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Interpreters deliver COVID-19 language support

District's interpreters key players in vaccine program.

SydneyConnect Image: Thank you to all of our Interpreters

Sydney Local Health District's professional health care interpreters have stepped up to provide extra language support for our culturally and linguistically diverse community – and the Deaf – during the District's response to COVID-19.

The District runs the Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service (SHCIS) and has access to more than 315 interpreters who speak 84 different languages. The Service offers face-to-face, telephone or virtual interpreting sessions.

Today is International Translation Day which recognises the crucial work of translators and interpreters in connecting people through communication. This year's theme is United in Translation.

SHCIS has been a key player in the District's evolving COVID-19 response, particularly during the rollout of the District's vaccination program.

"Our dedicated interpreters and translators ensure that language isn't a barrier to getting a COVID-19 vaccine," Vesna Dragoje, the Director of the Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service, said.

"They facilitate communication between patients, nurses and clinicians at our vaccination centres and mobile clinics and our translators help inform and educate through the written material they translate.

"They help patients to understand legal consent and medical terminology which allows patients to have input into their own health care.

"Interpreters also help to build rapport which makes the experience a positive one for all parties," she said.

Interpreters are on-site at the NSW Health Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park daily for anyone requiring language assistance and telephone and video interpreting is provided as an additional support.

On average, SHCIS provides services in 25 different languages at Sydney Olympic Park daily. Onsite interpreters speak languages which may include Arabic, Bangla, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Nepali, Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese, Hazaragi, Pashto and AUSLAN.

Interpreters are also onsite at the District's mobile vaccination clinics. Telephone interpreting is available at the District's vaccination centres and clinics at Bicentennial Park, Canterbury Hospital, RPA and Sydney Airport.

Interpreters are also working with teams from rpavirtual, Special Health Accommodation, COVID-19 wards and ICU's to provide an invaluable clinical support service at facilities and for staff and the community.

Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service is available to patients and staff across Sydney and South Eastern Sydney local health districts, St Vincent's Hospital, The Children's Hospital at Randwick, Justice Health, Lifehouse, and some NGOs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.