remote areas, where people do not have the same access to interpreters, as they do in cities.

Senator Seselja went on to recognise, “NAATI’s role in ensuring the quality and standards of translators and interpreters is exceptionally valuable”.

 “It is essential that people in any community can communicate with each other”.

Senator Seselja also acknowledged the work of Professor Sandra Hale in leading the development of the new certification system, which will open in January 2018. 

NAATI CEO, Mark Painting welcomed the guests, paying respect to the traditional owners of the land, the Ngunnawal people.

“We are honoured by everyone who has been able to join us, particularly those who have contributed to, and shaped the organisation over the years,” he said.

Mark Painting credited the work of Ms Kerry Stubbs, saying that Ms Stubbs “took over the role of Chair in challenging times and steered the organisation through troubled waters. NAATI is in a much stronger position now as a result of her leadership.” 

Adolfo Gentile gave a short talk on the history of NAATI.

NAATI would like to thank all guests who were able attend the event, and made it such a memorable evening. We hope everyone had an enjoyable time and were able to revisit previous connections and make some new ones. We look forward to the next stages in NAATI’s exciting future.

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Work Practice Logbook Templates

If you need to submit work practice evidence as part of your transition application, 
use one of these Work Practice record templates to document your evidence.



These templates are in Microsoft Word documents. They will download directly onto your computer to your use. Usually this will be in your "downloads" folder.


Need to know more about how to Transition to certification?

You can use the transition wizard to work out what you will need to do for each individual credential. 

Generally, if your credential is already part of the revalidation system, you will not need to provide any additional evidence of Work Practice.

For credentials that are not part of the revalidation system, you will need to provide evidence of work practice in order to transition that credential.  

What type of evidence can I provide to prove my work practice?

You may choose to provide either:

  1. A reference letter/s from your employer or agency detailing the work undertaken; or
  2. A summary of work completed via a work practice record; or
  3. A reference letter from an accountant detailing the income generated by translating and/or interpreting.

If you cannot provide any of the above, NAATI may consider accepting a statutory declaration.

How do I apply for transition to certification?

The application form for accredited interpreters and translators transitioning to certification will be available on this website from 9am (AEST) on the 3rd of October 2017.

Practitioners who have preregistered will have their transition form emailed directly to them, along with other important information.   

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AUSIT launches new Tasmanian sub-branch!

AUSIT is holding a general meeting to formalise a new sub-branch for Interpreters and Translators in Tasmania. The meeting will take place on 30 September in Hobart. 

Tasmania's new sub-branch will make it easier to organise social get-togethers, networking events and create the opportunity to organise local PD events.

Presenters from Victoria and elsewhere have been able to offer various PD events in the past to Tasmanian practitioners, however AUSIT (at the national level and particularly at the branch level) has become increasingly aware that this is no real substitute for having an local entity on the ground.

The Tasmanian Sub-branch of AUSIT will help break the professional isolation that practitioners so commonly experience.

AUSIT invites and welcomes any other members who’d like to play a part (even a small one). 

Formal members of the sub-committee need to be financial members of AUSIT. Other people can be co-opted to serve on the sub-committee. 

Any AUSIT member who would be interested in formally being a member of a sub-branch committee is invited to download a nomination form and return it to the address shown on the form. 

Please submit the nomination form either:

  • by scanning and emailing to secretary@ausit.org by close of business on Thu 28 Sep 17, or
  • in person at the meeting.

For additional information or any queries, please contact the General Secretary on secretary@ausit.org, or the national office on 03 9895 4473.

Details of AUSIT General Meeting


12:45 - 13:30

A PD Event: Defending Translating/interpreting Decisions If Challenged will take place on the same day from 9.00 – 12.00 am


Upper Main Grandstand
Hobart Showground
2 Howard Rd, Glenorchy TAS 7010

Public transport information

Metro Tasmania’s regular Glenorchy service operates every 20 minutes from Hobart Bus Mall at weekends.  Take a Glenorchy Bus (routes 502, 510, 512, 520) from Hobart city to Bus Stop 23 on Main Road Glenorchy, cross the railway lines and enter off Howard Road.

Parking information

On-site parking is available at the Showgrounds.

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