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Australia Gains New Interpreters Through Red Cross and NAATI Partnership

Since late 2021, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) has delivered a pilot program with Australian Red Cross supporting people who have recently resettled in Australia from Afghanistan and Ukraine to gain a NAATI credential as an interpreter or community language aide. 

This pilot was launched in response to increased demand for interpreters and bilingual workers among newly arrived migrants to Australia. It focuses on recently arrived people from Afghanistan and Ukraine who are receiving support through the Humanitarian Settlement Program delivered by AMES and Australian Red Cross. 

Two intakes have been run in the past 15 months, with the first focused solely on Afghan migrants, and the second including people from both Afghanistan and Ukraine. 

In total, five people from Afghanistan now hold a NAATI Community Language Aide credential which will support them to demonstrate their language skills to new employers. Four people gained interpreter credentials in the first round, and eight more are awaiting results from NAATI screening tests before being offered an interpreter credential. 

Soman, based in Melbourne, is one recipient of support through the program. “It might seem cliché, but…I enjoy [interpreting] the most because I love helping people,” she said. “Back in my home country, it was the same feeling between journalist and interviewee. For translating, for people on different life journeys, I was able to help and make sure their stories were heard, helping people around the world to know how refugees struggle around the world. I am passionate about creating change… That’s why I really like to translate stories, so that they can understand their journeys and then they can help a little bit with their journey.” 

Eligible applicants have access to interpreter training, and discounted or fully sponsored NAATI credentials, to become an interpreter or community language aide. Those supported under the program also benefit from mentoring and connection with employers in the language services sector. 

Mark Painting, NAATI’s CEO, says, “We were pleased to see this pilot program had a positive impact for people coming to Australia in such difficult circumstances. Having access to a quality interpreter can make a huge difference to someone’s life and livelihood. We are now looking for funding partners who can support this program to continue into the future.” 

Soman, who came to Australia as a refugee in September 2021 through the evacuation program from Afghanistan, is excited about the opportunities the pilot brings. “I am now a practising interpreter, and I have three more tests coming up in [early 2023] to become a certified translator. I was planning to work as an interpreter or translator but need the certification.” 

NAATI is the national standards and certifying authority for translators and interpreters in Australia. 

If you would like to become a financial partner to support this program continuing, you can contact NAATI at info@naati.com.au

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