Symposium: Caution! Police & Interpreters Talking

4 May 2017

By all accounts, the recent symposium Caution! Police and Interpreters talking was a success.

Over 200 registered audience included professional interpreters and members of professional association, police and Masters and PhD students from UNSW and other Sydney-based universities. Senior officials included the NAATI CEO and the NSW Police Chief Superintendent. The panel was moderated by Associate Professor Ludmila Stern and included AFP and NSW Police officers with local and overseas experience, and police and interpreting educators and interpreters, including our own HAL staff. The discussion revolved around the current practice and the need for improvements, leading to the change of protocols and policies. Professor Sandra Hale preceded the Panel discussion by illustrating through original video recordings, challenges of police-interpreter-NESB suspect interactions. 

This year's symposium was the first inter-professional dialogue between interpreters and the Police. We attribute the high interest in this event partly to that but also to the professional needs for further education and up-skilling amongs both professional groups. From the Police perspective, it was the importance of education about operating in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual society where reliance on interpreters becomes imperative. The aim of yesterday's dialogue was to improve the interactions between these two professions by developing a better undertanding of each other's professional needs, capabilities and limitation.

The very positive feedback from the panel participants and the audience highlighted the learning value of the event. From our Masters students' perspective, hearing from experienced interpreters and police continued to prepare them for future experiencial learning through practicum, the complex interpreting and interpersonal skills they acquire through our Masters program in order to interpret for the Police. Prof?essional interpreters were reminded of requesting briefing and preparation materials, and standing their ground when asked to go beyond their role and professional code of ethics. Last but not least, the police officers developed a clearer understanding about how to set expectations and respect the interpreters' professional needs

Thanks to the Faculty's SPF02 conference subvention funding, we could provide mid-afternoon refreshments and bring an AFP officer with overseas inverstigations expertise from Canberra.

Many thanks to the symposium organisers Sean Cheng, Sandra Hale and Ludmila Stern and Associate Professor Uldis Ozolins as the discussant. A specical thank you to our volunteers, led by Han (Kuki) Xu and Bosheng Jing, as well as Alana Cerkesas and Elyse Atkinson and  for helping organise and promote this very successful symposium.