Domestic Violence & Interpreting: A National Forum

Domestic Violence & Interpreting: A National Forum

On 24-25 September 2015, the Translation & Interpreting Studies Program, Monash University convened a forum in Melbourne addressing the area of domestic violence and the provision of interpreting services for victims of domestic violence and their families.

The Forum brought together researchers in Translation and Interpreting Studies, Gender Violence, Criminology, Social Work, Psychiatry, a practising counsellor specialising in working with victims of domestic violence, a Melbourne Magistrate, representatives from inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, a researcher/interpreter and practising interpreters.

This forum featured a variety of different perspectives and is intended for practising professional interpreters, professionals employed in the languages services industry, researchers and policy-makers in language services and domestic violence, and for organisations providing services to the victims of domestic violence and their families.

Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells Federal Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs addressed and formally opened the Forum.

Read Sen. Fierravanti-Wells' opening and welcome speech.

Mr Matthew Ryan, Operations Superintendent, Victorian Police Family Violence Command, addressed the Forum, and outlined the function of the Victorian Police Family Violence Command, that was established in March 2915. Operations Superintendent Matthew Ryan outlined statistics that indicate how the reporting of domestic violence has increased in the last 10 years. In 2004, Victoria Police officers attended 28,000 family violence incidents. In 2014, this figure had increased to 68,000. A significant number of the family violence incidents required the services of interpreters.

In addressing reported family violence incidents, Operations Superintendent Matthew Ryan said that there was a dual emphasis: holding perpetrators to account; assisting victims. Interpreters are needed for both these tasks. Operations Superintendent Matthew Ryan acknowledged the role that interpreters perform and commended the work of many interpreters with whom he had worked in domestic violence-related interactions, remarking that “I don’t envy the job that interpreters have to perform in many of the situations I’ve been in, involving domestic violence”.

Mr Frans Moens, Operations Manager from the Victorian Interpreting & Translating Service (VITS) addressed the Forum and spoke about the increasing demand for interpreters in interactions that involve communication with victims of domestic violence, their family members, and with perpetrators of domestic violence. With increasing rates of the reporting of domestic violence, the Language Services sector is seeking to source greater numbers of NAATI-accredited interpreters to meet demand.

Professor Rita Wilson, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University and the founder of the Translation & Interpreting Studies Program at Monash University also addressed the Forum and the importance of co-operation between industry and educational institutions in advancing the skills and knowledge base of professional interpreters.

Full Program of the Domestic Violence & Interpreting Forum, including abstracts of presentations and bio-sketches of presenters.

Forum Program

Day 1 – Thursday 24 September 2015

Keynote speaker:

Prof. Maribel del Pozo Triviño (Faculty of Philology and Translation, University of Vigo, Spain, Co-ordinator of the Speak Out for Support SOS-VICS Collaborative Project on Gender Violence & Interpreting)

Further speakers:

Prof. Jude McCulloch (Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Monash University)

Assoc. Prof. JaneMaree Maher (Director, Centre for Women’s Studies & Gender Research, Monash University)

Ms Melek Cetiner & Ms Suzy Pinchen, Cross-cultural Training & Project Co-ordinators (VICSEG)

Day one of ‘Domestic Violence & Interpreting. A National Forum' was proudly sponsored by VITS – Victorian Interpreting & Translating Service.

Day 2 – Friday 25 September 2015

Keynote speaker:

Prof. Jayashri Kulkarni (Practising Psychiatrist. Director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatric Research Centre)

Further speakers:

Magistrate Anne Goldsbrough (Specialist Family Violence Magistrate, Law Reform Commissioner for the ALRC Family Violence and Family Law Inquiry 2010, holder of the Multicultural and Diversity Portfolio for the Magistrate's Court, member of the National Judicial Council for Cultural Diversity Leader)

  • Family Violence in Context – Interpreters in our Court Proceedings.

Dr Deborah Western (Dept. of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University)

Ms Olga Garcia-Caro (Practising Interpreter & PhD student at RMIT University)

Ms Maya Avdibegovic (CEO, In Touch – Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence)

  • Perspectives from services providers for victims of domestic violence and their families

Ms Eva Hussain (CEO, Polaron; NAATI-accredited Professional Polish-English Interpreter and Translator)

  • Perspectives of an interpreter working with victims of domestic violence, their families and service providers.

Ms Melissa Lowrie (Manager, Deaf Victoria), Mr Mark Quinn (Auslan/Eng. interpreter, ASLIA, VicDeaf), Ms Maxine Buxton (Former President ASLIA Victoria, Auslan/Eng. interpreter)

Organiser of Forum:

Dr Jim Hlavac

Senior Lecturer, Translation & Interpreting Studies, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, Monash University




Monash University’s Translation & Interpreting Studies, ‘Domestic Violence & Interpreting – A National Forum’ was an important contribution to the Translation and Interpreting industry.

Three senior staff from TIS National participated in the two-day forum on 24–25 September 2015. They compiled a report on the key learnings gained from the:

  • two keynote speakers
  • researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplines
  • Melbourne Magistrate presentations from both signed and spoken language interpreters.

I would like to congratulate the organiser of the event, Dr Jim Hlavac, and express our appreciation that we could become better informed about important social, legal, health and community issues, based on presentations from experts in many respective fields. I found it to be very relevant to TIS National and a well organised event.

TIS National interpreters interact with a variety of clients, some of who are victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. It is important that there is an open exchange of knowledge, practice-based research and training opportunities between universities and workplaces. At the event, Professor Rita Wilson emphasised the goal of academia to be outward looking and engage with industry. In terms of engaging with the industry, this event was a big success.

After attending the event participants shared key learnings from the forum with members of the TIS National Extended Leadership team.

In summary, the forum provided an informative insight into the needs for interpreting services in legal, mental health and domestic violence areas.

Alison Thorne

Manager Interpreter and Language Policy Liaison

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)


Thank you to our volunteers – students of the Monash University Master in Interpreting and Translation Studies: Paula Alejandra Aparicio Bravo, Qian Dong, Emily Durbin, Nicole Ho Yan Lau, Olivia Tong Li, Ning Liu, Su Yeon Park, Alessandra Pigliasco, Janneth del Carmen Santafe Sanchez, Meagan Sneddon, Yu Sun, Jingwen Tan, Melanie Taylor, Min Teo, Yang Lily Han-Yin, Yuan Yuan, Christy Zhang, Kay Zhao.