People from non-english speaking backgrounds

Support when reporting the crime

If English is not your first language you can choose to have a relative, friend or support person with you when you report to the police.

The police will arrange for an interpreter if a person being interviewed:

  • is unable to communicate in English

  • has a limited understanding of English

  • is more comfortable communicating in their own language

  • is deaf, hearing impaired or speaking impaired

  • is a child and the appropriate adult requires one

  • wants an interpreter.

If you need an interpreter when calling triple zero '000', say "interpreter" and the language you speak. The operator will try to connect you to an interpreter immediately.

If you want to call the Police Assistance Line and need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask to be connected to 131 444. This service is free.

You can also phone the Victims Access Line on 1800 633 063 who can put you in contact with a victims support group.

Many police local area commands have Specialist Police Officers called Ethnic Community Liaison Officers.

Interpreters in court

If English is not your first language, you may need to use an interpreter to help you give evidence, they can also interpret when a witness is making a statement.

If you feel you need an interpreter, talk to the police prosecutor or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer. As there are a limited number of interpreters available, it is important to let the prosecution know well in advance if one is needed.

The courts arrange for interpreters, who are provided by the Community Relations Commission, Courts only use professional interpreters who are properly trained and accredited.

Professional interpreters are bound by rules not to tell other people about the case unless the court requires it. They are also required to take an oath where they promise to properly interpret what is said.

If you believe the interpreter is not interpreting your evidence accurately you should complain to the prosecutor or tell the magistrate or judge.

Witnesses do not have to pay for interpreters.