• The scheme will see more Aboriginal interpreters in WA hospitals. (AAP)Source: AAP
A small regional interpreting scheme has been extended throughout WA's Kimberley region after almost two decades of success.
Rangi Hirini

16 Jul 2018 - 3:07 PM  UPDATED 16 Jul 2018 - 3:31 PM

Last week the West Australian government announced the expansion of a scheme that provides Aboriginal interpreters for patients, their families and the health workers they're talking to.

The six-month trial will see an increase in interpreting services at some Kimberley hospitals. 

Formerly known as the Kimberley Interpreting Service, it has been renamed the Aboriginal Interpreting WA (AIWA) service.

Jo Gray, the regional health consultant for the WA Country Health Services, says the newly extended program is an opportunity for the government to work with local communities.

“Our interpreters are local people who speak the local languages, that live in the area of these hospitals, this is their country,” she told NITV News.

“They’re coming in and speaking language for our community people who live in this area.”

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She says the interpreters will help play a crucial role, for patients and their families - as well as hospital staff.

“They’ll be working with not only clinicians but our community people that walk into hospitals or are staying in the ward that need to speak in their own language in communicating with the doctor.

“But also it’s to help doctors understand what our Aboriginal people are saying.”

Hospitals in Broome, Derby, Fitzroy, Halls Creek and Kununurra have been selected for the trial.

"Western Australia has a diverse range of Aboriginal languages and culture,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement.

“We know that over 70 per cent of patients in Kimberley hospitals is Aboriginal, and this initiative ensures they can speak their first language and feel safe and respected in a healthcare setting.”

Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer MLA was at last week’s launch in Kununurra. She welcomed the news.

“It’s a basic human right for Aboriginal people to understand and to be understood, and it’s critical in areas such as health,” she told NITV News in a statement.

“AIWA’s engagement underpins the obligations under the WA health language service policy… Our people need this service everyday.”

Established in 2000, the newly named AIWA provides interpreters accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) in over 40 WA Aboriginal languages to clients anywhere in Australia.

The service also runs in other parts of WA, with interpreters in the Pilbara, Goldfields, Western Desert and South West.

A 2016 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statics stated one-in-10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak a native language at home.

The WA Government previously committed to $200,000 in funding for the interpreting service to increase its capacity to help Aboriginal people access reliable interpreting services. 

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