The Victorian Multicultural Commission has provided scholarships to people from refugee backgrounds to undertake a Diploma of Interpreting at RMIT University.
The qualification leads to NAATI (National Australian Authority for Translators and Interpreters) accreditation.
Junthip Pornpiriyakhun was awarded a scholarship for the Diploma in Karen in 2009 and said it provided a great opportunity for her to contribute to the Karen community and assist people to communicate their needs.
"The Diploma of Interpreting taught at RMIT is not only very challenging and interesting, but it is also very professional and rewarding," she said.
"So much of how I have progressed I owe to the teachers in the Diploma program. They helped us to understand the importance of all aspects of the job and helped us to develop into the professionals we are today."
The Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, James Merlino, awarded the scholarships to 40 students at Queen’s Hall in Parliament House.
"Without an interpreter, many of Victoria’s new arrivals who do not speak English confidently can become isolated and restricted from participating in many activities," Mr Merlino said.
"They are also at risk of not securing the health, education, legal and employment advice they need for their new lives in Australia."
This year the scholarship languages are Dari and Tamil. Last year they were Nuer and Karen.
Since 2003, 192 students have been assisted to undertake the Diploma in 14 languages, resulting in 98 accredited interpreters entering the profession.
Professor David Hayward, Dean, School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, said the RMIT Translating and Interpreting program had become the major training provider in these rare and emerging languages.
"Our graduates are often the only accredited interpreters in these languages in Australia," Professor Hayward said.
The event was also attended by George Lekakis, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission; George Bisas, Chief Executive Officer, VITS Language Link; and Professor Julianne Reid, RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
Source: RMIT University http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=pbtvd9f75lws;STATUS=A