- Business News : Kiribati reviews Banking Act for second bank [08/03/2021 - Kiribati]
- News Feature : Reef revival: Fiji's corals bouncing back after ruinous cyclone [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- News Feature : OCO Pacific women in Customs series: Avalisa's balancing act to keep Samoa safe [08/03/2021 - Samoa]
- News : Fijians register now for COVID-19 vaccines: Dr Fong [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- News : NZ diplomat says they did not draft Fiji Police Bill [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- Sports News : AIBA President pledges to support planning for Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games [08/03/2021 - Switzerland]
- Sports News : Vela Naucukidi keen to make history on and off the pitch for Fiji at Tokyo 2020 [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- News Feature : Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- Business News : COVID affects Solomon Islands tourism & aviation, holiday deal launched [08/03/2021 - Solomon Islands]
- News : China could soon outgun U.S. in western Pacific, Indo-Pacific chief says [08/03/2021 - United States]
- News : Draft Police Bill is draconian – Fiji Opposition leader Gavoka [08/03/2021 - Fiji]
- News : PNG Government secures K1billion loan from Japan for Covid-19 [08/03/2021 - Papua New Guinea]
- Sponsored : Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC)
As Australia begins its COVID-19 vaccination programme Monday, there is concern in Victoria's Pasifika community about a lack of information in language
Despite the headline “COVID-19 vaccine information in your language” displayed prominently on the Australian Health Department's website, the only Pacific language available is Samoan.
This is concerning for Rita Seumanutafa, who runs a consultancy business and also serves on the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group, helping to share messages about the COVID-19 vaccination program.
“Our people are getting their news from Facebook posts. There's a copy-paste anti-vaxxer post going around at the moment and I'm just thinking to myself none of this advice is from a medical professional but I know our people will be reading it word for word," Seumanutafa told Pacific Beat.
“With the vaccine I can already see from the Federal Government that's there a lack of Pacific language translations. My understanding is they will be added in time but with all the vaccine stories in the news, I feel that information should be there right now," she said.
As a registered Samoan phone translator, Tony Fretton is a provider who has seen the number of calls coming his way rise significantly during the pandemic.
Fretton said there is are “systemic issues within translating and interpreting services” which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The issue is that in order for a lot of these documents to be translated, there are systems that have been put in place by the government where you've got to have NAATI accreditation.”
NAATI is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, which is the national standards and accreditation body for translators and interpreters in Australia.
“The issue with some of the specific languages is that we've got people ready to translate but they don't have the exam available here in Victoria for people to go and sit those exams and become accredited,” Fretton said.
“So when the Government wants a translation in Samoan or Tongan language, most of the criteria will include that you have to be NAATI accredited and the problem is that for the past 5 to 10 years, there has never been an exam ready for our community to take”.
He said that as a result, much of the translating work required within Australia's Pasifika community is done informally by family members and friends.
“As part of any first generation, that's part of our life, translating for our parents or elders. But having the accreditation is lifechanging because it's not only in health messages but it's also things like employment services and recruitment services and not only that we don't have accredited interpreters in the court and legal systems,” he said.
“I think COVID-19 really shone a light on what was missing in the system”.
Many members from the Pacific community are New Zealand citizens, and those who fall under the subclass 444 visa are not able to access Federal government benefits which includes subsidised English classes.
Rita Seumanutafa wants more consistency on translation strategies, to ensure that Pacific island community members have access to accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines.
“If you're going to get vaccinated or you're not going to get vaccinated, then the main thing I would hope to see is that it's because of an informed decision,” she said.
“That's what I hope to see instead of your decision not to be vaccinated, based on what you see on social media,” she said.
The Federal Government's Department of Health told the ABC that Samoan was selected for translation as it has the largest population of Pacific Islander groups with low English proficiency.
It also said the Department is working closely with the CALD advisory group and that it will take further advice from it, on whether additional translations are required.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media