Translating and interpreting services for aged care

This webinar was about the free translating and interpreting services available to the aged care sector to help providers communicate with older people in different languages.

Health sector
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Webinar recording


[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care with crest (logo)’, ‘Translating and interpreting services for aged care’, ‘Presenters. Chair, Isolde Kauffman, Department of Health and Aged Care. Cecilia Chiolero, Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care, The importance of translating and interpreting services in aged care. Jen Cvetkovski, Department of Home Affairs, Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National for aged care. Fiona Nixon, Think HQ, Free aged care translation service’, with Chair connecting via videoconference and visible on the right-hand side of the screen, alongside the Auslan interpreter]

[The visuals during this webinar are of speakers and Auslan interpreter connecting via videoconference and visible onscreen, speaking with reference to the content of PowerPoint presentations being played onscreen]

Isolde Kauffman:

Hello everyone. Welcome. My name’s Isolde Kauffman from the Department of Health and Aged Care. Thank you for taking the time to join us in this webinar today. 

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we’re meeting and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And those Elders are the Ngambri, Ngunnawal people for me in the Canberra area. I’d like to pay respects to Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the call wherever you are.

So to join us today on the webinar will be myself from the Department of Health and Aged Care, Cecilia Chiolero from the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care to talk to us about the importance of translating and interpreting services in aged care, Jen Cvetkovski from the Department of Home Affairs talking about the TIS National Service, the interpreting service for aged care, and Fiona Nixon from Think HQ to talk about the free aged care translation service.

So we’re here to talk to you about the government’s free translating and interpreting services that are available for aged care providers and their care recipients to help providers communicate with older people from culturally and linguistically diverse and other diverse backgrounds. 

The measure received $16.2 million annually from 2020 to 2021 and ongoing to address gaps in translating and interpreting services for diverse groups of older Australians who are receiving or intending to access aged care. The measure also focuses on enhancing the user experience of older Australians from diverse backgrounds when accessing translating and interpreting services in their preferred language. Next slide, thanks.

I wanted to start the talk by mentioning that the government is developing a new rights-based Aged Care Act that will put older people who need aged care at the centre of the system. The new Aged Care Act and strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards strengthen requirements for Commonwealth-funded aged care to meet the needs of older people from diverse backgrounds, including from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The new Act actually provides that an individual has a right to communicate in their preferred language or method of communication, with access to interpreters and communication aids as required. Information in this webinar will help you to provide this.

There’ll be a Q and A session at the end of the webinar. You can lodge questions in the Slido box on the right-hand side of your screen. We’ll attempt to respond to as many questions as possible at the end of the webinar. And questions and answers, including ones that we might not get to, will be available after the webinar and be emailed to you.

We sometimes receive questions that are unclear or not directly relevant to the webinar. If we’re not able to answer a question during the session we’ll try to follow up with the relevant area and respond through the question and answer document.

Questions submitted during the registration process have also been considered for the questions and answers at the end.

Just to let you know there’s no option for attendees to turn on their video or microphone. Webinar slides are now available on our website and this session will be recorded and published on our website soon.

I would now like to welcome Cecilia Chiolero from the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care Alliance. Thanks Cecilia.

Cecilia Chiolero:

Good afternoon everyone. It’s wonderful to see so many interested in improving communication with the older person who doesn’t have English as a first language. Before we analyse the barriers and the advantages of working with translators and interpreters I want to have a chat about who are the voices in aged care communication.

The main voices in aged care communications are aged care service providers and older people. Both the service providers and the older person face barriers but they also benefit from language services. 

Interpreters and translators bridge the gap between them because each group has unique needs and communication goals. The aged care service providers need to understand what the older person needs so that they can provide appropriate services. The older person on the other hand needs to understand what kind of services are available and what will they receive. They need to express their preferences and concern but they also need to provide feedback and to improve the services they receive.

Interpreters and translators facilitate the conversation between the two parties so that all responsibilities and roles are clear. They will ensure a clear, accurate and culturally respectful communication between service providers and older people receiving aged care.

