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Minister's foreword and introduction

Minister's foreword and introduction / Guidelines for using interpreting services

Minister's foreword

Language services play a vital role in our diverse, multicultural society.

As stated in the new multicultural policy - Victorian. And proud of it - the Government wants all Victorians to have access to the services they need. In doing so, we aim to ensure that language is not a barrier to accessing government services.

Without the assistance of interpreters and translators, Victorians who are unable to communicate effectively in English cannot access services properly and could experience poorer outcomes from the services they receive.

With our increasing diversity, interpreters and translators have never been more important. New migrants and refugees face many cultural and linguistic challenges. The assistance of language professionals is critical to help overcome these barriers.

Our established migrant communities also rely on language services especially as they grow older and need access to health and aged care services.

The Government actively supports a professional, high quality language services industry in Victoria. We also encourage government service providers to make effective use of language services whenever they are needed.

These Guidelines will assist government departments, agencies and service providers to use language services effectively.

Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs


Effective communication between service providers and clients is essential to delivering high quality services. The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that all Victorians have equal access to government services, regardless of their English language skills.

The provision of interpreting and translation services (language services) is essential to ensure that all Victorians have proper access to services.

These guidelines outline policy and provide practical advice on using interpreting services effectively. They are highly recommended for all government departments and funded agencies as a guide to communicating through an interpreter.

Government departments and funded agencies need to ensure that, whenever required, interpreting services are provided and used effectively. Cultural competency training should be provided for staff to develop understanding and skills on when and how to use interpreting services.

The guidelines set out the obligations of government departments and funded agencies to provide language services and give advice to assist in planning for and using interpreting services.

These guidelines are relevant for spoken language as well as for Australian Sign Language (Auslan), the language of the Australian Deaf community. Further information on Auslan interpreting is available:

Interpreters can assist in the community with individual clients and groups. While the guidelines have been written from the perspective of working with individual clients, the principles and steps also apply to group situations.

The following companion publications are also available:

  • Using interpreting services
  • Providing multilingual information online