Need an interpreter?
The national Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) provides professional, accredited interpreting and translating services to ACT Health and other health services. For more information call TIS on 131 450.
Friends and family members who are not accredited interpreters should only be used to interpret simple, day-to-day information that will not affect the patient’s medical care. In emergency situations, friends or family members may interpret important information, but this information should be checked using an accredited interpreter as soon as possible.
Accredited interpreters are trained professionals. Interpreters employed by TIS are insured for professional indemnity, public liability and workers compensation. Friends and family members may not be able to accurately interpret information about someone’s health, due to limited language skills, emotional involvement, and/or cultural norms. This may compromise the patient’s care and put the health care provider at risk of litigation.
For people with limited English proficiency:
People with limited English proficiency have the right to be provided with an interpreter, free of charge, when using all ACT Health services. Interpreters will not share your information with anyone else – this is a confidential service. You can also choose to have a male or female interpreter if you wish. If you need an interpreter to make an appointment with ACT Health, call TIS on 131 450.
For ACT Health staff:
Use of interpreters is required by ACT Government policy and legislation. To book an on-site (face‑to-face) or telephone interpreter, complete the TIS online booking form. You will need your unit’s TIS Client Code to make a booking.
To access a telephone interpreter immediately in 18 commonly spoken languages, call ATIS Voice on 1800 131 450. You will need your unit’s ATIS Voice Account Number and Access Number to use ATIS Voice (these are different to the TIS Client Code).
ATIS Voice is available in the following languages:
*Sudanese Arabic is not available through ATIS Voice.
If you do not know your unit’s TIS Client Code, ATIS Voice Account Number or ATIS Voice Access Number, contact the ACT Health Multicultural Health Policy Unit by phone on (02) 6205 1011 or email at email@example.com.
For other health care providers:
Medical practitioners (defined as general practitioners [GPs] and medical specialists) are eligible for the Department of Social Services' Free Interpreting Service and access to the Doctors Priority Line (DPL) when providing services that are:
- delivered in private practice
- provided to non-English speakers who are Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents.
More information for medical practitioners is available from the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).
National Interpreter Symbol
The National Interpreter Symbol is a simple way of showing where people with limited English proficiency can ask for an interpreter. People may also use the symbol to show that they need an interpreter.
Identifying the right language
You can use the ACT Health Language Identification Chart to identify which language is needed.
The ACT Health Interpreter Card is also available in 47 languages. This card can be printed or saved on a smartphone/tablet in the required language, and shown to health care providers when an interpreter is needed. Health care providers may also wish to provide these cards to patients for future use.
Working with interpreters
TIS provides useful tips for working effectively with interpreters and getting the most out of your interpreting session.