Key challenges for aged care service providers are time, cost and management. 

Time because engaging an interpreter or getting a document translated requires additional planning and also extends the duration of any meeting.

Cost. While there are organisational costs involved in scheduling longer meetings that require interpreters and learning how to use these services, it’s important to note that there are no direct monetary costs to providers for accessing interpreting and translation services. These services are offered free of charge to all approved aged care providers. And this ensures that financial constraints do not limit your ability to provide appropriate and culturally sensitive care.

Finally management. Coordinating interpreter services or document translation is complex. There are many things to take into account and a lot of preparation. Small providers or providers that operate in remote locations may not have the structure or the resources. So it’s even more valuable that there is a dedicated service available free of charge to provide guidance on what is required and assist organisations with document translations, ensuring that all providers navigate these challenges regardless of their size or their location.

Working with professional interpreters improves the communication so it is accurate and unbiased which is crucial in a care or health setting. Relying on non-professional interpreters or family members risks providing inaccurate information. Because these people are not expert in aged care, they might negate the concept or leave out aspects which could generate false expectations and misunderstanding.

Accurate communications lead to improved care quality and better understanding, ensuring that the services can be culturally appropriate and centred around the person. Additionally the involvement of an interpreter reduces miscommunication and minimises conflict and complaints.

When you work with a translator the translated documents allow the messaging to reinforce whatever verbal communication you had during the meeting with older people in aged care and this reduces the risk of misinterpretation. 

While some may believe that providing an interpreter is sufficient, it’s essential to remember that an older person may be unfamiliar with aged care services and require written material to review at their own pace, especially because the services may be different or not exist in their country, and this adds another layer of complexity to any conversation. A translated document enhances the accessibility, enabling older people to make informed choice and again reducing misunderstanding or complaints.

Also providing information in the older person’s language improves the provider’s brand image because it demonstrates a commitment to person-centred and culturally-aware care. Older persons from CALD backgrounds who do not have English as a first language also face barriers when accessing aged care services. 

Firstly language barriers. For some the issue is a basic difficulty in understanding English which significantly limits their ability to learn about or to access services. For others, even those who are proficient in English, the challenge lies in the unfamiliar jargon used within aged care. And this unfamiliarity can affect their ability to fully access the services or to effectively communicate with aged care service providers.

We have cultural barriers. In many cultures discussions about aged care may involve extended family and decisions are often influenced or led by family members.

Additionally some individuals may feel reluctant to admit that they don’t fully understand English or the nuances of services offered. So providing these services in a manner that respects their dignity without forcing them to acknowledge these challenges can facilitate better communication and engagement.

Without the aid of translated documents or interpreters many older people will struggle to understand their rights, the services available to them and what is included. All these barriers will lead to difficulties in communicating need and preferences and a lack of person-centred care that meets the individual needs from CALD backgrounds which often results in care that does not meet their expectation and fully engages them.

This slide shows the benefit of language services in aged care.

When interpreters are present the communication flows more smoothly. Older people understand the conversation better and can express their queries or concerns freely. The risk of misunderstanding is greatly reduced as interpreters ensure accuracy in communication, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation.

Both the care providers and the families or the older people engage actively in discussions. Older people can participate fully, raise concerns, express their preferences because they truly understand what is being discussed. Even when the decisions are made by family collectively the older person feels included and empowered.

Translated documents are useful because while you are expert in aged care, older people usually are not. They might never have encountered such services, especially if they come from a country with a different healthcare system. So anything you explain, even with an interpreter, might be new and difficult to remember. 

Providing translated documents such as flyers, care plan templates or policies will help bridge this gap. When older people take these documents home they can review them at their pace which aids in better understanding and retention of any information discussed.

I see a question here. 

Q:          If a care manager is bilingual and able to communicate with a client independently can that be deemed appropriate?

