Interpreters needed for migrant workers

The growing number of migrant workers settling in the Waitaki district, speaking a diverse range of languages, including Swahili, are in need of interpretation services, the Waitaki Multicultural Council says.

Following the publication of a brochure containing information about the council about four months ago, inquiries from migrants about services available in the area had increased, migrant support co-ordinator Jojan McLeod, said.

As a result, a list of interpreters was being drawn up to help with issues faced by migrants, she said.

''Some of them are employment issues, some of them can just be a misunderstanding but not necessarily major. Some of them are information about schools, information about sports kids can do in North Otago, so it's a variety of things, really.''

Mrs McLeod said the rise in dairying and overseas workers in the district now meant there were some ''amazing languages'' spoken in Waitaki.

Interpreters for Swahili and a variety of different Filipino dialects were already on board, as well as some of the more common European languages, she said''It can be very helpful, because we already have had French-speaking people in Oamaru Hospital, which can be hard, because the doctors don't have the French, so sometimes it's the more common [languages] that are needed, as well.''

She said about 15 people had volunteered their services as translators.

A final list covering at least 20 languages would eventually be sent to police and other public and social agencies in the Oamaru area.

Anyone with language skills willing to volunteer would be welcome to do so, she said.

It was preferable to take an interpreter to appointments, she said, as sometimes migrants took their children along for language help, which was not always appropriate, because they did not have an understanding of certain issues.


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