New Govt reforms for Victorian interpreters - increases to pay rates & conditions

Interpreters in Victoria will receive improved pay and working conditions as a result of a $21.8 million finding boost to sector, from 1 July 2018. 

Two people; Voula Messimeri AM, Chair, NAATI Board of Directors and Chris Walton, CEO, Professionals Australia at the Victorian Government announcement for increases to interpreter pay rates.

The move was made to strengthen the language services industry in Victoria. 

Broad reforms to language services procurement were revealed by the Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott, at a special event in Melbourne on Monday 25 June 2018. 

Measures outlined in the announcement include;

  • Guaranteed minimum rates for remuneration for contracted and casually employed interpreters providing services to the Victorian Government. 
  • Average increases of 30% 
  • Improved travel allowances.

In the 2017/18 state budget, the Victorian Government committed $21.8 million over four years to improve the capacity of the state’s interpreting services. This is the largest single funding increase for interpreting services in Victoria’s history. 

The Minister also announced a new Language Services Quality Committee to advise the Government on industry sustainability and quality issues into the future.

All Victorians have a right to access government services, regardless of their English language skills. Interpreters are vital to enabling this access,”  Minister Scott said. 

Interpreter remuneration has been static for over 15 years. This has resulted in a decline in real pay rates over this period. Low pay rates and casual employment have created an environment of employment instability.  

The reforms are the result of comprehensive consultation and evidence based reviews. The industry review identified that low barriers to entry have disincentivised employers from investing in skill development for interpreters. Unstable or unsuitable remuneration discourages practitioners from entering into the profession or remaining in the sector.  

Quality and continuity of the professional workforce has been compromised by downward pressure on pay rates and procurement based on cost cutting tendering.

Experienced interpreters, confronted by the reality of working conditions that don't provide a viable income, leave the profession. The community is then not able to access suitable people when needed. 

As professionals, it's critical to put the community first, but we can't put the community first if we don't have appropriate conditions and standards.
Chris Walton, CEO Professionals Australia.

The news has delighted industry groups. Representatives and members of Professionals Australia (Translators and Interpreters), the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and Australian Sign Language Interpreter’s Association (ASLIA) attended the event, and their work in highlighting the deficit in the industry was acknowledged.

"Interpreters in Victoria need to be treated as the professionals that they are, and this is a great start today." said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia. 

Contributors to the initiative were credited for their work, with Chris Walton acknowledging support from ASLIA,  AUSIT, Professionals Australia, and the Professionals Australia (Translators & Interpreters) committee.  

"Today members can celebrate and feel proud on the leadership you've shown not only on behalf of interpreters, but you've done it for your passion for the communities you serve," Chris Walton said. 

Increasing remuneration and improving conditions for interpreters and translators means that money will be going into the pockets of Victoria’s interpreters and helping to ensure that the supply of quality interpreters is able to meet the demand.  

  • The new rates represent an increase for all levels of NAATI certification.
  • The procurement process reform will support a high quality professional workforce in Victoria. 
  • The new Language Services Quality Committee will support better outcomes for communities that rely on language services.
  • The reforms will improve the provision of quality language services and maximise service quality and and the long-term sustainability of the sector. 

Interpreters provide a critical service in the community, improving access to health, education, training and employment services as well as the justice system and ensuring better outcomes for communities that rely on language services.

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Published: 26/06/2018