I don’t think that is appropriate, particularly in a meeting where plans or care is discussed. Because they may help in a day-to-day communication with the client or with the older person but not when official conversations happen. You have to consider that the interpreter is an unbiased professional, while the care manager, even if bilingual, is always someone who is working for an aged care service provider, so might be deemed to interpret the translation instead of just translating. 

Of course if we are talking about a very rare language and no interpreter is available, having someone who can facilitate the conversation is always advisable. But that doesn’t replace an interpreter when one can be available.

Final tips.

Be proactive. It can be challenging to anticipate exactly which language you need for document translation. But by understanding the demographics in your area you can better predict the linguistic needs of the older people in your care. This proactive approach will ensure you are prepared to meet their needs effectively.

Also the Planning for Diversity Budget measure funded by the department and delivered by OPAN provides training and resources that can assist you with this.

Remember that you, the older person, and the language professionals are all part of one team. Treat interpreters and translators as integral members of this team. Provide them with detailed reference material and clear instructions about your objectives and the level of language complexity needed. 

For interpreters it is important that you communicate that what may be straightforward in English can be complex in another language. So always clarify your expectation. Provide as much information as possible about the context of the meetings, the desired outcome and any specific nuances about the client that may affect the interaction. This ensures that everyone is aligned and the services provided are more likely to meet the expectations. 

Language services, whether translation or interpretation, should be a standard offering, not an exception. Simplify the process to access these services to encourage their use. If older people perceive these services as easy to access and not a burden, they are more likely to use them.

Always offer translated handouts in the languages of the older person in your care. Whether these are documents you have translated specifically for a meeting or standard documents available from department sources like the Aged Care Charter of Rights, the Quality Standards, feedback form, My Aged Care, all these documents can help older people reflect on the conversation they had and will aid comprehension, retention to whatever was discussed during the meeting.

If you need assistance accessing language services or if you have any questions about what is available, each state and territory has a Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care program manager. Our role is helping you deliver services that are sensitive to the cultural needs and preferences of individuals. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for support.

Thank you.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you Cecilia. That was very enlightening, useful information to take us through as we reflect on when we’re using translators and interpreters in aged care and some tips to draw on. I’d now like to welcome Jen Cvetkovski from the Department of Home Affairs to talk about TIS National.

Jen Cvetkovski:

Thank you Isolde. Good afternoon everyone. I’m here to talk to you about how aged care providers can use interpreting services in aged care settings free of charge through TIS National.

The Australian Government’s fully-funded TIS National provides immediate telephone interpreting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We provide pre-booked telephone interpreting, onsite interpreting, automated telephone interpreting, video remote interpreting.

Approved providers can use TIS National to support discussions with people who use aged care services or potential users of aged care services about their care or available services. You should use the phone interpreting services unless there is a genuine need for an onsite interpreter. 

Aged care providers and their staff should recognise when an interpreter is needed. This could be when a person they care for requests an interpreter, has a preferred language that is not English. Interpreting services should be used during important discussions relating to decisions about their care options when the older person relies on family or friends to communicate their aged care requirement.

Approved providers of government-subsidised aged care can use TIS National for all discussions with service users and prospective service users, such as to discuss care needs, services, preferences, fees and charges, develop or review care documents such as agreements, care plans and budgets, support consumers to exercise independence in their care and to participate in social and cultural activities such as weddings, funerals, family reunions, seniors activities, clubs or social groups.

You can access TIS National for free if you’re an approved provider of the following funded programs. Residential aged care. Commonwealth Home Support. Home Care Packages. Disability support for older Australians, known as DSOA, formally known as Commonwealth Continuity of Support. Multi-Purposes Programme. Short-term Restorative Care. Transition Care Programme. National Aged Care Advocacy Program. Psychological treatment services for people with a mental illness in residential aged care facilities. Care finders can also access free interpreting services on behalf of older people they are supporting. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible, as long as you’re an approved provider on the My Aged Care website then you would be eligible for that particular program.

To access free interpreting services through TIS National aged care providers must register on the TIS National webpage and receive a client access code. Providers should have one code per funded program for each service. For example if you have CHSP, HCP, residential care, you would have three codes.

