How Australia’s Unique Community Translation Needs Are Serviced
Ah, Australia! That funny, not so little country (and continent) on the other side of the world, where kangaroos can be seen boxing for fun and deadly snakes eat children for breakfast. Well…not really.
Not everything you hear about Australia is a fact. But, here is one truth for you.
Australia is the second most multicultural country in the world according to a report commissioned by AMP.
And as the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found, almost 30% of Australians were born overseas.
So, as you can imagine, this presents some cultural and linguistic challenges for new migrants who make Australia their home. Some examples of these challenges include those faced when trying to access social services, or attending a medical appointment.
Or even finding community services that can help with a migrants integration into the Australian way of life.
The Journey from Cyprus to Australia
One of those migrants was my father, George, who at the age of thirteen, was told to pack his bags for the journey of a lifetime. Goodbye Cyprus. Hello Australia!
Arriving in 1974, brought up speaking Greek and with very little English, my father experienced first-hand the challenges that many migrants face when uprooting their life to move to another country.
Namely, he was faced with language barriers and cultural differences that made what should have been an exciting new life particularly tough.
Growing up, my father would tell me about these stories, in particular, those from his childhood.
Some of the stories were funny and made me laugh. But some of them were heartbreaking and made me frustrated at how cruel humans can be.
This included stories about social isolation that he faced in the schoolyard because of his limited English skills, or blatantly racism for being a “wog” (a derogatory racial slur used against European migrants who settled in Australia).
The Birth of EthnoLink
Motivated by the stories that my father told me growing up, deep down, I always knew that I wanted to work in a field that allowed me to help others communicate.
That’s why in 2011, I founded EthnoLink, a translation company focused on community engagement with Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Today, EthnoLink is recognised as one of Australia’s largest translation companies with thousands of clients across all levels of Government and throughout the private and not for profit sector.
Since inception, we’ve translated millions of words and helped bridge the communication gap that exists for Australia’s new migrants.
Community Translation Services
Given Australia’s rich multicultural background, we specialise in what has now become known within Australia as community translation services.
So, what does this mean?
Community translation services are translation services that give people access to information about vital community and government services in their preferred language.
This usually means that we translate fact sheets, information booklets, brochures, websites, posters and flyers from English into a range of languages that meet the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Australia’s Diverse Languages
In Australia, there are some community languages such as Greek and Italian that have historically (since around the 1950s) had a high number of speakers.
However, these community languages are in decline due to an ageing population.
Taking their place, emerging languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, Punjabi and Nepalese are growing at a rapid pace due to more recent migration patterns.
At EthnoLink, we believe that connection is at the heart of humanity. Unfortunately, language creates a barrier to this connection.
When Australians can’t access information in their preferred language, the very fabric of a cohesive society slowly begins to erode and connection is lost.
That’s why we’re on a mission to connect the world through language (beginning with Australia!)
Whilst we are quite aware that Australia’s translation industry is somewhat different to large parts of the global industry, we are proud to be involved in such meaningful work that has a true impact on the lives of ordinary Australians, each and every day.
Costa Vasili is the founder and CEO of EthnoLink – an Australian-based translation company specialising in the provision of community translation services by NAATI Certified translators. With ten years of experience in the translation industry and a Bachelor of Business (Management and Information Technology) from Monash University, Costa is passionate about progressing the global language services industry by marrying the best elements of humanity and technology.