Video Relay Interpreting

Keri Gilbert reflects on ten years with NABS

Written on the 17 March 2015 by Keri Gilbert

Keri Gilbert reflects on ten years with NABS


I started work with NABS in October 2004. NABS was actually launched in January 2005.

We had approximately three months to get it up and running after Wesley Mission Brisbane (WMB) won the tender to auspice NABS.

I was drawn to the role because I saw an opportunity to provide a different kind of service to Deaf people.  A service that gave Deaf people more control and choices.  NABS was the first and is also the only national service for the Deaf community and that also interested me as it had never been done before. NABS represented a significant shift in how services would be delivered to the Deaf community and the ability for Deaf people to choose who they wanted to be their interpreter.

We started in one room with three staff and a handful of interpreters. We now have 20 staff in the contact centre, two full time staff interpreters - one each in the NT and Tasmania and more than 500 interpreters working as casual employees. In our first month we processed about 100 bookings, now we process approximately 2,500 thousand every month. In the first 12 months we toured the country meeting with Deaf community groups and clubs to promote NABS and explain how the new service would work. NABS has been heartily embraced by the Deaf community and Interpreters.

NABS services has had a profound impact on health outcomes for Deaf people and their families. Having interpreters provided for their health care has enabled them to make informed choices and have a full and proper understanding of their health situation and treatment.

NABS also wanted to provide a better employment model for interpreters.  We wanted to move interpreters from being casual or contracted workers to being staff that had entitlements such as superannuation, long service leave and full insurance coverage. While this is more common now it certainly was not the case ten years ago when NABS was established. We feel we have set the standard which others have had to follow.

Keri GilbertAuthor:Keri Gilbert
About: NABS Manager
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