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FECCA releases strategic language policy report

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) held a thematic event on ‘Australia’s shifting linguistic landscape: Language policy and practice’ at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House) in Canberra last week.

The report provides an analysis of FECCA’s consultation and research to develop an evidence base on language service provision in new and emerging community languages, that is, languages spoken by individuals who came to Australia as humanitarian entrants over recent years.

FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “The provision of language services can enhance access to social services for migrants, assist to alleviate isolation and lead to better connections with the community”.

“Quality language services can also improve health outcomes and enable access to fundamental rights, such as the right to a fair trial. The availability of well-trained, competent interpreters to work with individuals in complex circumstances, such as family and domestic violence situations, is critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of these individuals”.

Training options for interpreters in new and emerging community languages is limited. In this report, FECCA has recommended an optimal training and accreditation model, based on a review of the various models across jurisdictions and the identification of good practice elements.

There is a strong need for a national, multi-jurisdictional program to increase the quantity and quality of language services to meet the language services needs in new and emerging languages.

With the diversity of Australia’s population increasing, a solution to address language services needs for emerging languages must be sustainable, flexible and forward-looking; one that can be contextualised and applied to specific languages and the changing circumstances of supply and demand.

Dr Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor at the University of Melbourne stated, “to build our interpreting, translating and mediation services we need high levels of proficiency, support for less commonly taught languages, flexibility and innovation”.

“It is in the interests of the entire national community that we support language services, because by doing so the entire community benefits”.

The proposed solution could also have a positive flow-on effect for addressing language services supply and demand gaps for other, more established languages, by developing evidence of good practice and innovative solutions. FECCA’s report outlines a way forward.

Click here to read the full FECCA report. Or you can click here to read a short executive summary. 

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NAATI develops new system for test setting and marking

NAATI are currently developing an examiner ePortal to improve the efficiency, transparency, reliability and ease of test material setting and marking.

With this in mind, the development of the examiner ePortal is the most significant change NAATI is implementing in 2016. It will address and improve the issues identified with the current test marking processes.

The examiner ePortal will be an expansion of the existing NAATI Online ePortal with additional functionality for current and active NAATI examiners to log in. The portal will allow our examiners to manage, update and mark test materials completely online.

It is intended that the examiner ePortal will interact with NAATI’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and updates made in either the examiner ePortal or the NAATI CRM will automatically push a live update to the other system.

We are currently in the development phase of this project with an expected delivery date of November 2016. This is a significant and exciting project which will deliver huge process and customer service improvements.

NAATI examiners are a critical part of the NAATI business and we aim to make their involvement as simple and seamless as possible by taking advantage of some of the fantastic efficiencies ICT technology has to offer.

NAATI will continue to publish updates on the progress of this project. Until then please join us in anticipating this step forward in NAATI’s systems.

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Stepping onto the stage

By Diana Caruana

Hesitant but excited at the prospect of trying something new, I accepted my first theatre interpreting gig. You know those times when your mouth works quicker than your brain and before you know it, you can't take your words back? That's how it felt when I said "yes".

The script arrived first. It was from a local, contemporary ensemble for emerging artists. Quite an abstract and thought provoking production and like a lot of theatre, was open to interpretation. As practitioners we all know the importance of preparation. This is certainly true for theatre interpreting.

Comprehending a script for a performance you haven't seen can be unnerving. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to watch the production with my mentor who is an experienced theatre interpreter. The significance of themes, timing, direction and the role of music became clearer.

I took note of scenes that may present challenges because of my stage position, anything visual (that didn't need an interpretation), idioms and humour that required a succinct interpretation. You barely have time to "unpack".

An intense forty-eight hours followed. Meeting up with my mentor to discuss notes and rehearse was invaluable. I was working on stage alone, but for the most part I didn't feel that way. She gave me guidance, advice and validated my understanding of the performance. I can see the importance of a consultant for the larger theatre productions. That support is necessary.

Working alone on stage, using role shift can be hard when you can't see what's happening behind you. While I tried to prepare for this, there were slight differences in the dialogue between performances. Just because there is a script doesn't mean it will be followed exactly.

There will be variances, actors do ad lib! Theatre interpreting is not just about conveying the message. It's about what you want the audience to feel and experience. "Give yourself permission to use free interpretation", was a great tip. Don't focus on words so much, but the meaning behind them. With this thought, I realise I can be freer with space too, without over doing it.

I have a greater respect for colleagues that live and breathe theatre interpreting. You're amazing and I look forward to learning from you in the future. Thank you to those that worked with me. You certainly made me feel comfortable, not so nervous and allowed me to enjoy the experience all the more.

Daina Caruana is a Paraprofessional Auslan Interpreter based in Sydney. She has been practising since 2013 after completing the Diploma of Interpreting (Auslan/English). Daina has a background in management and administration and has been immersed in the deaf community and culture since birth. She now enjoys interpreting in various settings and recently started interpreting in theatre. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.

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Social media engagement and maintaining a position of trust as an interpreter

By Loretta Walshe

As a major service provider in the Deaf sector, Deaf Children Australia (DCA) was invited to contribute to this continuing discussion on interpreters and their social media activities. We greatly appreciate the vital role that interpreters play in our workplace and our service provision.

Social media now plays a central role in the community, and particularly the Deaf community. There is an increasingly blurred line between our professional and personal lives which can be difficult for all of us to navigate. On the whole, we have greatly appreciated interpreters’ capacity to maintain confidentiality and impartiality.

DCA expects the same professional behaviour from the interpreters we contract as we do from our staff. We engage interpreters via language service providers, most of whom have social media policies, or references to the same in their employment agreements or staff manuals. Interpreters need to be aware of their obligations under their employment agreements and the expectations of the organisations who contract them.

As interpreters are privy to many confidential discussions and are in a position of trust, we have high expectations. We don’t want to have any doubts about their ability to maintain privacy and impartiality. We understand interpreters have connections across many parts of the Deaf community and it can be a fine balance between their professional responsibilities and personal lives.

Yet whether they do or do not directly provide interpreting services to DCA, we expect all NAATI accredited interpreters to refrain from getting involved in any sector politics, publishing damaging comments, or sharing confidential information.

If an interpreter engages in any debate in the Deaf sector and publishes his or her opinions, then turns around and wants to work with an organisation involved, it could be very difficult. It’s hard to maintain that professional reputation of neutrality in these circumstances.

So our advice is to use your best judgement when engaging online. Remember that what you  publish on your personal pages can reach far and wide, and live on for a long time - so you may want to put your emotions aside and reconsider. Even reposting or liking someone else’s inflammatory comments can damage your professional reputation as an interpreter. 

The best insurance is 'if in doubt...don't post'. If you make an error on a social media site, be upfront and honest about the mistake and correct it immediately. Remember to highlight that an amendment has been made.

If you are accused of posting something improperly, such as copyrighted material or a defamatory comment, deal with it quickly outside of the social media site (for example by telephone or in person), and then apologise and correct it appropriately on the site. We appreciate your consideration of the complicated challenges which arise through our engagement in the social media terrain.

Loretta Walshe is currently the Communications Manager for Deaf Children Australia.  She has previously worked in communications, marketing and fundraising with other not-for-profit and health sector organisations including Guide Dogs Victoria, CatholicCare, Australian Red Cross, Cancer Council Victoria and Austin Health. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.

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