Free Interpreting Service for allied health professionals

From 24 October 2022, some privately employed allied health professionals will have access to the Australian Government’s Free Interpreting Services (FIS). The FIS aims to provide equitable access to key services for people with limited or no English language proficiency. The service is delivered by the Department of Home Affairs’ Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on behalf of the Australian Government.

Access to the FIS will be available to eligible private sector allied health professionals providing services in the following Local Government Areas (LGAs), based on areas of low English proficiency:

Jurisdiction
LGA
ACT
Canberra
NSW
Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown, Albury, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong
NT
Darwin
Qld.
Brisbane, Logan, Cairns, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville
SA
Adelaide, Mount Gambier
Tas. Launceston, Hobart
Vic. Casey, Greater Dandenong, Hume, Wyndham, Brimbank, Melton, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton, Mildura, Wodonga
WA
Perth

What if I’m not located in a listed LGA?

The expansion of the FIS to include allied health professionals is a pilot program limited to 32 LGAs.

Allied health professionals unsure about LGA eligibility should email tis.freeinterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au 

Allied health professionals ineligible for access to the FIS can still access interpreting on a fee-paying basis by completing TIS National's client registration form.

Allied health professionals that are registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can open an NDIS-funded account with TIS National to support NDIS participants. Please contact the TIS Client Liaison team on 1300 655 820 or tispromo@homeaffairs.gov.au for further details.

Why should allied health professionals engage interpreters?

Australia has a rich cultural diversity. The 2021 census revealed that Australians were born in almost 200 different countries and speak more than 350 languages.

Allied health professionals should engage credentialed interpreters to communicate complex or technical information to patients with limited or no English language proficiency. This can help to ensure accuracy of communication, reduce confusion, save time, encourage continuation of care, and protect providers from professional risk. It is particularly important when:

  • seeking informed consent
  • dealing with patients in a crisis
  • dealing with complexity
  • assessing patient competence.

Language services available to allied health care professionals 

Private allied health professionals can use the FIS to access interpreting services delivered by TIS National, including:

  • immediate telephone interpreting
  • pre-booked telephone interpreting
  • on-site interpreting
  • video remote interpreting.

Immediate telephone interpreting is most useful for unplanned interactions. It provides:

  • access to more than 2700 interpreters in more than 150 different languages
  • interpreting services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • connection to an interpreter within a few minutes of calling.

Pre-booked telephone interpreting is useful for planned appointments, or if you need to request a less common language. The minimum booking time is 30 minutes for a pre-booked telephone interpreter.

When telephone interpreting is not suitable, TIS National can arrange an interpreter to arrive on-site for a face-to-face appointment. This may be important when the consultation is particularly complicated or is sensitive in nature. For example, where a provider needs to give complex or technical instructions or rely heavily on non-verbal cues. On-site assignments must be booked for a minimum of 90 minutes.

You may also wish to use on-site interpreting if you have several patients who need the same language interpreter and are able to schedule these so that one interpreter can attend for several back-to-back appointments. 

As an alternative to on-site interpreting, TIS National offers video remote interpreting. Video remote interpreting complements TIS National’s existing on-site and telephone interpreting services. It provides agencies with added flexibility when booking interpreters for engagements with non-English speaking clients. 

A video remote interpreter may be most appropriate when:

  • you have a scheduled appointment with a patient
  • an interpreter is not available in your location to perform an on-site booking
  • the meeting participants are located at different sites
  • you anticipate that the appointment will go for an extended period of time.

A wide range of video conferencing platforms are supported, including Healthdirect Video Call, Skype, WebEx and Zoom.

Video remote interpreting services must be booked for a minimum of 30 minutes.

For more information, read Frequently Asked Questions for agencies and log in to TIS Online for our Pre-booked telephone, video remote and on-site interpreting guide for agencies.

Eligibility

Under the FIS, eligible private sector allied health professionals in the following disciplines can access free interpreting: art therapists, audiologists, audiometrists, chiropractors, Chinese medicine practitioners, dieticians, exercise physiologists, genetic counsellors, music therapists, medical radiation practitioners, optometrists, orthoptists, orthotists/prosthetists, occupational therapists, osteopaths, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, registered counsellors (levels 3 and 4), rehabilitation counsellors, social workers, sonographers and speech pathologists. 

Queries about eligibility should be emailed to tis.freeinterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au 

When registering for the service, TIS National will need to check that you are qualified in one of the above professions. For example, for nationally regulated professionals, you will need to provide your AHPRA membership number. For self-regulated professions, TIS National will check that you have the appropriate registration with the relevant professional association.  

Eligible private sector allied health professionals can access the FIS when delivering services that are:

  • delivered in private practice
  • delivered by a suitably qualified professional
  • provided to a patient or client who has a Medicare card.

The Free Interpreting Service can be used for delivering health services, including but not limited to:

  • arranging appointment times
  • undertaking health consultations
  • providing therapy
  • developing health plans.

The Free Interpreting Service cannot be used for:

  • patients who do not hold a Medicare card
  • state-funded public health services, such as services provided in hospitals.

Register for a client code

Each allied health professional will need a unique client code to access the service. To apply for a client code, complete the online application form. 

If you require assistance with registering, contact TIS National’s Free Interpreting Service on 1300 575 847 or email tis.freeinterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au

How to access the Free Interpreting Service

Immediate telephone interpreting

  1. Have ready your client code, requested language and preferred gender of the interpreter (if required). If you don’t have a client code, please contact TIS National’s Free Interpreting Service team on 1300 575 847 or tis.freeinterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au.
  2. Call TIS National on 131 450.
  3. Provide the operator with the language and gender (if specified) of the interpreter that you need. 
  4. Provide your client code and the name of the allied health professional to the operator. 

ATIS 

To use the automated, voice prompted, immediate telephone interpreting service (ATIS), you need to have both an account and access number (these are different to a TIS National client code). Your ATIS details will be provided to you when you first set up your client code.

Once you have both your ATIS account and access numbers, to connect with an interpreter through ATIS:

  1. Call 1800 131 450
  2. When prompted, say the name of the language you need
  3. Use the keypad to select the gender of your interpreter
  4. Enter your six-digit ATIS account number and then your four-digit ATIS access number 
  5. ATIS will then connect you with an interpreter
  6. Write down the job number provided for future reference. 

If you call ATIS and request a language that is not covered, or no interpreters are available, you will be automatically redirected to TIS National’s Contact Centre. You should have your client code on hand in case of this event. An operator will then manually complete your request.

Pre-booked telephone, on-site and video remote interpreting

You can easily request and manage all of your pre-booked telephone, on-site and video remote interpreter bookings through TIS Online. All agencies registered with a TIS National client code are automatically registered to use TIS Online. To create a client code, complete TIS National's online application form

More information

TIS National
131 450
24 hours a day, every day of the year

Download the PDF version of the Free Interpreting Service - allied health professionals information sheet

Download the DOC version of the Free Interpreting Service - allied health professionals information sheet