Aged care providers should nominate an account manager or business manager to be the administrator of your TIS accounts. They would ensure the program client codes are easily accessible for your staff to make it easy for them to book an interpreter.

The first series of fields identifies that you’ll be accessing an account held by a government agency. So you won’t be billed. The invoice will be sent to the Department of Health and Aged Care. In the dropdown field you would select Commonwealth Government Agency, then Other Commonwealth Government Agency. The third field is for the name of your organisation. The fourth field, state section, is the name of your funded program.

This is a generic form for organisations that pay for interpreting services. So this statement does not apply for aged care providers that are eligible for the fully-funded services.

The next field prompts you to add your organisation address. And then the next section will ask you for your contact details, a phone number, your group email address, which is preferred over a personal email address because if the booking agent is away on leave then there’s no way of cancelling or amending the booking.

You would also include your organisation’s website so that if we need further information that is useful for us as well. The administrator’s name and email address should be entered into the system. The contact details of the administrator are added next. And then at the bottom of the section it will ask you about accepting calls initiated by the non-English speaker and whether you accept onsite jobs. These situations are covered by the department’s TIS contract so you can select ‘yes’ for both.

It is important to be accessible for the non-English speaker to access your service. So also please bear in mind the phone number that you put down on the account should be the one where you’re prepared to accept the incoming call from the non-English speaker.

For the question relating to additional information that the TIS National operators need to collect you can select ‘no’. We also have ATIS which is the voice prompted service. So this is an automated telephone service. This supports access to interpreters of the most frequently-used languages. It is useful during periods of high demand.

The department recommends that all providers select ‘yes’ to allowing your client code to use ATIS. Complete the final two fields by naming your account, usually your organisation and your suburb, and then you would nominate a four-digit pin.

Finally you would select ‘yes’ to receiving updates from TIS National, whichever format you prefer. There is a dropdown box for identifying how you heard about TIS National. And then you can – importantly the acknowledgement of terms requires the applicant to tick the green boxes and then click ‘submit’.

For assistance to register general enquiries we have a client engagement team that is available 9:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday on 1300 655 820. So any urgent enquiries can come through on that line. Alternatively we also have an email address which is Which you can also send through any enquiries through there and we will respond to you. If you request a callback, we can also call you back as well.

TIS National will respond by email to the applicant’s nominated administrator. We will then give you a client ID and a link to set up a password. So you will need to set up the password before you have access to TIS online. So then you would share these details with your employees to enable them to access TIS online and to make their booking. So it’s very easy to book an interpreter. Simply go to our homepage and click ‘book an interpreter’. That will take you to the TIS online booking system. 

In summary TIS National are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be accessed by aged care providers at no cost via telephone, face-to-face or video remote interpreting. For more information and to register visit or visit our website

And what I also wanted to mention was I can see there’s a question in there about onsite interpreting. If you are struggling to get an onsite interpreter, we do have a very good service which is video remote interpreting. This is the next best option as opposed to onsite interpreting which is also booked through TIS online. So I highly suggest that you utilise those services if you need onsite but aren’t available to obtain an onsite interpreter. 

We do suggest that you make your booking as far in advance as possible. While this is not always possible, then the next best option is the video remote interpreting which actually taps into the entire pool of interpreters, whereas onsite is limited to whether there is an interpreter living in that particular locality. If you have a question about a specific language being available then you can always call our contact centre team. Or even an account manager can have a look for you in our systems.

Alternatively you can just put your booking into our systems and then we will let you know if an interpreter’s available. 

Bear in mind we do have a cancellation policy. So if you cancel under 24 hours then you would be – the invoice would go to Department of Health and Aged Care if you’re using a funded account. So we would still need to know if you need to cancel your booking so that the interpreter can be freed up to attend another appointment.

So that’s the end of my scripts today. So thank you very much for having me and yeah ...

