Importance of Emergency Interpreting in Australia

The Absolute Importance of Emergency Interpreting in Australia

Australia experiences a wide range of natural disasters that cause great financial hardship for individuals and communities, and can result in loss of life.

When considered from the perspective of deaf and hard of hearing communities it is crucial to have accessible information, updates and alerts – before, during, and after – for all emergencies. This helps build resilience and enables empowered decision making to ensure personal safety.

Our work has brought to light the vital need for interpreters to have specific disaster and emergency training to guarantee the right messages are produced and conveyed with clarity and consistency.

With little to no training or exposure to natural disasters and other emergency scenarios, interpreters run at high risk of unknowingly distorting the intended messages from emergency services teams.  This can severely impact the ability of a deaf or HoH person’s ability to make safe decisions.

State Deaf Societies in Australia (led by VicDeaf) are working together to address the growing importance for emergency interpreting nationwide. Our collaboration resulted in being awarded a grant from the Commonwealth Government through the Attorney General’s Department, which has helped establish the National Emergency Management Project (NEMP).

The NEMP intends to develop national guidelines and strategies to improve services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people who prefer Auslan for the preparatory, response and recovery stages of natural hazard emergencies.

Find out more and register here.

Increasing Awareness & Preparedness:
One of NEMP’s primary goals is to provide both interpreters and the community with best practice guidelines and training support for national rollout by individual state Deaf Societies, television broadcasters and state-level emergency services organisations.

In South Australia, Deaf Can:Do are working closely with our interpreters to provide better access to training, on-the-job experience and access to NEMP’s national training resources to be an effective support for our communities during live emergencies.

Deaf Can:Do maintain strong relations with our state emergency service networks and is registered as a preferred provider with South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM).

Recently, we sponsored three SA Auslan interpreters to attend the Natural Hazards and Emergency Media Interpreting course in Melbourne. The course provided in-depth and comprehensive modules on major emergencies, including fire, flood, weather conditions and public safety.

Our interpreters gained further knowledge and a better understanding of:

  • The science behind each natural disaster, its lifecycle and potential causes.
  • The importance of being media ready and effectively presenting on live camera, how to effectively work with the media, and ‘on location’ training.
  • The opportunity to hear and learn from experienced interpreters – both hearing and deaf – this provided invaluable insight
  • Providing continued support and access for extended networks (interpreters and community) to training, updates and support resources to ensure sustained awareness and preparedness for all potential emergency scenarios.

Deaf Can:Do is committed to providing the support and resources needed to be informed, aware and safe. This will include training events, community updates and professional development opportunities for our SA interpreters to help build a stronger network of emergency service support for South Australia’s deaf and hard of hearing communities.

Find out more and register here.