Celebrating our interpreters and ‘harmony mediators’

WSLHD interpreter Josephine Elias

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) interpreter Josephine Elias arrived in Australia from Lebanon 30 years ago and could not speak a word of English.  

When her kids grew up, she mastered English and joined the Westmead family, where she first learned about Harmony Day.

“I love to celebrate Harmony Day. It’s an amazing learning opportunity, too. Knowing about different cultures and beliefs, we can live in harmony and respect our differences,” Josephine said.

As part of her duty to provide interpretation for clients, Josephine ensures people feel comfortable communicating and establishing trust with clinical staff.

“I remember how I felt when I arrived in Australia, which is why I strive to make their experience in our hospital smooth and pleasant,” Josephine said.

“We all are so different. Sometimes we don’t have an idea about other people’s culture and etiquette just because we have never encountered it, and it’s okay! I deliver this knowledge to healthcare providers so that together we all work and live in harmony,” Josephine said. 

Westmead Hospital patient Aziz (surname withheld), who speaks Arabic, uses the interpreter service to communicate with medical staff while receiving treatment.

“Harmony Day is the best thing about Australia,” Aziz said.

“It’s all about including and integrating people from around the world in one society. 

“I appreciate the efforts Westmead Hospital is making to make all patients have the best experience. 

“Thanks to amazing interpreters – they are indeed harmony mediators. We know, whatever happens, they’ve got our back!”

Western Sydney Local Health District is home to some of the largest cultural and linguistic diverse communities in NSW. 

Harmony Day is celebrated on March 21st. This year’s theme is ‘Everyone Belongs’.