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you Jen. We might have some questions at the end for you. But thank you for covering the topic so thoroughly in relation to using the free interpreting service, TIS National. 

So we’ve heard from Cecilia about why translating and interpreting is important and some things to think about in that regard. And we’ve heard from Jen about the free interpreting service, TIS National. Now I’d like to invite Fiona Nixon from Think HQ to talk about the free translating service that the department funds. Thanks Fiona.

Fiona Nixon:

Yeah. Thanks so much Isolde. And good afternoon. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you today to talk about just how best to access and use the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care’s free translation service.

So in March this year Think HQ was contracted to provide the free translation service for government-subsidised aged care providers, for peak bodies and Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care across Australia. Think HQ is a communications agency with a specialisation in multicultural communications and we have a dedicated language services team who bring expertise in complex, multilingual campaigns.

So look the aim of the service is to support the aged care sector to ensure that older people from multicultural communities can access aged care services in a safe, inclusive and culturally appropriate manner.

As Cecilia so well described, providing in-language material is vitally important. The 2021 census data shows us that the Australian community includes a large number of older people from multicultural backgrounds, more than 700,000 in fact. It also shows us that the levels of English proficiency are lower amongst older people and this drops as people’s age increases. In addition the level of English proficiency is not uniform across communities, as you can see from this table that illustrates just 20 languages.

So as aged care providers, it’s therefore important that people in your care can access information about the services they need and that they’re accessing it in a way that they can best understand.

And not only do in-language materials assist older people themselves to make informed choices, but they also support family members to communicate with them and support them to access the care.

Okay. So the free aged care translation service is designed essentially to take your existing information or documents and translate them into languages that the people in your care speak. So I’m going to spend a bit of time talking a little bit more about the eligibility requirements for the service and also how best to use it.

So as I mentioned earlier the service is open to all Australian Government subsidised aged care providers who are delivering care under one or more of the programs that you can see in the list on the screen.

It’s also available for aged care peak bodies, for members of the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care Program, as well as participants in the Care Finders program.

The second eligibility requirement is that you own the copyright to the material that you would like translated. So in other words this is material that you’ve developed yourself and it already exists in English. We can’t translate material from other organisations without a direct request or permission from them. So if you have a need for a translation of something produced by the Department of Health and Aged Care please let us know because we can get in touch with the department to see if this is possible to do that.

Also the materials can be in written, printed, audio or video format.

In line with the purpose and intent of the program there are also certain requirements regarding the content of the materials that are eligible. The service is available to translate material that provides factual information about the services you provide and it supports individuals to access those services. So some examples include handbooks, fact sheets, forms, even wayfinding signage and instruction, posters and guides.

On the other hand the free service is not available for other materials that include things like personalised or individual documents such as letters or completed care plans or materials that change frequently like menus and newsletters. It’s important to remember it’s also not available for marketing materials prepared for the primary purpose of attracting new people to the provider or offering special bundles of services and the like.

So let’s talk now about how best to use the service and what to expect. So the first step is to get in touch with us via the form on the website or you can give us a call. The form is best if you already know what you want and you have documents all ready to go. The phone is best if you’re still planning and would like some advice or guidance about the process. 

So for it to run smoothly, both in terms of our eligibility assessment and also the translation process, we will need to ask you for some information and also for the documents that you’re wanting to translate. So it is best to think about these things ahead of time. Getting a clear brief early reduces the timelines but it also makes sure that the material delivered meets your needs.

So once we have a clear brief, we can then brief our translators and provide you an estimate of when to expect the materials. We have a network of more than 200 NAATI-accredited translators who we work with to translate and to double-check the translations. 

The time depends on both the length and complexity of the material and also how common or rare the languages being requested are. So for some languages spoken in smaller or emerging communities there are only a very small number of translators in Australia.

So following a quality control process for the translation, we will then format the material into the design or format that you’ve confirmed in the brief and our inhouse design and production studio look after this. Once that’s done and to dispatch the material, we will send you a link to our platform and instructions on how to access and download the final materials. We will also send you a very short survey to provide feedback so that we can continue to enhance and improve the service.

