The complexities of settlement in a new country are a very real experience for those newly arrived in our Toowoomba community.

23 November 2019

New people, new systems, new environments, and for many people, a new language, are significant adjustments for those establishing their new home.

As we meet families from all different parts of this world we encounter a wide variety of languages now represented in our Toowoomba community including Arabic, French, Swahili, Farsi (Persian), Dinka and also, perhaps less familiar to those of us born and raised in Australia, languages such as Hazaragi, Lingala, Kurdish Kurmanji, Kinyarwanda and so many more.

For those of us who only speak one language and have always lived in a country where that language is spoken, it may be hard to imagine negotiating a community in a language we do not understand. Imagine sending your children to school not knowing how to communicate with the teaching staff or being able to understand the many notes that are sent home. Imagine going to the mailbox to receive a handful of letters that you are overwhelmed to open because the text cannot be understood and you are not sure what is important or required of you. Imagine trying to access healthcare for your family without knowing if you will be able to explain what you feel or understand the instructions or medications you are given.

In recognition of the needs of some of our newest neighbours, CatholicCare Interpreting is an exciting new initiative providing local interpreting support to the culturally and linguistically diverse communities of our Toowoomba Region. Supported by funding provided as part of the MUSTER Initiative (Mutual Understanding, Support, Tolerance, Engagement and Respect), through the Strong and Resilient Communities Program through the Department of Social Services, CatholicCare Interpreting aims to ensure equitable access to services for all Toowoomba residents by ensuring high quality interpreting services are available in our local community. As an organisation committed to social justice, CatholicCare is passionate about ensuring the newest families in our community have access to interpreting services that are professionally delivered, accurate, unbiased, and maintain strict confidentiality. Through a fee for service system, local interpreters will be available to organisations seeking interpreting support for their clients.

Interpreters for CatholicCare Interpreting will be recruited from the Toowoomba community. Initially joining our program as interpreting interns, candidates for the program will be selected based on demand for languages, English proficiency, availability of places and other suitability criteria. An initial cohort of ten highly skilled interpreting interns have recently commenced their training program. Further cohorts will be welcomed in 2020 and 2021. Considering the needs of our local area, priority has been given to the in-demand languages of Kurdish Kurmanji, Arabic, Swahili, Dari and Farsi.

The interpreting interns will be supported through the process of certification through the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. Certification acknowledges their ability to meet the professional standards expected in Australia for translating and interpreting. Training will take them through the role of the interpreter, developing professional interpreting skills, and understanding the responsibilities and ethical obligations of interpreters. Candidates who successfully engage with the program will be considered for casual employment through CatholicCare Interpreting. Although limited intern positions are available, the program will also include initiatives to upskill other members of the community who wish to begin a pathway toward future interpreting work and certification.

In a genuine win-win situation, CatholicCare Interpreting is a great opportunity for supporting Toowoomba locals into employment pathways through developing interpreting skills while also supporting the community by enhancing access to local professional interpreting services in in-demand languages.

For more information about CatholicCare Interpreting, including queries about accessing interpreting services or to find out how you can be involved with or support this program, please contact Rachel Smith at CatholicCare on 1300 477 433.

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