Batchelor Institute » Derek Hunt-Interpreting Success
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Date:February 01, 2013

Derek Hunt-Interpreting Success

Derek Hunt, a Yolngu man from Elcho Island recently completed a Diploma of Interpreting from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

Under the new Memorandum of Understanding between Batchelor Institute and the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) workplace professional development and experience is dovetailed with Batchelor Institute training and assessments to provide comprehensive evidence of competency. It is a great start for the new AIS/Batchelor partnership model of cooperative workplace training and assessment.

A member of the Northern Territory Government’s Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS), Hunt specialises in interpreting Djambarrpuyngu, the most widespread dialect of the Yolngu Matha language of northeast Arnhem Land, to ensure Djambarrpuyngu speakers with poor English language skills have their voice heard.

The Aboriginal Interpreter Service helps to alleviate the language barriers faced by many Indigenous people throughout the Northern Territory. More than 100 Indigenous languages and dialects are spoken in the Territory and many Indigenous Territorians speak English as their third or fourth language. AIS provides government and non-government agencies a 24 hour, 7 days per week interpreting service in most Indigenous languages and dialects spoken in the Territory. AIS interpreters are highly experienced in their specialist languages and where possible, accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. Employing more than 370 interpreters, AIS is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in Australia.

To effectively communicate in remote communities in the Territory an interpreter should be used to ensure your message is delivered accurately, in a culturally appropriate manner and is clearly understood.

Hunt explained that most of his work is in the courts, working with lawyers and clients to ensure they understand each other. He also works at the hospital, mainly the Mental Health Ward. Hunt said working in hospitals could be very difficult due to the lack of Djambarrpuyngu words for some body parts or ailments.

“Some newer doctors worry that patients don’t understand the health issues they face, so we work closely with doctors to get their message across clearly. While our interpreters already have a reputation for confidentiality, impartiality and accuracy, having a diploma gives doctors more confidence in your ability.”

Hunt said his diploma, which took three years to complete, meant that people could be confident he was interpreting accurately. This is crucial in court and in hospitals.

The Australian Government is supporting the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service to recruit, train and mentor interpreters as part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package.

Batchelor Institute has a free call line to assist Indigenous people to find out more about the program on 1800 677 095. Send e-mail enquiries to The friendly staff at Student Support are always there to help students.