The government of the state of Victoria in Southeast Australia has set aside AUD 21.8m (USD 16.3m) for the language services industry in the state budget for 2017-2018 announced on May 3, 2017.
The funds are mainly for providing quality language services to the state’s multicultural communities, especially in rural and regional areas.
“New migrants who choose to make Victoria their home can face many challenges, including barriers to communication – particularly when it comes to highly technical language. This new investment will increase the capacity of the state’s interpreting industry,” the Ministry of Multicultural Affairs explained.
The funding will also provide more professional development and training for interpreters, which forms a key part of the government’s bigger AUD 42.8m investment in the state’s cultural diversity, according to the Ministry. The budget document, however, did not reveal many other details of how the investment will be allocated.
One of the likely beneficiaries of increased state investment is Melbourne-based language service provider (LSP) Translationz. The company offers a cloud-based interpretation platform, which should be a particularly attractive option in a country as far-flung as Australia.
“We look forward to seeing the detail on the strategy to increase the capacity, and more specifically apply that capacity efficiently to the communities who need assistance,” Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz, told Slator in an email interview. Hodgson also welcomed the government’s specific mention of rural and regional areas.
Like Swiss startup Interprefy, Translationz is facing the challenge of signing up interpreters to its platforms. Hodgson told Slator that “Translationz has contacted more than 700 NAATI qualified interpreters (The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) to provide access to our cloud interpreting platform. We have received feedback from more than 300 interpreters. One clear skill gap for many experienced Australian interpreters and translators is knowing how to use the latest interpreting and translation technology solutions.”
“Any increase in the capacity of the interpreting industry in Victoria would require a range of initiatives addressing the issues such as a pool of available interpreters per language, expanding the number of service providers on government panels, and managing technology to make interpreters available when and where they are required,” Hodgson added.
It appears the government’s May 3 announcement is a step in that direction.