Stella Alves Da Motta
Stella started interpreting by chance. Her first career was as a teacher in her birth country Brazil and when she arrived in Australia she did some relief teaching. It was then that a friend approached her for some assistance interpreting for a psychology appointment and she has now been interpreting in Portuguese for 23 years.
The code of ethics is an important tool
Stella says ‘you need to be tough to be an interpreter, it’s a tough profession’. Her greatest challenge while working as an interpreter is not to get involved in the situation. ‘We’ve got a heart and we come across a lot of sad situations’. Her tool to overcome this challenge is to stick very strictly to the code of ethics for interpreters, which was developed by the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT). ‘It’s very important and it’s there for a very good reason. It’s to protect us. I feel if I do exactly as it says in the code of ethics I kind of protect myself and can stay separated’ she said.
The rewards of interpreting
Stella feels rewarded knowing she is helping people. ‘I know that although I am not involved, I am helping because it’s very frustrating when you can’t communicate, when you can’t say what’s going on. To help in this process of communication is very rewarding for me’ she said.
Giving back to the community
While interpreting is her paid profession, Stella has a lifetime of giving back to the community working for a variety of organisations voluntarily. Most recently she was involved in the start of up of RIAM, a referral information service for Portuguese speaking women. RIAM is under the umbrella of ABRISA, the Brazilian association in Melbourne which assists women to access information like how to apply for a Medicare card or access family violence services. She is also part of the CCBV, The Council for Brazilians Citizens in Victoria, under the foreign ministry of Brazil. In this role she is supporting Brazilians that come to Victoria.
Future of interpreting
Stella sees the wave of bringing interpreting to a more professional level and sees the influence of Professionals Australia as a positive thing for interpreters and translators. ‘We work independently, it’s very lonely. If interpreters don’t have something to group them together they can get lost’ she said.
Stella's tips for future and current interpreters
Stella recommends the following tips for people thinking about becoming an interpreter or for other interpreters. ‘You have to read the paper and watch the news every day to be up to date on the affairs of the countries that you will be interpreting for. Also, try to visit places where interpreting is done. That is, in courts, hospitals and government departments’. She also said ‘if you’ve got your heart and your mind set and you like helping people and dealing with people all the time, it’s a very rewarding profession’.