Symposium on Humanitarian Interpreting

The Translation and Interpreting Studies program organised a symposium on humanitarian interpreting on April 1&2, 2016.

The work of interpreters in the 21st century is characterised by a need to adapt to many different contexts and modalities of work. One of these is the humanitarian context: in conflict zones, in disaster zones, in refugee camps or in terrorism trials for example, interpreters have to cope with specific demands and realities. How do interpreters respond to them? How are they prepared to face them? What policies are put in place to help and protect them?
As Dr Marc Orlando, the symposium organiser and T&I program director, said in his opening remarks: “Delivering military assistance or emergency and humanitarian aid across language and cultural barriers and through interpreters and language mediators can be a major challenge. Working in high-risk settings and stressful environments can pose numerous challenges to the interpreters involved in the field. Unfortunately training for professional interpreters and interpreter users in this area is very limited.”

In an attempt to bridge this gap, the two-day symposium looked at the challenges and the opportunities in the provision and use of interpreters, as well as adequate training solutions for such contexts of work. It was attended by more than 120 participants each day: practitioners, trainers and researchers, but also end-users, policy makers, representatives of NGOs, and stakeholders from the full spectrum of industries were represented. The invited speakers were all experts in distinct but complementary fields which are fundamental to this important area of the professional work of interpreters which is now attracting greater attention and visibility.
For any questions about the symposium please directly contact Dr Orlando:

  1. Papering over the cracks – the interpreter, the asylum seeker and the adjudicator: professionalism, justice and human rights

    Adolfo Gentile is a practitioner, trainer and researcher. He chaired the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) from 1995 to 2002 and was the president of FIT, the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs, from 1999 to 2002. He worked for many years at the then Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal as a member of those tribunals. He is a NAATI accredited Advanced Translator.

  2. The use of interpreters in a day to day military setting

    Andrew Baker, CSM, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Defence Force. He was based in Iraq and Afghanistan and worked with interpreters on a day to day basis over there.

  3. The National Emergency Management Project and sign language interpreter provision and training

    Julie Judd is the current President of ASLIA Victoria, the state branch of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association. She is also the coordinator of NEMP, the National Emergency Management (Auslan communications) Project.

  4. Preparing interpreters to work with survivors of trauma and torture

    Cecilia Lopez works as a counsellor, advocate and team coordinator at Foundation House, the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. She has participated in Professional Development short courses for interpreters to provide them with the skills necessary to work with survivors of trauma and torture.

  5. Keynote speakers – Respondent Panel

    Linda Fitchett
    Maya Hess
    Sandra Hale