Phone Interpreting Services in Australia

Last Updated On: September 6, 2023


Phone translating and interpreting services have been around for quite a long time now, but have grown in importance, partly because of the ease of communications today as well as an almost insatiable growth in demand.

Reasons why a translation and interpretation service by phone is so much in demand

Phone interpreter services in Australia are important because of the country’s large migrant and refugee community and huge distances. Many migrants choose to live in one of Australia’s largest cities where every kind of service, including interpreters and translators, are available. But not every person who needs a service of this kind can easily get someone to interpret for them in a face to face situation.

Certainly, migrants and refugees who are based in one of Australia’s more remote towns or smaller cities will find that there is no interpreting and translating center anywhere near them. Let’s say that they have a query about their visa application. They live over 300 km away from the nearest city. Their English is not yet good enough for a simple telephone conversation, even though it is improving fast. What do they do? They may first wonder “where is there an interpretation and translation service near me?” The answer is: 300 km away! Should they give up their job for a few days and go into the city to make their inquiries or is there a better way?


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    This is where a phone interpreting service really comes into its own. All the person who needs the service does is to arrange to schedule a phone call with a phone interpreting service and the individual or department he or she wants to communicate with. It will cost money, of course, but will be a lot cheaper than having to take time off work and go into a city and hire an interpreter for a conversation.

    The other point about phone translation and interpretation, of course, is that it saves a lot of time. Face to face interpreting services may be more effective overall, as facial signals can help when there is an impasse in the communication process, but it takes time to organize, a suitable location and generally costs a lot more, although many government departments in Australia do provide interpreting services in key migrant languages like Arabic, Hindi, Chinese etc.

    Another reason for using a phone interpreting service in Australia is to help remote indigenous communities where residents have little English speaking ability to communicate with key government agencies in the nearest center to them.

    How a phone interpreting service works

    A phone interpreting service works via a phone interpreter who can understand and speak fluently in the language needed as well as English of course. Most phone interpreting services have a list of possible interpreters who can be called upon when a session is scheduled. Obviously, this service is unlikely to be totally spontaneous except for a few Major languages for which there may be several possible interpreters available who can be called on at short notice.

    What is needed, then, is for the two people making the call to have a phone link through the interpreter. Each person in the conversation speaks in turn and then the interpreter interprets what has been said to the other person at the end of the line. This is a service that relies on real human interpreters who can adjust their speech to the people having the conversation i.e. they can slow down or speed up, make allowances for dialect and colloquialisms and refer back to either speaker to ensure that the correct meaning is given over the phone. A more elaborate way of providing the service is by video phone, which allows each caller to see the other person responding to what they are saying. This is almost as good as having a face to face conversation with an interpreter there with the participants. Obviously, the success of the phone interpreting service does depend on how good the transmission is between the two callers and the interpreter. It is unlikely to be very effective if one of the callers is using a mobile phone in a place where the voice signal is not very good. Also, background noise can be disruptive if it is too noisy or confusing. This means that both callers must prepare themselves a bit before making the call to ensure that their communication is as good as it could be.


    Phone interpreting services are growing in number and versatility across Australia. This expansion is fed by a growth in demand, better technology and the generally huge distances that can separate people who need to communicate with each other, but who need someone to help them understand each other.

    Interpreting is following translation in providing an economical service on demand which saves time and provides a quality of service which is almost as good as a face to face interpreting service.

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