WA Language Services Policy

​​​​​The Off​ice of Multicultural Interests (OMI) has had responsibility for language services since the endorsement by Cabinet of a Western Australian Language Services Strategy in 1992.

The first WA Language Services Policy was endorsed in 2000 and last revised in 2014.

The 2014 policy and guidelines are currently being updated, however, the fundamental requirements for WA public sector agencies will not change.

The policy seeks to ensure that in a linguistically diverse community, limited competence in the English language is not a barrier to accessing services. Western Australians who may require assistance to communicate effectively include people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.

The WA Language Services Policy 2014 requires State Government agencies to:

  • plan for, fund and deliver language services that take into account relevant government policies, legal circumstances and the particular profile and needs of current and potential clients
  • ensure clients who are not able to communicate in spoken and/or written English are made aware of:
    • their right to communicate in their preferred language
    • when and how to ask for an interpreter
    • com​​plaints processes
  • provide interpreters who are certified by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), or tertiary qualified (preferably both) to clients where required, free of charge and taking into account the particular service provided and/or the level of risk to clients' rights, health or safety
  • ensure all relevant staff are able to identify when to engage an interpreter and how to work with an interpreter
  • use multilingual communication strategies and the cultural and linguistic skills of employees where appropriate
  • incorporate provision for meeting language services needs in contractual arrangements with service providers.​

The policy is supplemented by comprehensive guidelines that include information about:

  • linguistic diversity in WA
  • how to assess the need for an interpreter
  • how to use an interpreter—face-to-face and by telephone
  • quality control and quality assurance in interpreting and translating
  • rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in the interpreting process
  • NAATI certification levels and tertiary qualifications in interpreting and translating
  • planning and contracting for translations
  • ethics
  • complaints processes.​​​​​

Key documents

Languages Services Policy 2014 cover

WA Language Services Policy 2014

This policy aims to ensure that all Western Australians have equitable access to information and services.
Page reviewed 20 August 2020