Domestic Violence and Interpreting. A National Forum

An inter-disciplinary forum on domestic violence took place at the Monash University Law Chambers on 24-25 September, addressing an issue that is commanding greater attention in the media, in government policy decisions, and in the volume and type of work that many interpreters engage in.

The two-day event, Domestic Violence & Interpreting: A National Forum, organised by the University’s Translation & Interpreting Studies Program, brought together professionals, stakeholders and policy analysts together with interpreters, and brought the expertise of leading Translation and Interpreting researcher Professor Maribel del Pozo Triviño – a trainer and practitioner who has led a large-scale and world-first study on domestic violence and interpreting – to Australia.

The Forum was opened by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, with initial addresses given also by Matthew Ryan, Operations Superintendent of the Victoria Police Family Violence Command, Frans Moens from the Victoria Interpreting and & Translating Service (VITS) and Professor Rita Wilson, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (LLCL).

Senator Fierravanti-Wells spoke about the vital role that interpreters perform in a variety of domestic violence interactions and the need for interpreters to observe impartiality, confidentiality and professional conduct, and referred to the principles of the Australia Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) Code of Ethics.

Mr Ryan acknowledged the role that interpreters perform and commended the work of many interpreters with whom he had worked in domestic violence-related interactions.

“I don’t envy the job that interpreters have to perform in many of the situations I’ve been in, involving domestic violence,” Mr Ryan said

Keynote speaker Professor del Pozo Triviño, from University of Vigo, Spain, gave two presentations, namely ‘The right of gender violence victims and survivors to understand and be understood’, and ‘Speak Out for Support (SOS-VICS) improving communication between service providers and victims and survivors of gender violence through interpreters’.

The forum was fortunate to have a presentation from Magistrate Anne Goldsbrough, who has been a leader in the area of Family Violence and Family Law since 1996 and who has been instrumental in the development and implementation of a range of specialist Family Violence initiatives and practice improvements in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatric Research Centre, and herself a practising psychiatrist, spoke on ‘Mental health aspects for victims of family violence’ and the effects that trauma caused by domestic violence on the discourse of women.

Presentations were given by researchers working in criminology, women’s studies, social work and social welfare. Spoken- and signed-language interpreters also addressed the Forum which was attended by 150 practising interpreters.