Language and interpreting services are intrinsically linked to basic human rights, social justice and cultural and linguistic equality, an RMIT hosted symposium has heard.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of RMIT’s Translating and Interpreting programs, a symposium featuring speakers from government, academia and industry was hosted at the University’s city campus.
Putting communities in touch: The role of translators and interpreters in social inclusion brought together an interdisciplinary panel, all imparting their personal experience with language services and how the professions might be fostered into the future.
Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, said linguistic diversity in Australia had “extraordinary scope”.
“One in five of us speak a language other than English at home and about 3 per cent of Australians say they cannot speak English well, or at all,” she said.
“Given these figures, it is clear that language and language services play a huge role in the Australian community, both in terms of access and social cohesion.”
She said Australians collectively possess a wealth of language skills and knowledge.
Everyone has a part to play in passing this knowledge onto future generations, as well as valuing and encouraging bilingual or multilingual global citizens, Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.
Emeritus Professor Daniel Gile, Université Paris, renowned for his Effort Model on cognitive processes involved in interpreting, presented the keynote session.
Sedat Mulayim, Program Manager, RMIT’s Translating and Interpreting program, thanked all current and previous staff, students and graduates of the program.
He also recognised their contribution to the program and the industry since the Translating and Interpreting’s 1975 inception.
Mulayim also presented his PhD findings on language barriers and symbolic violence, before a diverse range of guests presented, including:
- George Bisas, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service, made the link between the language services and basic human rights, social justice, and cultural and linguistic disadvantage, largely drawing on his professional background in human rights, equal opportunity, and disability advocacy
- Adolfo Gentile, drawing from his research, spoke of the Translating and Interpreting circumstances in the 1970s and the extraordinary challenges faced by a dedicated group of pioneers and community initiatives in setting up the first training courses
- Miranda Lai, RMIT Interpreting and Language lecturer, presented findings from a study she co-authored with Georgina Heydon and Sedat Mulayim, on vicarious trauma in interpreters and translators
- Brooke Prentis, a descendant of Waka Waka people in Queensland, shared the Aboriginal peoples experience of maintaining their languages and cultures since 1788
- Professor Bruce Wilson, Director of RMIT’s European Union Centre and Australian coordinator for the PASCAL International Observatory, presented an overview of the current situation in the EU and provided insight into achieving policy influence and change that will benefit the Translating and Interpreting industry
- Dr Meredith Bartlett and Tamara Pierce, Auslan interpreter trainers and practitioners, provided insight into the communication needs of deaf and hearing-impaired members of society
- Chris Walton, Chief Executive Officer, Professionals Australia, discussed proper recognition for interpreters and translators and some of the urgent practical action needed to improve the condition of the profession
The event was sponsored by the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service.