Unique initiatives in Translating and Interpreting have extended the RMIT program's reach to online communities regionally and globally.
RMIT University is one of the largest training providers in Australia and, since 1975, has been training interpreters and translators in many community languages.
These range from established community languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese and Turkish, to more recent languages in our community such as Burmese, Dari, Dinka and Tamil.
Since 2002, RMIT has been working in partnership with the Victorian Government Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship as part of a scholarship scheme to train much needed interpreters in rare and emerging languages.
After studying for the Diploma of Interpreting, graduates go on to provide desperately needed language services within a range of government, non-government and not-for-profit organisations, assisting communication between agencies and migrants and refugees, and bridging gaps in communication.
Until recently, the program was only available at the City campus but now research undertaken by RMIT's Translating and Interpreting staff has enabled Vocational Education to develop an online study option.
With seed funding from the Victorian Government, an online stream of the Diploma of Interpreting now helps to address critical training needs in regional Victoria.
Groups of Dari and Karen students in Shepparton and Bendigo studied for the diploma online in 2013 and 2014, with plans to offer training in other regional centres including Mildura in 2015.
The online course also provides the capacity to address training shortages in other states in languages where there is high demand and shortages of training courses, such as Tamil.
Sedat Mulayim, program manager and convenor for Translating and Interpreting programs, in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, said there was a strong collaboration and synergy between Higher Education and Vocational Education in the discipline.
"The program actively shares resources and experiences between the sectors, which I think is quite unique to us and proves that Vocational Education can contribute significantly to much needed practical research in this industry," Mr Mulayim said.
The practical experience in creation and delivery of the program was translated into a research chapter on pedagogic frameworks for online learning in interpreter training by the program team, which will be published in an edited volume titled Interpreter Education in the Digital Age: Innovation, Access, and Change in March 2015.
"The program has expertise in training interpreters in the largest range of languages in Australia, and the potential to deliver the training for students overseas - in online, off-shore delivery and workshop modes - is immense," Mr Mulayim said.
"In 2012, RMIT delivered a short course to a group of interpreters working with social workers on the Thai-Myanmar border and earlier this year Miranda Lai, program manager in Vocational Education programs, delivered the first professional training workshop in Myanmar."
RMIT's Translating and Interpreting program celebrates its 40th anniversary next year and will be marking the occasion with a series of events.