Engaging Interpreters for domestic and family violence civil proceedings in Magistrates Court

People requiring interpreters services for Domestic and Family Violence matters will now be able to access interpreters more quickly at all Magistrates Courts in Queensland. The new process was formally endorsed by the Chief Magistrate and announced on 5 June 2017 by way of a Practice Direction (6/2017) which you can access at the Queensland Courts website.

When receiving applications from people for Domestic Violence Protection Orders, counter staff at the court registries will determine the need for an interpreter, and arrange for an interpreter to be present at the first court appearance for domestic and family violence matters. Importantly the courts will pay for the interpreter services for private applications. Police will continue to arrange and pay for interpreters for the first court appearance for police applications.

Previously, registry staff could generally only engage an interpreter once the presiding Magistrate had made an order that an interpreter be engaged.In some cases this led to difficulty for people to understand the court proceedings in those early stages and delays in domestic and family violence matters being heard by the courts and finalised. The new process builds on a successful trial that was undertaken at the specialist Domestic and Family Violence court at Southport over the previous 18 months. Staff and court users found this to be a much more efficient way of engaging interpreters when parties to DV matters required this additional support.  

Magistrates Court counter staff have been trained and as well as the Practice Direction, can refer to a new written court procedure and other tools to assist them follow the process. 

NAATI anticipates that earlier access to interpreters in the court setting, will improve the experience and outcomes for people involved in family violence situations. Prompt access to a credentialed interpreter, will ensure everyone understands the court processes and what is being said, from the very outset. This is expected to reduce confusion and stress on both parties, with an increased likelihood that respondents follow court orders. It will also ensure that each party has a fair opportunity to be heard, and can be informed about opportunities available in the community for ongoing support.

Published: 27/06/2017