Funding axed to Aboriginal interpreting service



20 Nov 2014 - The Barnett Government has axed funding for the Aboriginal Interpreting Service, a decision that has been strongly criticised by the WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin..

WA's Chief Justice Wayne Martin said:

"There is a need... in the justice system for an adequately resourced interpreter service and if the decision that's been announced has the effect of not providing that service, then it's a backwards step".

"Anything that prejudices the fairness of the system as far as Aboriginal defendants are concerned has got to be a bad thing." 17 /11/2014 ABC News

Failure to use interpreting services was highlighted in a recent case involving the death of Josh Warneke.  The murder charge was dropped after the Supreme Court ruled that the admission by Gene Gibson was inadmissible in court because Gibson was denied his basic rights including the use of an interpreting service. 

In 2010 the WA Equal Opportunity Commission released a report 'Indigenous interpreting service: is there a need' that examined the ongoing need for the service.  The Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson found that the need for a State wide Indigenous interpreting service remained compelling. 

Extract from the report                                         

The importance of Indigenous interpreting services has been well documented in several national reports including The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Recommendation 100), The Recognition, Rights and Reform Social Justice Report (2000) and the Bringing Them Home Report: National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families 1997.

Priority Areas

From the perspective of an Indigenous person who is not fluent in the language of service delivery, every service area would seem a priority in terms of the need for interpreting. Aboriginal people who fall into this category can be traumatised by a visit to the bank, to shops, to real estate agents, to schools, to hospitals, to the police and most other places of business in terms of everyday living. However, health and justice have been identified as the two areas of highest priority due to their capacity for causing most distress and impacting directly on the lives of individual Aboriginal people. P3