Stimulus assists Somerville to help people in need

Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) staff have described a sense of pride in being able to assist operators communicate more effectively with Aboriginal people calling 000.

Three people, two men and a woman stand and smile to the camera with white walls, a built-in wardrobe and a doorway in the background.

Somerville General Manager Housing and Homelessness David Ridley, DLGHCD’s Director Planning and Housing Supply Owen Dutton and Somerville General Manager Community Services Deborah Bampton at one of the recently refurbished houses in Palmerston.

The outside of a refurbished house is captured from front on, complete with freshly-painted white walls and a new white-iron roof. Luscious green grass in the house’s front yard and in its backdrop bright blue sky can be seen, as well as the tops of four palm trees poking out from the backyard.

The houses received upgrades including new roofing and fresh coats of paint.

The AIS is providing support to the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice’s Aboriginal Justice Unit and NT Police as part of a project trial, which involves interpreters attending the Joint Emergency Service Communication Centre in Darwin.

Central Australian interpreter Dean said the project was beneficial to both the operators and Aboriginal people calling 000 for various emergencies.

“We feel good about it. After the call is finished, there’s that sense of pride and joy to know that we have helped get that message across from the caller to the operator, and vice versa,” he said.

“Interacting with the operators, they give us good feedback as well and they sometimes say, ‘it’s great that you’re here’.

There’s definitely a need there.”

The project started in December and involves two interpreters attending the call centre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings for a ten week period.

Dean covers Central Australian languages such as Anmatyerr while his colleague Nadyezhda specialises in Top End languages including Djambarrpuyngu.

Nadyezhda has also delivered three ‘Working With Interpreter’ training sessions to around 45 emergency call centre operators. She said the process of interpreting between caller and operator was slightly different to the normal practice.

“We don’t interpret back to the caller, we assist the operator with what the caller is trying say,” she said.

“The operators can see a change in the caller’s responses. They are engaging more because of the feedback from the interpreter.

It was a real eye-opener for them and it changed their view towards the calls.”

Following the end of the trial period, a report will be prepared by the Aboriginal Justice Unit with a view of expanding the project in the long term.

Last updated: 12 February 2020


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