Breaking down language barriers for COVID-19 safety messages in western Sydney

Western Sydney community member Sukhdev Kaur Brar.

With the latest COVID-19 outbreak, the need for fast and accessible news updates has been more important than ever.

Since the pandemic began and into the current outbreak, Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Translation service team has ensured culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities were up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 updates.

Translation service manager Eva Melhem said access to translated information was critical for at least 50 per cent of the population in western Sydney who come from a culturally or linguistically diverse background.

“We have been working around the clock to ensure our vulnerable communities are kept well-informed about the latest changes in restrictions, venues of concern, testing clinics in their areas and vaccination,” Eva said on World Translation Day, Thursday 30 September.

“Since the beginning of the outbreak we have translated multiple health alerts, hospital signs and social media materials into 26 languages.

“We are now translating COVID-19 daily key points into Arabic, Chinese, Dari and Tamil and were the first team in NSW to do it.”

WSLHD’s translators joined their efforts and set new records in delivering translations within the shortest timeframes.

The largest project carried out by Translation services team in this outbreak involved 57 translators working together.

Conference call in action. WSLHD Translation services team has been working remotely even before the pandemic.

“Usually it takes a few days to complete translation of a small to medium document,” Eva said.   

“Every publication goes through strict quality control processes, such as proof reading and review.

“When the translation is ready, it goes to the graphic designer and then back to our team for a final proof.”

“We recently broke our own record and turned around a project with 10 languages within only eight hours. The daily key points are translated within 4-5 hours.”

Working remotely and at such high speed can be stressful. Eva said she was proud to see her team coming together and working as a well-oiled machine.

“My translators have shown an incredible understanding and cooperation. We have become more agile as a team and we are very dedicated to meet the needs of the community in these challenging times,” she said.

“With the great help with our colleagues from the Multicultural health team, we are confident in delivering high quality work.”

Members of WSLHD Translation services team: Esfandiar Sangsari, Eva Melhem, Ali Ghaznawee. (note: taken before mask requirements in hospitals).

WSLHD Translation services carry out written translation of texts into multiple languages for CALD patients and consumers to have access to user-friendly resources in their languages.

This is in line with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards ensuring the linguistic needs of Australia’s multicultural population are met. These efforts contribute to improving health literacy of Australia’s vulnerable communities.

To learn more about translation services, please visit WSLHD website.

This World Translation Day we thank our amazing translators who play a crucial role in the COVID-19 pandemic and make sure the diverse communities of western Sydney have access to latest and most accurate information.