Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    New language policy set to break down communication barriers

    18/07/2000 9:05 AM

    Anyone who has travelled to a non-English speaking country will know the frustration of trying to communicate.

    That frustration can turn to real concern, however, if important information has to be conveyed to a doctor, police officer or government official.

    For thousands of immigrants to Western Australia, problems understanding and accessing information are a fact of life.

    The State Government has responded to this by developing a Language Services Policy.

    Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson, who launched the policy today, said the State Government was committed to equitable, accessible and culturally appropriate services for everyone in the community.

    “WA’s Language Services Policy is a whole-of-government policy which aims to ensure that language is not a barrier to services for people who require assistance in English - whether they are migrants, members of the Indigenous community or people who are deaf,” Mr Johnson said.

    “This is particularly relevant in WA with almost one third of the State’s population born overseas.”

    Components of the new policy include:
    • a guide to help agency staff obtain and work with an interpreter;
    • continued production of the Western Australian Interpreter Card with information provided in English and 14 other languages; and -
    • the development of an Indigenous Languages Telephone Advisory Line (1300 651 077) through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

    Mr Johnson said many Government agencies were leading the way with excellent strategies to improve service delivery to their diverse clientele.

    Local government and non-government agencies could also benefit by tapping into the policy and helping a wider range of people access their programs and services.

    Mr Johnson said he looked forward to extensive participation by agencies in developing programs and services that recognised and met the varied communication needs of WA’s diverse population.

    Media contact: Fran Hodge on 9215 4800