So look finally I just wanted to provide a couple of tips for using the service. We recognise that commissioning translated materials is one of many priorities and if you haven’t done it before it can seem a little bit daunting and a lot of effort. So a couple of things to think about. 

If possible take time to think about your translation needs for the coming period. It can be much more efficient and a better use of your time to request a batch of documents rather than just one. We will ask you about who will benefit from the translations and we will need to know how many people and what the rationale is, so please have a think about this.

Please also gather the original English materials at the outset. If you can provide us with editable files that’s ideal, so things like Word or unflattened pdf or even design software files. This makes it easier but we certainly can provide advice about this. 

And lastly we are here to help. So we’re experts in developing multilingual materials and assessing communications needs. So please give us a call and we can work with you to find solutions and to help you access this highly valuable service.

Thank you for listening today. Here are the contact details for the free translation service. And the presentation will also be available online. So we look forward to speaking with you soon. Thank you Isolde.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thanks very much Fiona. And thank you to all of our speakers. I hope that’s been useful to people listening. 

I would now like to start the question and answer part of today’s webinar. So I’ll take some of the questions that we’ve got through here. We’ll see how many we can get through. 

So I’ll just start with this one. 

Q:          What translating services are available for regional and remote areas?

So if that is a question about translating services I hope that we’ve explained that the free translation service is national, it doesn’t matter where you are. So that’s the answer to that one.

Next one.

Q:          Should aged care workers frontline go back to wearing masks and/or have teams in aged care?

So it would be best to look at the information on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website to get up-to-date information about that, which is tailored by state and territory I understand. 

The next question is:

Q:          My understanding of current translation services available for free is a one-off service, that any individual can only use translation services once. Will this continue or will there be opportunity for multiple sessions, say three, for clarification or points of follow-up? 

Fiona did you want to recap on that one?

Fiona Nixon:

Thanks Isolde. I guess we would encourage people to think about the translations that they need for a period of time. We certainly can do one-off translations. But we would like to – I mean people can come back if that really doesn’t work for them but we would encourage people to plan ahead and make the requests that they need at one time.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thanks Fiona. And the department also supports a flexible approach to that. It’s more efficient to try and organise to do it in one time once a year. But if that doesn’t work for you then that’s okay to go back more than one time a year.

The next question.

Q:          Can a TIS interpreter be organised when a consumer goes and sees the GP? 

So that’s basically asking about the broader use of TIS National. Jen would you like to take that one?

Jen Cvetkovski:

Sure. So yes definitely, another part of TIS National is our free interpreting services. So if you are a GP in a private medical practice offering Medicare-rebatable services then you would be eligible to apply for the free interpreting account. So each GP would have their own client code. It wouldn’t apply to the whole medical centre. And we also have a lot of allied health professionals which are also eligible for free interpreting. 

There’s also a lot of information on our website of other organisations that are eligible for free interpreting such as pharmacies, various non-government organisations, local government, real estate, trade unions. But there’s various eligibilities depending on which one of those organisations that you are. If you have any more detailed questions in relation to that, happy for you to send them through via email as well.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thanks Jen. That is a complementary aspect of TIS National. So today we’re talking about TIS National for aged care. But it is good to know that there’s complementary access to TIS National for other settings, not just aged care. 

Next question.

Q:          Is it still possible to book face-to-face interpreters? If so, how far in advance are bookings required? 

I think you touched on this in your talk Jen but would you like to take this one as well?

Jen Cvetkovski:

I can take it, yeah. So yes definitely, face-to-face interpreting is a very valuable, useful service. We do suggest that you only use these ones if you have a longer appointment that may be more complex or sensitive and where you think it would be very useful to have the interpreter onsite. This one is also booked in TIS online. 

So there’s no minimum timeframe to make a booking. We just suggest that you book as far in advance as you can through TIS online. And if you do need to cancel, if you can provide at least 24 hours’ notice as well then that’s great.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you Jen. The next one.

