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NLAF interpreter services working group resource list

The following resource list has been compiled to assist organisations in NSW needing to use interpreters to provide legal assistance to their clients.

Policies and Guidelines


Courses for legal agencies in using interpreters

  • NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) offers a Working with Interpreters course on a fee for service basis. They can tailor to the particular organisation’s needs and can provide a 2, 3 or 6 hour session. Contact the Education Officer on 02 9267 1357.
  • Professor Sandra Hale offers seminars and workshops on working with interpreters for the legal sector for a fee. Sandra is a Professor in the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of NSW Email:
  • Attorney General’s Department of NSW offers a Working Effectively With Interpreters course which is open to other agencies for a fee. The course is periodically run at Parramatta and the Sydney CBD. Contact People Development on 02 8688 7777 for dates and cost.

Courses for interpreters in working in the legal system

Training resources

  • Training Resources for Working Effectively with Interpreters, Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit
    – Quick guide to working with interpreters in mental health settings (Poster)
    – Working effectively with interpreters in a mental health setting (DVD)
    – Guidelines for working effectively with interpreters in a mental health setting
  • Working with interpreters video, Centrelink
    $97.50 ($65.00 for community organisations).
    The video covers common problems people have when working with interpreters, and steps to run effective three way interviews. It includes 9 scenarios in a variety of settings including Centrelink, banks, councils and doctor's surgeries. You can use the self-study guide to work through the video independently, or run group presentations using the trainers' guide.
  • Requesting and Working With Interpreters - Fact Sheets, NSW Community Relations Commission
    These fact sheets cover how to book an interpreter with the CRC, when to use an interpreter, why you should use a professional interpreter and how to work effectively with an interpreter on-site.


  • Access to interpreters in the Australian legal system, Attorney-General's Department, AGPS, Canberra, 1991.
    The report discusses the availability of competent interpreters in the legal system, the adequacy of existing and proposed arrangements for the provision of interpreters, the level of awareness by the public, service providers and the legal profession of the role and use of interpreters, the means by which the professional standards of interpreters can be maintained or improved, how interpreter services can be provided in the most cost effective manner, and who should be responsible for the costs of interpreters.
  • Interpreters and the legal system, K Laster, Federation Press, Sydney, 1994
    This book contains law, critique and a case study of the way in which legal culture is grappling with multiculturalism in Australia and New Zealand. It contains detailed discussion of crucial topics such as: the legal 'right' to an interpreter, interpreters in criminal investigations, courts and tribunals, the role of interpreters and their strategic importance, interpreter accountability and ethics.
  • The discourse of court interpreting, S.Hale, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 2004
    This book explores the intricacies of court interpreting through a thorough analysis of the authentic discourse of the English-speaking participants, the Spanish-speaking witnesses and the interpreters. Written by a practitioner, educator and researcher, the book presents the reader with real issues that most court interpreters face during their work and shows through the results of careful research studies that interpreter’s choices can have varying degrees of influence on the triadic exchange. It aims to raise the practitioners’ awareness of the significance of their choices and attempts to provide a theoretical basis for interpreters to make informed decisions rather than intuitive ones. It also suggests solutions for common problems.
  • The complexities of the bilingual courtroom, S. Hale, Law Society Journal (July 2001). Pp 68–72.

Interpreter services

  • Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National), Department of Immigration and Citizenship
    The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) provides the TIS National interpreting service for people who do not speak English and for the English speakers who need to communicate with them. TIS National has more than 35 years of experience in the interpreting industry, and has access to over 1400 contracted interpreters across Australia, speaking more than 160 languages and dialects. TIS National is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any person or organisation in Australia requiring interpreting services.
  • NSW Community Relations Commission (CRC)
    The Community Relations Commission, Language Services provides interpreting and translation services in over 85 languages and dialects including Auslan. Services are available to government departments and agencies, private and commercial organisations, community groups and individuals in NSW. Face to face interpreting services are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact 1300 651 500.
  • Deaf Society Auslan Interpreting Service
  • A directory of accredited interpreters and translators is available from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).
  • Private providers of interpreting serivces can be found under ‘Interpreters' in the yellow pages.

Last updated January 2009

Sue Scott, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, 02 8227 3208
Caroline Seagrove, New South Wales Legal Assistance Forum, 02 8227 3218