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From one member to another: Study and our profession

Portrait of Amy McCusker,

By Amy McCusker,
Brisbane

Recently, I have embarked on a personal journey of study. This is something I have wanted to do for a while but had procrastinated about given my lack of academic experience and some self-doubt around my written English abilities. When applying for the course (Post Graduate Diploma of Interpreting) I was nervous about whether I would be accepted into the course given the fact I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree.

While anxiously waiting to hear if I was to get into the course, I received an email informing me that there were more applicants than positions available in the course. I had heard that Certified interpreters (Professional level) were given priority to get into this course but what if there was a lot of applications that were from Certified Interpreters who also had an Undergraduate degree?

This got me thinking about how competitive it will be in the future for others who are seeking to improve their skills, given the focus NAATI is taking with Certification and encouraging study prior to progressing through the different levels of credentials.

The NDIS will result in Deaf people now having unprecedented access to funding for interpreters. The lack of availability or access to training programs for interpreters is becoming even more of an interpreting industry issue.

If we look at the courses specifically available for Auslan Interpreters (which can include Deaf Interpreters) and the current interpreter supply and demand issues, which is only going to become a more widespread problem around the country as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is finalised in all states. The NDIS will result in Deaf people now having unprecedented access to funding for interpreters. The lack of availability or access to training programs for interpreters is becoming even more of an interpreting industry issue. Given Auslan has become more visible through the media, we have seen an increase of people wanting to move into our industry.

The Auslan Interpreter training that has been available to date is the Diploma of Interpreting Auslan-English, the Advanced Diploma of Interpreting Auslan-English, the Post Graduate Diploma of Interpreting Auslan-English and the Masters of Interpreting. Not all of these courses are available in every State, and if they are offered it is only in big cities. Because of the high demand of these courses, people may not get into the course the first time they apply and the next one may not be offered for two years.

I do recognise however that there are non-Auslan specific courses that maybe available more frequently. The people that miss out on enrolling could be valuable to the supply and demand issues within the industry, however it also means that currently accredited interpreters are not having the opportunity to upskill.

As a response to the introduction of the NAATI Certification program, they have worked with two organisations to provide a new online course, which has been set up to prepare candidates for the Certified Provisional Interpreter pathway (previously para-professional). This includes four units from the Diploma of Interpreting. I raise this to spark some conversation about interpreter training and hopefully different organisations are already working towards developing our work force by providing training or other solutions to help overcome the lack of supply issue.

The industry is pushing towards a more professional model by encouraging further study for interpreters. Further study was something I always wanted to strive towards but was apprehensive about, however I am really enjoying this challenge. The support that you get from likeminded colleagues, the robust conversations to unpack what we do and why. It has provided me with a real opportunity to reflect on my practice with a group of people and use a shared language. 

I think one challenge ahead for service providers, like Registered Training Organisations, TAFEs and Universities, will be their ability to cater for the influx of potential interpreting candidates coming their way and also to provide current interpreters with the opportunity to continue to study and upskill as well.

Links and more information

Reproduced with permission: ASLIA May 2018 e-Update


Published: 07/06/2018