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Language and the Law II Conference

Posted by Liz Temple on 3 December 2015

The second Language and the Law Conference was recently hosted by the Supreme Court in Darwin and proved to be a great conference, bringing together professionals from a mix of disciplines from the Northern Territory and Australia.

The conference was held for interpreters and professionals who provide services to clients in Courts for whom English is not their first language. Over 200 delegates attended, including interpreters, interpreter trainers, judges and magistrates, lawyers, police officers, correctional officers, and linguists.

Key note speakers included:

  • The Hon Chief Justice Robert French AC (High Court of Australia)
  • Mr Russell Goldflam (President of the Criminal Lawyers Assoc NT) 
  • Professor Diana Eades (Fellow, Australian Academy of the Humanities)
  • Professor Sandra Hale (Professor of Interpreting and Translation, Uni of NSW, AUSIT National President)
  • and Dr Georgina Heydon (Forensic Linguist, Senior Lecturer RMIT)

NABS Professional NT Interpreter, Elizabeth Temple made a presentation on working with Deaf people in the justice system. Liz spoke about the diversity of language and communication modes used by Deaf people within the NT, highlighting best practice methods in working with interpreter teams and promoting awareness of the actions required to ensure greater access and equity throughout the justice system including at police and legal interviews, court and the prison environments including access to rehabilitation programs.

Some other highlights from the conference included:

  • The development of a plain English legal dictionary (developed by NAAJA, ARDS & AIS). This is a great resource for all interpreters working within the context of the law and is available at
  • Reverse role plays whereby two Judges and the President of the Criminal Lawyers Assoc NT were put in the position of being the accused with the Court being held in a different language. Some of this was aired by ABC television or viewed on youtube
  • Professor Hale discussed pragmatics and the delivery of meaning as opposed to word for word based interpreting
  • Redrafting charges into plain English by Ms Elizabeth Morris SM Magistrates Court NT
  • The development of a Police Caution App available in a variety of Aboriginal languages which gets delivered to police on their Ipads.
  • Vicarious trauma and burnout and the requirement to develop appropriate support, supervision and training for interpreters in this field
  • The use and development of visual supports for defendants, victims and witnesses who experience greater communication vulnerability in the Courtroom setting.
  • The potential use of technology, including videoconferencing pros and cons.

The conference will be held again in another two years.

Author:Liz Temple
About: Professional Interpreter for NABS, Northern Territory
Tags:Interpreter News
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