If you live in New South Wales (NSW), you have the legal right to have an interpreter when the police or other government agencies question you.
This right is protected under:
- NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
- and the NSW Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
Additionally, Part 9 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), s.128 states that you have the right to the services of an interpreter.
Why is this Right Important?
Many residents of NSW don’t speak English as their first language. This may make it a challenge to understand and communicate in English.
In high-stress situations, such as police questioning, the presence of an interpreter can be crucial in ensuring that individuals are able to fully understand their rights and communicate effectively with authorities. The use of an interpreter also helps ensure that police conduct the questioning in a fair and unbiased manner.
How to Request an Interpreter during Questioning
If you police or another government agency question you and you require an interpreter, it is important to inform the officer or agent conducting the questioning of your need for an interpreter as soon as possible. You can also request an interpreter through a lawyer or through the organisation that is questioning you.
In NSW, The Department of Communities and Justice provides interpreter services for various government agencies, including the police. In NSW police are required to provide an interpreter free of charge if you request one.
The importance of a qualified interpreter
The interpreter that the Government provides during questioning should have the qualifications and the necessary training and accreditation. This is to ensure that the interpretation is accurate and that cultural nuances go into consideration during the questioning process.
In NSW, there are organisations that set the national standards for interpreting and translation services and issues accreditation to qualified practitioners.