When to use an Aboriginal interpreter

Ask if they want an interpreter

Explain the role of an interpreter and ask your client, using an open question - 'What do you think about asking an interpreter to help us?' or 'What do you want to do?'

It is important to raise the topic of working with an interpreter in a sensitive manner.

There may be a number of reasons the person may not want to work with an interpreter including any of the following:

  • may not know what an interpreter does
  • may have had a negative experience with an interpreter in the past
  • may not want other people knowing about their business
  • may think they have to pay for an interpreter
  • may feel shame or anger because you are indicating their English isn’t ‘good enough’.

Suggested way to ask if they want an interpreter

You could ask the person by using the below script as a guide.

'Before we start talking, I want to ask you about what language we should use today. Maybe we can talk in English, or maybe it’s better if we talk in your language. I don’t speak your language, so if we think it’s better to talk in your language I will ask an interpreter to help me.'

How to explain the role of an interpreter

You could explain it to the person by using the below script as a guide.

'An interpreter is someone who speaks your language and speaks English and has had training to help them understand the medical words that you will hear today. The interpreter will put everything I say into your language, and everything you say into English. The interpreter must follow rules. They can’t take sides. They must keep the message the same - they can’t add anything or leave anything out. The interpreter must keep everything we talk about secret.'

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Last updated: 08 January 2016

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