Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 39

38 with other service providers who did not have a budget for interpreters or who did have access to 36 interpreters but did not necessarily use them as part of their usual practice. ‘Mainstream agencies often don’t use or don’t have access to interpreters and this is a problem. This is the first point of contact for most women & it is therefore crucial that she is able to communicate. Given how difficult it is to make the decision to seek help, the way in which first contact occurs will influence whether the woman goes on to access further services.’ One worker used the example of a female client who described a situation in which a neighbour had called the police after a string of physical assaults by her husband. When the police arrived they spoke to the woman’s husband, who spoke fluent English, but did not interview the woman separately nor offer an interpreter. As the police car drove away the woman described feeling trapped and utterly helpless and ‘…dropped to her knees in despair’. The quality and neutrality of interpreters was also said to be variable which can affect women’s access to services. Most service providers cited instances in which they had been aware that the interpreter was not simply translating but also giving the woman additional information or advice, against their professional code of ethics. While they have oral competency in their first and additional languages, many CALD women who are not proficient in English are often also not literate in their own language and many require greater assistance and time from service providers. For example, a worker may need sit down with the woman and go through forms with a telephone interpreter before assisting her to fill them out (either because she cannot comprehend written English or she is not familiar with using forms and interacting with written materials) or they may need to liaise with other services assisting the woman, such as legal services, because the woman has received either written or telephone advice in English that she doesn’t understand. Service providers who run group work sessions, either for women or Men’s Behaviour Change groups, stated that the language barrier can also present a challenge when attempting to accommodate CALD people in group work programs delivered in English. For example, workers who were involved with Men’s Behaviour Change groups noted that introducing an interpreter into this type of group can prove difficult because men in the group are often already difficult to engage and having an interpreter present can alter the group dynamic. If there are men present from more than one language group then it simply may not be possible to accommodate these men within the group even using interpreters. Providing one on one counselling sessions is one way to accommodate CALD men however using this approach means that CALD men miss out on the benefits of the group 37 context. Practical Obstacles Service providers agreed that whilst all women leaving a family violence situation face significant disruption to their lives and practical difficulties such as accessing housing and financial support, for CALD women these difficulties are magnified. 36 General Practitioners were used as an example a number of times. It was observed in a 2010 article in the Australian Family Physician that although interpreter services are highly accessible for Australian doctors in comparison with other countries their services remain ‘…underused, and frequently misunderstood, by GPs,’ Phillips, C., Australian Family Physician, v.39, no.4, April 2010. 37 Also refer to discussion at p.41 ‘Engaging with CALD Communities’.