Symposium on Interpreter Training and Humanitarian Interpreting

The Translation and Interpreting Studies program organised a symposium on humanitarian interpreting on April 1&2, 2016.

The work of interpreters in the 21st century is characterised by a need to adapt to many different contexts and modalities of work. One of these is the humanitarian context: in conflict zones, in disaster zones, in refugee camps or in terrorism trials for example, interpreters have to cope with specific demands and realities. How do interpreters respond to them? How are they prepared to face them? What policies are put in place to help and protect them?

As Dr Marc Orlando, the symposium organiser and T&I program director, said in his opening remarks: “Delivering military assistance or emergency and humanitarian aid across language and cultural barriers and through interpreters and language mediators can be a major challenge. Working in high-risk settings and stressful environments can pose numerous challenges to the interpreters involved in the field. Unfortunately training for professional interpreters and interpreter users in this area is very limited.”

In an attempt to bridge this gap, the two-day symposium looked at the challenges and the opportunities in the provision and use of interpreters, as well as adequate training solutions for such contexts of work. It was attended by more than 120 participants each day: practitioners, trainers and researchers, but also end-users, policy makers, representatives of NGOs, and stakeholders from the full spectrum of industries were represented. The invited speakers were all experts in distinct but complementary fields which are fundamental to this important area of the professional work of interpreters which is now attracting greater attention and visibility.

For any questions about the symposium please directly contact Dr Orlando:

View the video of the full symposium

Further resources on humanitarian interpreting and interpreter training are available here.


(Final programme – click here)

Keynote address 1: Dr Maya Hess and Ms Linda Fitchett

Joining forces: The quest for protected-person status for linguists in conflict situations (Abstract)

Dr Maya Hess


Maya Hess is the founder and CEO of Red T (, a U.S.-based non-profit organisation that advocates worldwide on behalf of translators and interpreters in conflict zones and other high-risk settings. As a forensic linguist, Maya provided language support and expert witness services in many high-profile terrorism trials and experienced firsthand how vulnerable members of this profession can be. She holds an M.A. in Journalism from New York University, a Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as an M. Phil. and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York.

Ms Linda Fitchett

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Born and educated in England, Linda Fitchett was a practicing conference interpreter for 37 years. She worked as a freelance for various international organisations and private business in France for 20 years, then as a staff interpreter of the English interpretation service in the European Parliament for17 years until retirement. An active member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters since 1974, she has participated in many of its varied activities and was the President of AIIC from 2012 until January 2015. She coordinates the AIIC project for Interpreters in Conflict Zones.

Keynote address 2: Professor Sandra Hale

The need for specialist legal interpreters for a fairer justice system (Abstract)


Dr Sandra Hale, a NAATI accredited Spanish<>English translator and Conference interpreter, is Professor of Interpreting and Translation at the University of New South Wales, where she convenes the Interpreting and Translation programs and teaches Interpreting in community, legal and conference settings. She has conducted much of her research into legal interpreting issues, has lectured in the areas of forensic linguistics, legal, community and conference interpreting as well as research methods, and she is regularly invited to deliver plenary addresses and workshops on interpreting to lawyers, judicial officers and tribunal members. She has published extensively and is the author of seminal works such as The Discourse of Court Interpreting (2004) and Community Interpreting (2007).
Dr Hale is the current national president of AUSIT, the Australian professional association for translators and interpreters and is currently co-authoring a national protocol on court interpreting, sponsored by the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity, chaired by the Hon Wayne Martin.


Symposium organiser

Dr Marc Orlando  – Senior Lecturer and Monash T&I Program Director –


This symposium was co-sponsored by
Monash University and Oncall Interpreters and Translators

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