Language Policy Liaison of Translating & Interpreting Service (TIS): Fund interpreters for allied health to provide primary mental health care
It's simple. Unless the Australian government funds TIS interpreter services for allied health practitioners, people from culturally & linguistically diverse backgrounds have virtually no access to primary mental health care.
A general practitioner may assess their condition using an interpreter, but cannot make a referral to a Medicare registered occupational therapist, psychologist or social worker under the "Better Access to Mental Health" scheme to actually address the condition because interpreter services are not funded.
Unlike other Australians, people who need an interpreter cannot access primary mental health care and therefore suffer with unnecessary disability and distress. Missing the opportunity for early intervention, mental illness can endure and become severe enough to warrant admission to the acute psychiatric unit of a tertiary hospital.
The current state of affairs is inconsistent with the federal government’s commitment to access and equity that underpins our multicultural society.
Allied health practitioners providing primary mental health care to the public must be funded to use TIS interpreters to ensure access and equity for Australia's diverse community with over 260 languages and 270 ancestries.
Interpreters are a non-negotiable in the provision of a mental health service where patient safety and treatment efficacy is utterly reliant on verbal communication.
Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seekers (OOFRAS) Inc is a network of occupational therapists with interest and/or expertise working with refugees and asylum seekers. We work to respect, protect and defend the occupational needs and rights of displaced people because it is the foundation of health and social inclusion.
Addressing disparity caused by this language services policy is consistent with our professional code of ethics to provide service according to need and without discrimination. We welcome collaboration and support from anyone who shares this mission and vision.
A background briefing on this interpreter issue can be found on our website
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