The WA Language Services Policy 2014 has today been released by Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Mike Nahan, reinforcing the State Government’s commitment to ensuring proficiency in English is not a barrier to accessing government services.
Dr Nahan said the revised policy would assist Western Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal communities which needed assistance with English, people who were deaf or hard of hearing, and those who communicated through Australian Sign Language (Auslan).
“The revised policy will reduce the disadvantages faced by people who have difficulty communicating effectively in English and will help to decrease problems that can arise from miscommunication,” he said.
“We have a linguistically diverse community and, while the majority of people can communicate effectively in English, this policy will help to protect the rights, health and safety of those who do not.
“There are substantial risks associated with not providing language services, particularly in legal, emergency and health settings.”
Similar policies have been in place since the 1990s so that people who need assistance in communicating in English will be able to request interpreters when dealing with WA
The policy also requires public sector agencies to incorporate provision for meeting language services needs in contractual arrangements with funded agencies and highlights the importance of training and credentials for practitioners.
The new, detailed guidelines that support the policy ensure that it is user friendly. The package will be promoted widely to WA public sector agencies, the interpreting and translating sector, and the community.