Transcultural & Language Services (TALS)

For Patients and Visitors

What is the Service?

If you or your family finds it hard to communicate in English or use AUSLAN it is your right to request an interpreter. Interpreter services are free of charge to eligible patients.

It is important to have an interpreter particularly when:

  • You or your family would find it easier to speak in your own language
  • You do not understand everything we are saying to you
  • You do not fully understand anything you are required to sign
  • You are unable to read or understand information provided to you

Please note:

  • Northern Health professional interpreters are required by their Code of Ethics to provide independent, unbiased, confidential, complete and accurate interpreting for both parties
  • It is against policy to use family or friends to interpret
  • A professional interpreter must be present at the time of consent
  • It is against Government policy for anyone under 18 years old to act as an interpreter, unless in an emergency
  • If you cannot make your appointment you will need to let us know, especially when an interpreter has been booked

If you need an interpreter, please speak to a staff member, or call us via TIS on 131 450


For Health Professionals

Service Overview

The role of the Transcultural & Language Services Department (TALS) is to make Northern Health culturally competent by offering high quality language services comprising:

Professional interpreting
Translation of medical material
Transcultural training
Research & Education opportunities

TALS is also responsible for the development and implementation of the Northern Health Cultural Responsiveness Plan

TALS @ a glance

  • 40 in-house interpreters: Arabic, Turkish, Italian, Greek, Assyrian & Chaldean, Macedonian, Vietnamese, Mandarin & Cantonese, Farsi, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Dari, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
  • 70, 000+ occasions of service every year in over 100 languages
  • 90+ transcultural training sessions per year
  • TALS manages a translations database with hundreds of medical documents translated in the top 10 languages.
  • TALS has a number of community partners via the Northern Health Cultural & Staff Diversity Committee; these include: Monash University, RMIT, the Centre for Ethnicity & Health, Women’s Health in the North, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, and the Cancer Council
  • TALS is involved in a number of internal and external research projects.
  • Monash and RMIT language students complete their practicum with TALS.

Booking an Interpreter (Including Auslan: Australian Sign Language)

Clinics Using iPM

Clinics using iPM will tick the relevant interpreter box in the system once it has been ascertained that the patient requires an interpreter. No further action is required.

All Other Clinics and Wards

All other clinics and wards will book an interpreter using IMS (Interpreter Management System). Training will be provided by the Transcultural & Language Services (TALS) department.

After Hours

After Hours: Use telephone interpreting by contacting On Call Language Services on 8807 2300.

In Emergency Department

In hours: Contact the Interpreters’ Office on 84058188. If in-house is not available, TALS will advise to use telephone interpreting and connect you with an agency service (if required).

After Hours: Use telephone interpreting by contacting On Call Language Services on 8807 2300.

Deaf Patients: Contact the Interpreters’ Office on 84058188. Afterhours: as per telephone interpreting.

Emergencies and urgent situations-if a staff or family member are used.

If a staff or family member is used in an emergency or urgent situation, the name of this person MUST be recorded in the patient’s history and the reason for not accessing an accredited interpreter clearly stated.

As soon as practicable staff should still endeavor to book the services of a professional interpreter.