Skip to content
Community, Information Technology

Speaking their language: Empowering interpreters and translators in diverse regional communities (images available)

Monash University 3 mins read

In an Australian first, Monash University researchers have worked with non-professional interpreters and translators (NPITs) in regional Victoria to identify current training challenges and co-develop a digital toolkit to better support their communities. 


Launched in Shepparton today, the Interpreting Mentoring and Professional Advancement Regional Opportunities (IMPARO) project report and online toolkit were developed in partnership with Wise Well Women – a community organisation supporting refugee and migrant women’s health in Goulburn Valley – and with support from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).


Newly arrived or linguistically diverse communities often rely heavily on NPITs from within their ranks for daily interactions, assistance with access to services or to gather information through unofficial channels during personal or public emergencies. 


Through collaborative workshops with 31 NPIT participants from refugee backgrounds representing 10 languages including Arabic, Dari, Hazaragi, Farsi/Persian, French, Kibembe, Kirundi, Lingala, Pashto, and Swahili, the IMPARO project identified four major challenges facing NPITs in regional areas and four opportunities to empower them and their communities. 


The project was led by translation technology researcher Dr Margherita Angelucci, a joint appointment between Action Lab at the Faculty of Information Technology and the Monash Intercultural Lab at the Faculty of Arts. 


Dr Angelucci said there was a lack of preparedness and inadequate engagement between emergency services and multicultural communities in regional areas during the recent Victorian floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, further highlighting the crucial role of NPITs during emergencies. 


“We found NPITs in regional areas play an integral role in facilitating intercultural communication within the diverse communities, and are often called upon to act as bicultural mediators,” Dr Angelucci said.


“Through the discussions we also found the NPITs often feel under pressure since they regularly have to deal with highly sensitive interactions involving healthcare or personal emergencies without the benefit of formal training and professional development.”


The consultations helped to identify opportunities to support the professional development of NPITs including spreading greater awareness of their crucial role within communities, and illustrating the potential benefits of a co-designed training program that provides a pathway for bicultural mediators in regional areas to become certified interpreters and translators.  


The proposed training model focuses on capacity building and mentoring to support accessibility and sustainability. To this end, emphasis is placed on fostering local collaboration and mentorship, and creating readily accessible digital resources for NPITs to use.


NAATI Senior Operations Manager Ms Francesca Cimarelli said the IMPARO project provided valuable and actionable insights to help develop language and interpretation skills training programs where they are most urgently needed. 


“We understand the value of professional interpreters and translators around Australia, particularly in regional areas where they are sometimes difficult to access. We believe the IMPARO project will positively contribute to addressing this need,” Ms Cimarelli said. 


As a precursor to tailored training courses that will be developed in the near future for NPITs who wish to meet the eligibility requirements to sit the NAATI Certified Provisional Interpreter or the NAATI Certified Translator test, or apply for NAATI Recognised Practising credentials, the IMPARO online toolkit has been created as a platform to share information about ethical practices in translation and interpreting, and resources for ongoing professional development.


Registered Nurse and NPIT Mrs Bushra Samadi said: “The workshops and the project have helped to give our voices more meaning and we are eager to acquire professional skills that can be utilised in our workplaces, enabling us to build stronger bridges between our communities and the outside world.” 


This project was funded through a Monash University Faculty of Information Technology Industry Partnerships Seed Fund (2022-2023).


One of the Chief Investigators of the IMPARO project Dr Delvin Varghese from the Faculty of Information Technology’s Action Lab and IMPARO project participant RN and NPIT Mrs Bushra Samadi are available for interviews. 


See the full IMPARO report and online toolkit. See the media kit, which includes:

  • Photos from the IMPARO workshops including the NPIT participants
  • Group photos from the IMPARO report and online toolkit launch event  

Teju Hari Krishna, Monash University 
T: +61 450 501 248 E: 

More from this category

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.