On 23rd December 1901, Australia’s Immigration Restriction Act was introduced. It was one of the first pieces of registration that was passed by the new federal parliament. The purpose of this was to limit immigration to Australia from countries other than Britain, which, at the time was predominantly white. The law meant that non-white people who had settled in Australia before the Act came into power could be legally deported.
Immigration from people outside Britain was fuelled by the Australian gold rush of 1848 which lasted until 1855. Australia saw several gold rushes in its different states. The Immigration Restriction Act could not affect the indigenous people of Australia the first Australians, but the implications of a White Australia policy were clearly seen. White Australians saw the indigenous peoples as an inferior race and thought, or hoped, perhaps, that they were dying out.
By 1947 Australia’s Asian population was mainly white, and its people of Asian descent, who had supplied cheap labour, were dwindling in numbers. It took 25 years for Australia to abolish its White Australia policy and it finally ended in 1973. Now the ethnic picture of Australia has changed dramatically. By the time of the 2016 Census, Australia had a more ethnically diverse population than it had ever had. Of course, it is early days yet to have a complete analysis of the Census figures for 2016. However, the release of the first set of data was in April 2017, and this focussed on data supplied by the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.
Languages used in Australia
In the past, especially when Australia had its White Australian policy in place, the only language used for the Census was English. Using the data from the 2011 Census, the Australian Bureau for Statistics recognised the need for its materials to be translated into a variety of languages. The Bureau joined forces with the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) so that more people had access to information. Currently, its materials are in Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Assyrian, Dari, Farsi, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Maltese, Mandarin, Nepalese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and Burmese. These languages that are now spoken in Australia are evidence that the country has become more ethnically diverse than ever before.
What this means to translators and interpreters
When there is linguistic diversity in any country, there is a need for translators and interpreters. Apart from the languages listed above, interpreters are often required to communicate with the First Australians and Torres Strait Islanders who are not sufficiently proficient in English to understand the English used in Australia’s courts, hospitals and other institutions. These indigenous peoples account for 3% of the population, an increase from the 2.7% identified in the 2011 Census. This means that the number of First Australians and/or Torres Strait Islanders has grown from 550,000 in 2011, to 649,000 in 2016.
Assistance for the deaf and others
Of course, the deaf also need interpreters although they might be white Australians. They also have a right to legal representation, interpretation services and, if necessary, translation services.
One of the important questions asked in the 2016 Census regards the number of people who have a “core activity need for assistance.” The numbers rose in the 19 and under age group from 2.1% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2016. These figures show that there are an additional 38,209 young people with a core activity need for assistance.
Immigration after the 2011 Census
The Census figures for 2016 reveal that 1.3 million people have moved to Australia since 2011. Some 163,000 have arrived from India and a further 191,000 emigrated from China. Excluding those people who have left Australia in the last five years, the number of people who were born overseas and are currently living in Australia increased by 870,000, an increase of almost 2 %. In the latter half of the 20th century Italians and Greeks were the main Australian immigrants. In the 21st century it is Asian immigrants that have overtaken European ones. These new immigrants come mainly from India and China. They are typically younger than European immigrants. This means that Asians who are Australian citizens have an average age of 35, while those born in Europe have an average age of 59.
Professional and certified interpreters and translators are in high demand in Australian society. Certification is an acknowledgement that an individual has demonstrated the ability to meet the professional standards required by the translation and interpreting industry in Australia.
To find out how to become certified contact the National Accreditation Authority of Translators and Interpreters. (NAATI). NAATI assesses translation and interpreting professionals against these standards so that English and non-English speakers can interact effectively with each other.
Translationz’ interpreters and translators are NAATI certified. We offer our services in medical, legal, business settings and for private sessions. For a free quote on services call us or click on this link for a free quote.
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