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Rights to an interpreter

A client's right to an interpreter

 Information for the public 
 Information for health workers 
 Information for interpreters 
 Information for funded non-Government organisations 
 Guidelines and resources 
 Contact the Queensland Health Interpreter Service 

The Queensland Government recognises that a significant number of people do not speak English well enough or are not able to communicate adequately with Queensland Government staff and Queensland Government funded non-government organisations.

The Queensland Government Language Services Policy states that clients should be provided with fair and equitable access to services that are responsive and high quality. Queensland Health implements this policy by ensuring staff act on the obligation to provide effective, efficient and inclusive services through appropriate use of interpreters for people that are not proficient in English.

Interpreters can be provided in person, over the phone or via video conference.

The Queensland Health Working with Interpreter Guidelines state that a professional interpreter should be engaged when the information to be communicated to the patient is significant for health and/or health outcomes and the person’s English skills are assessed to be inadequate to properly understand the situation or the instructions they are being given, the person has a Queensland Government interpreter card, or if the person requests an interpreter.

The guidelines explain that friends and family members should be used only in emergency situations when an interpreter is unavailable, and that people below the age of 18 are not to be used as interpreters under any circumstances.

If possible, clients should request interpreters in advance.

client right to interpreter English

Client right to an interpreter in other languages

This information is available in the following languages:


Amharic 日本語Japanese
arabicArabic khmerKhmer
burmeseBurmese Gagana
中文Chinese EspañolSpanish
HRVATSKI Croatian 


دری Dari 


DinkaDinka ไทยThai
FrançaisFrench Tiếng Việt Vietnamese
Last updated: 30 January 2019

What's new?

Queensland Health's 2017-18 report on Our Story, Our Future: Queensland's Multicultural Action Plan 2016-17 - 2018-19
Queensland Health's progress against achieving actions in Queensland's Multicultural Action Plan.

Report on client perceptions of the quality of the Queensland Health Interpreter Service
A new report on the perceptions on clients on the quality of the Queensland Health Interpreter Service is now available.

National Interpreter Symbol

The blue interpreter symbol is the nationally recognised interpreter symbol.

national interpreter symbol

Click here for more information about this symbol.

Complaints about health or other services

Do you have concerns about a government or non-government health service or are you unhappy with the way an issue has been handled? Do you think you have been treated unfairly or are you concerned about a decision or action of a health professional?

It is ok to complain, and there are organisations that are independent of the government that can help you, free of charge.

Go to the Queensland Independent Complaint Agencies' website for more information.