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TIS Capacity Building Program Update

Health interpreting and legal interpreting are the two most frequent areas of work for many spoken language interpreters in Australia. They are both varied and demanding settings that require specialised skills and knowledge across a wide range of areas. 

In 2019, NAATI introduced specialist certification tests in health and legal in recognition of the expertise and accomplishments of these interpreters who are experts in interpreting in their chosen domain. The introduction of the Certified Specialist Health Interpreter and Certified Specialist Legal Interpreter certifications has led to changes across the sector, including the availability of training and support for interpreters wishing to upgrade their credential. 

One such development is a partnership between TIS National, Monash University and NAATI to support interpreters through the Capacity Building Program for Certified Specialist Health and Certified Specialist Legal Interpreter credentials. This builds on previous support for professional development that the Capacity Building Program offered to interpreters across a variety of fields. 

The program offers Certified Interpreters working for TIS National in 5 languages (Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish) financial support to undertake a specialised subject at Monash University and to sit the NAATI Certified Specialist Interpreter test. 

Monash University has established specialist subjects in its Master of Interpreting and Translation Studies (MITS) (APG5605 Specialist Health Interpreting and APG5606 Specialist Legal Interpreting). Completion of either or both subjects within the MITS will enable a graduate to be eligible to sit the relevant NAATI Certified Specialist Interpreter test (health and/or legal). 

Non-Monash students can also complete these as ‘single-subjects’, enabling NAATI Certified Interpreters to complete training in preparation for sitting the NAATI specialist test/s. Both subjects are 6 weeks long (with assessment in week 7), have 4 contact hours per week and require a further 15-20 hours or practice and study per week. They have been designed to align with NAATI’s specialist interpreting tests, and assessment includes a knowledge test followed by consecutive and simultaneous interpreting tests. 

In the 2022/2023 financial year, 15 interpreters were supported through the program, including Jemma Ives who jumped at the chance to receive this support. “I had been thinking about specialising in legal interpreting for a while,” she said. “This 6-week course provided me with the rare opportunity to do deliberate legal interpreting practice and  receive feedback, as well as to practise alongside colleagues with a similar level of experience. It was fantastic to have this dedicated period of time for professional development, to research legislation and terminology in both languages, build my legal glossary in specific areas, and practise all of the skills necessary for the exam.” 

[pictured] Jemma Ives, a participant of the TIS Capacity Building Program

In further recognition of those interpreters who successfully pass the NAATI specialist interpreter test/s, TIS National is introducing a new service offering for clients where they can elect to engage a Certified Specialist Interpreter in the relevant field. This enables TIS National to offer a higher pay rate to these interpreters. Certified Specialist Interpreters are also tiered to the highest level, which means they will be offered the first pick of all general assignments.

Jemma says, “After completing the Monash subject, I prepared for the knowledge and practical exams  by continuing to read and develop my general knowledge of the law, legal processes and the Australian legal system, further developing my glossary and I also did the NAATI CSLI [Certified Specialist Legal Interpreter] sample tests which helped me understand the level required for the exam… Overall, it was a fruitful learning experience and definitely a big challenge, so I was delighted when I received the news that I had passed the CSLI exam. I’d like to give a huge thanks to TIS for offering this PD opportunity program to interpreters.” 

A further 20 interpreters will be offered this opportunity in this financial year under the program. 


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