Q:          The provider (TIS) do not have a clear understanding of the service sector. We were told they were only funded for home care packages, not CHSP. 

So I hope this webinar has clarified that TIS National, the interpreting service in aged care, is available for home care packages and CHSP. And that information is on our website. And help spread the word if you’re talking to people.

So the next one.

Q:          How can a client access TIS – and I take that to mean TIS National – for allied health appointments, i.e. speech pathology that are paid for from their healthcare package? 

We might need to take that one on notice unless you want to say something on that one Jen.

Jen Cvetkovski:

So in terms of if the client has a home care package provider, then that home care package provider would make the booking. And if you’re not sure if they’re eligible for the funded account, then you can look up your organisation on the My Aged Care website or you could just give us a call or email us at And we can take that one offline if need be as well. 

Isolde Kauffman:

Great. Thanks Jen. Another one that might have preceded the webinar.

Q:          How to book an interpreter? 

Would you like to summarise that Jen. And I’ll share the questions around a bit more after this.

Jen Cvetkovski:

Yeah. Sure. So it’s very simple. So I guess to put it in basic terms, first of all you need to have an account. So you need to have a client code and then you need to have access to TIS online. If you’re not sure if you have an account you could always call or email us. And once you have your client code then you can log into TIS online to make your booking. But in terms of just simply registering, when you go to our homepage of TIS National it’s on the homepage ‘register as a client’ and so you just click that button to register.

And then you would follow the prompts and just fill out all the form. And then once you’ve finished the form and you click ‘submit’ the system will generate a client code. 

One thing which is very important. If you’re applying for a funded program account, if you could just hold off to use the service until you receive the welcome email, because we just have to do some adjustments from our end to make sure you don’t get an invoice, then that would be very useful.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you Jen. I’ve got a few translating questions now. 

Q:          One of the challenges with translating documents is knowing whether the information is correct. We recently had a document translated but when we gave it to the client we were advised that some of the information didn’t make sense. Are there supports to ensure the translation is correct? 

I might ask both Fiona and Cecilia to take this one. Fiona would you like to start?

Fiona Nixon:

Yeah. Sure. So in the translation process there are a couple of steps that we take. And the first one is to review the information to make sure that it’s ready for translation. And that includes the clarity of the English being used, as well as doing what we call a cultural review to make sure that there are no phrases that can’t be translated correctly. 

The second part of the process is that the documents are translated by one NAATI-certified translator and then that translation is reviewed by a second person so that there is a double-check. Once it comes back and it gets laid out, our team then makes sure that what gets put into the design document is exactly what came back from the second check from a quality control point of view.

Cecilia would you like to add anything to that?

Cecilia Chiolero:

Yeah. I think that any feedback that anyone receives about any translation should be reported back to the translator provider. Because the translation might be correct but it might not be the level of translation required for aged care people. 

It happened to me. I had a document translated and then when I gave it to the community contacts I had they told ‘This is very high-level English. It’s too complicated. It should be better to use different wording.’ 

So this goes back to providing also instructions to the translators about what is the level of translation that you need. But also remember that whatever feedback you give back will be implemented in the translated documents you have and also be recorded for future reference. So whoever picks up that document afterward will have a finalised version. 

So I think it’s always better to feed back, to give back the feedback. And if you have negative feedback even more, because the translation providers will always go back to the translator and check with them what happened or you know anything is possible. So whatever the feedback, always go back to the translator and report it and that will improve also the services for future requests.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you both. Next question.

Q:          Can the service be used also for volunteers who work in aged care?

So the translation service can be used for the aged care provider, including for their volunteers.

Next one.

Q:          Are we able to send through CHSP client survey documents for translation into the languages our clients speak? 

So yes, as long as they meet eligibility criteria.

Fiona did you want to elaborate on that? 

Fiona Nixon:

Perhaps just to say Isolde that the eligibility around those would be that they are still general and informational in nature and they haven’t been personalised with information from an individual, would be the eligibility that we would apply to that.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you. Another one. And I’ll have to just probably fit in one or two more.

