Docklands translators given full-time roles

Docklands translators given full-time roles
David Schout

Fifty Docklands-based translators, whose work includes taking Triple Zero calls from non-English speaking Australians, have been transitioned from casual into full-time work.

The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National call centre workers, based at the Department of Home Affairs on Bourke St, had until now held labour-hire positions.

The first of its kind globally, TIS has operated since 1973 providing a free telephone interpreting service, and the operators handle more than a million calls each year, including more than 25,000 to emergency services.

They also translate vital information into more than 150 languages, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires, and floods.

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said it was an “an essential service for a multicultural country”.

“The TIS National contact centre connects Australians to essential services that we all rely on every day, including Triple Zero and other emergency support,” she said.


In our multicultural society it’s critical that language not be a barrier to accessing these services, especially during natural disasters and other crises.


At an April 13 announcement at Victoria Harbour she said the Federal Government was committed to reducing insecure work, which had real world impacts.

“We met David upstairs, a young dad of three young children who is employed as a labour hire casual in a job that was clearly permanent part‑time. Now he’s got that job security that he can count on and we’re really proud to be a part of making that change.”

Brooke Muscat from the Community and Public Sector Union Victoria said permanent public service jobs made for better service delivery and better workplaces. 

“This is a huge win for CPSU members in the interpreting service. Our members have been campaigning for years against the prolific use of labour hire and outsourcing in the public service,” she said.

She thanked the work of delegates whose campaigning had “changed the lives of 50 workers and their families”.

Ms O’Neil added that the move was particularly positive for women.

“The announcement today predominantly affects Australian women in the workers that are being converted and I’m really proud to support those women and make sure that the critical work that they are doing is properly recognised by their government.” •


Caption: A local call centre translator with Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil (Picture: Twitter @ClareONeilMP).

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