An historic day as interpreters assist in Parliament

Growing up in Galiwin’ku, Nadyezhda Pozzana always wanted to be an interpreter.

Twenty-four hours after being the first Aboriginal interpreter permitted onto the floor of the NT Parliament, to interpret for a member, she says it’s like a dream come true.

Supported by fellow AIS interpreter, Derek Hunt, Nadyezhda allowed the Independent Member for Nhulunbuy, Mr Yingiya Guyula to speak on his motion about community-led schools in Yolngu Matha, which she then interpreted into English.

Nadyezhda and Derek had a briefing with the member earlier in the day, to go over the motion.

“Briefing is the most crucial part of any interpreting job.  The more information we have, the more consistent and more accurate it is.

I am concentrating on the words we thought about in the briefing - words that have no translation like ‘appropriate’ and ‘success’,” Nadyezhda said, prior to interpreting in Parliament.

The Northern Territory Legislative Assembly changed its standing orders in March, to allow for the use of non-English languages on the floor of Parliament, through the use of interpreters, or through self-interpretation.

This was the first time an Aboriginal Member of Parliament was able to engage a professional interpreter to assist, enabling them to engage in parliamentary debate in their own language.

Furthermore, it allows constituents who do not speak English as their first language to be able to listen and understand what is being said in Parliament.

Nadyezhda said she is still on a “natural high” from the events of the past day.

“I’ve only had about five hours sleep. I’ve never ever felt like this ever, in any of my interpreting jobs I’ve done. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my career. I feel proud, I feel honoured, I feel empowered,” she said.

“My mother, 80 years old, and she was literally in tears yesterday – you could just see the pride in her, it was flowing through her tears. She said ‘my nurturing and caring and shaping you to be the woman you are has paid off.’ She was just so happy.

“Uplifting a whole community, a whole region yesterday was one of the most empowering things I have ever done,” Nadyezhda said.

The AIS and the Interpreting and Translating Service NT (ITSNT) provide professional interpreting and translating services across a broad range of Aboriginal and international languages. Over the next 12 months, further work will be undertaken to establish a formal process to allow any Parliamentarians to use interpreters during sittings.

The AIS will again be represented in Parliament during sittings next week.

An historic event as AIS staff members Nadyezhda Pozzana and Derek Hunt interpret Yolngu Matha for the first time in NT Parliament.