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Language With A Local - October

Indigenous people who speak Indigenous-Australian languages may not have strong English skills, and sometimes need interpreters to access a range of important services. These include things like government agencies, health and legal services. These areas usually involve a lot of jargon that can be confusing even to native English speakers. 

By Emily Tyaemaen Ford

The Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) provides much needed services to Aboriginal people of all ages across the Territory. AIS works to ensure Aboriginal people have access to interpreters, and that language barriers are overcome so members of the community who mainly speak Aboriginal languages have access to quality services.

AIS also provides employment opportunities for young Aboriginal people in Darwin and in community, including casual employment opportunities for young people who speak Aboriginal languages. One of their youngest casual interpreters is 17!

Due to the great mental, and sometimes emotional, nature of interpreting, interpreters need to take regular breaks. If they don’t take a break after a certain amount of time they run the risk of interpreter fatigue. In 2009, a UN interpreter collapsed after interpreting for 75 minutes straight – an extreme case of interpreter fatigue!

Interpreting is a pretty skilful job, supporting people who don’t have strong English skills to do things  native English speakers may find easy. They are the unsung heroes of our communities and connect people, share information and bridge gaps between different groups of people everyday.

I take my hat off to all you interpreters out there – keep doing the great work you guys do!

Emily Tyaemaen Ford is a Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu woman from Kurrindju, who speaks two languages - Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu and Rak Marrithiyel. She is on the City of Darwin Youth Advisory Committee and works in Indigenous research at Northern Institue.

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