A connected community without language barriers

Atsuko Taniguchi

Contributed by Dr Miranda Lai, RMIT University

Atsuko Taniguchi

4 May 2022 is an extremely sad day for RMIT University’s Translating and Interpreting family. We lost a much-loved colleague Atsuko Taniguchi to cancer, which she had fought bravely for four years. It is also an immeasurable loss for the T&I vocational education sector, to which she contributed immensely from 2007 until she became ill in 2018 and went on sick leave.

Atsuko became program Coordinator for the Diploma of Interpreting at RMIT soon after she joined RMIT in 2007. She was responsible for making the program the largest provider of NAATI qualified interpreters at the paraprofessional level (Certified Provisional Interpreter in the current NAATI nomenclature), covering the widest range of low-volume and new-and-emerging languages in the country. She was pivotal in managing the scholarship program funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet of the Victorian government and administered by its Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion Division. The program targets languages within the community needing interpreters to help migrants communicate and participate in their new environments, and it funds tuition fees for those who wish to study at the Diploma level at RMIT to become interpreters.

Her decade-long devotion saw the scholarship program grow from just over 30 students per year when she joined RMIT to over 100 consistently in the past few years, covering new-and-emerging languages such as Assyrian, Burmese, Dari, Haka (Chin), Hazaragi, Karen, Nuer, Oromo, Pashto, Swahili, Tedim (Chin), and Tamil. Many graduates became the only NAATI qualified interpreters in Australia in these languages and went on to have successful interpreting careers. A number of them were also recruited as NAATI examiners on their respective language panels, based on Atsuko’s valuable recommendations and references.

Graduates and teachers fondly remember Atsuko’s warm personality and unfailing attention to their needs. Studying or teaching at a tertiary education institution may be challenging, particularly for those who are new to Australia or from a different or even disrupted education background. Her devotion to the students and teachers alike was the key to their thriving and succeeding in their learning and teaching. RMIT’s T&I team, joined by colleagues from the academic services area, are mourning the loss of such a dedicated and inspirational person.

The T&I industry will be less enriched without you, Atsuko. Rest in peace!
You will forever live in our hearts.

Submitted by Dr Miranda Lai | miranda.lai@rmit.edu.au

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