Q:          Can this service be used in an urgent situation or do providers need to book in? 

I’m not sure if this is referring to translating or interpreting. Jen would you like to take the interpreting and Fiona the translating?

Jen Cvetkovski:

So for any emergencies our immediate telephone service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week just by calling 131 450. So you would quote your client code, what language you require and then the TIS operator will connect the interpreter to the call. Or if you need to call your client you would provide their phone number to the TIS operator. So yeah definitely for the immediate service, if you just have a quick conversation then that’s what it’s there for as well.

Isolde Kauffman:

And Fiona. Thank you Jen.

Fiona Nixon:

Look I would say to please just give us a call and discuss your needs and your turnaround times. We certainly have arrangements in place to do faster, more urgent turnarounds but it will depend I guess on the nature of the document and the languages that you are seeking in terms of accessing translators. But give us a call and we’ll be able to give you a sense of how quickly we can do that and respond to that request.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you. And there’s one that’s asking:

Q:          I tried to get an Auslan interpreter for assessment and was told that this was only available for home care package recipients, it wouldn’t be provided for CHSP via a RAS assessment. We had to pay another agency to provide this service. 

This is disappointing to hear. But both the CHSP assessment manual and the RAS assessment manual states that interpreters can be arranged through the National Sign Language Program so that deaf people can participate fully in their interactions with aged care services. That’s a brief answer on that one.

I will have to maybe just take a couple more up here. 

Q:          How can I ensure my content is translated with the right level of cultural suitability, to Fiona?

Fiona Nixon:

Thanks Isolde. And that was really to the point I was making before. That we do, once we get the English documents, do that review and make notes as part of our briefing translators to make sure that the document is ready for translation and we don’t – we assess that it is culturally appropriate as well. We also, if we’re not sure, ask the translators to take a look at that and have an additional conversation with them as they’re doing the translation work.

Isolde Kauffman:

Thank you. And just while we’re taking the last question that we can squeeze in, if we can have the last slide of the presentation with contact details for feedback because we’re all very keen and happy to hear feedback.

And the last question.

Q:          Do you have any resources/training for case managers on how to work with an interpreter in conjunction with the client? 

Cecilia would you like to take that one?

Cecilia Chiolero:

Yes. Thank you Isolde. Yes working with interpreters and translators is part of the models that every PICAC in every state and territory can provide to any aged care service providers. And we all have resources or handouts that can help you and your case manager work with interpreters and translators and have a quick reference guide on what to do and what not to do. So I suggest that you contact the PICAC are in your state and territory and organise for them to come and deliver a session in person or online about working with interpreters or translators.

Isolde Kauffman:

Great. Thank you. Well I think that’s probably all we have time for. We’ll try and address the other questions separately outside of the webinar. But thank you so much everyone for your interest and engagement. And a special thanks to the presenters as well. 

Jen Cvetkovski:

Thank you very much.

Fiona Nixon:

Thank you.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘Feedback on aged care translating and interpreting services’, ‘We invite your feedback on the current aged care translating and interpreting services to help us make improvements’, ‘You can send us feedback by email. For overall feedback, For interpreting, For translating,’ ]

[End of Transcript]

Webinar slides


  • Chair, Isolde Kauffman, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Fiona Nixon, ThinkHQ: free aged care translation service
  • Jen Cvetkovski, Department of Home Affairs: Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National for aged care
  • Cecilia Chiolero, Partners In Culturally Appropriate Care: the importance of translating and interpreting services in aged care.

About the webinar

This webinar gave information about the free translating and interpreting services available to the aged care sector:

  • Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National
  • the free aged care translation service

The webinar provided an overview of these services and explained how providers can use them to communicate with older people from diverse backgrounds in different languages.

Presenters included representatives from the Department of Health and Aged Care, translation service provider Think HQ and Partners In Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC).

AUSLAN interpretation was provided for this webinar.


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