Do you need an interpreter?

Do you need an interpreter?

Translating and Interpreting in Your Language

In Canberra you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) if you need a language interpreter when you use any health service.

TIS is a free national interpreting service. For immediate help from a phone interpreter, call TIS on 131 450 for free.

You can find translated information about health services on the page Navigating the health system.

International sign for interpreters
Look for this symbol

Copy of the ACT Health Interpreter card

Health Interpreter Cards

You can use a Health Interpreter Card to tell health care providers that you need an interpreter. The card is available in 47 languages.

You can print a copy of the card or save it on a smartphone or tablet. Download the cards from ACT Health. 

For people with hearing or speech loss

For help with phone or video calls, you can use the National Relay Service. They help anyone who has difficulties speaking or hearing. Their services are free once you register on their website.

You can also access Auslan interpreting from the National Auslan Interpreter Booking & Payment Service (NABS). It is free for people over 65 or people with an NDIS plan.

You have the right to an interpreter when using any health service in the ACT. If you have an appointment soon and need an interpreter, tell your health service as soon as possible. The service can book an interpreter to help over the phone, or in person.

Trained Interpreters are important in health care

It’s important to use a professional interpreter in health care, especially in emergency situations. This will help make sure that the information you give and receive is translated correctly so you get the care you need.

Sometimes your family or friends won’t understand medical words or meanings properly, and they may be worried about talking about private or embarrassing things. You can ask for a male or female interpreter to make it easier to discuss private or personal details without embarrassment. Professional interpreters will not share your information with anyone unless you tell them they can.

Professional interpreters have special skills and training to work in health care. They are trained in how to translate medical words into your language. TIS and NABS make sure all their interpreters have been assessed by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).  For more information, visit the TIS website or the NABS website.

Information for doctors

Doctors in private practice can get free interpreter services for their patients. The Free Interpreting Service is accessible 24/7 by phone, or face-to-face interpreter services can be pre-booked.

Medical practitioners in private practice and their reception/support staff can access the service through the Doctors Priority Line (DPL). It is available for all services which are covered by Medicare and delivered in private practice for patients who have a Medicare card.

More information for health professionals

You might find that your doctor or other health care provider is unsure about how to use an interpreter.  The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) has information for health professionals about how to use the TIS.  You can find it here.

Last Updated on 25 January, 2024.