Interpreters in Western Australia have made history!

At the end of March, Professionals Australia applied to WorkSafe to investigate the Western Australian Department of Health for exposing members to ongoing psychosocial harm in the workplace. In summary, TIA WA claimed the Department of Health has failed to protect members from the hazards of both insecure work and trauma.

Language professionals have been dealing with a “first in, whoever gets” job allocation systems, insufficient compensation for cancellations, a lack of PPE, no briefing or debriefing on jobs and no training for complex medical matters, such as voluntary assisted dying.

WorkSafe is the regulator under the Western Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2020. By law, WorkSafe must investigate and make a decision about whether the Act has been breached, within 48 hours of receiving an application.

Last Wednesday, WorkSafe applied to the WHS Tribunal to extend the term of its investigation to six months. Professionals Australia appeared in the Tribunal as respondent, to argue for a shorter, sharper work plan, with WA Branch Committee members turning out in force to stand witness.

WorkSafe said it may also have to investigate other government departments, including Justice and Child Protection.

Professionals Australia said that one interpreter is leaving the industry every week, and every day the investigation is delayed is another day interpreters are caused mental and emotional distress.

The Commissioner ordered WorkSafe to fast track its investigation and to report back with findings and recommendations in four months’ time - by 15 August. The WA Commissioner asked questions of Professionals Australia to confirm that any finding of breach of the WHS Act in WA will impact interpreters all across Australia. This action by the WA Branch is ground-breaking news for members and the T&I sector. Government agencies will be pushed to rethink the way they employ interpreters.

Government agencies and language service providers will be pushed to critically reflect and act on their responsibility for improving your working life.

Translators and interpreters nationally are invited to join the Professionals Australia briefing on Thursday 2nd May from 17:00 AWST (19:00 AEST) to find out how you can tell your story, in confidence, with the support and protection of your union.

Registration here

If you do remote work for Western Australian government agencies, particularly in health, the WA Branch Committee also invites you to give input to the Worksafe inspector.

Learn more about psychosocial harm; what it is, what causes it, and what it feels like here. If you are not yet a member, now is the time to make sure you are part of the union that protects your interests!

Join today!