Who we are
The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is an interpreting service provided by the Department of Home Affairs for people with limited English language proficiency and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients. TIS National has:
more than 75 years' experience in language services
access to more than 2700 interpreters in more than 150 languages.
immediate phone interpreting
Automated Telephone Interpreting Service (ATIS)
pre-booked phone interpreting
video remote interpreting
TIS National services are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
TIS National’s Mission
As part of the Department of Home Affairs, TIS National supports the key objectives and purpose of the Department.
Our mission statement outlines the specific objectives and aims of TIS National as a service of the Department.
TIS National’s mission is to connect government, business and communities by providing credentialed, cost-effective and secure language services.
History of TIS National
TIS National and the Department of Home Affairs have a long history of providing language services in Australia.
Commonwealth translating services began in 1947 as a result of the post-World War II migration program. As new migrants settled in Australia the need for language services emerged. In response, the Red Cross and the Commonwealth government began performing translation functions.
In December 1958, the Department of Home Affairs (known then as the Department of Immigration) took on multilingual service delivery on behalf of the Australian Government. These services have continued to evolve to support multicultural access and equity.
Important dates for TIS National
The Commonwealth translating service began.
The Department of Immigration assumed responsibility for translation services and migrants employed by the Department provided limited interpreting.
The Department established the first free Emergency Telephone Interpreting Service to assist non-English speakers. A total of 11, 349 interpreting calls were received in the first year. This was the beginning of the immediate phone service offered today.
More than 230,000 services were being delivered annually by the Telephone Interpreting Service (TIS), and the Department employed 65 interpreters and 43 translators.
The translating and interpreting functions were integrated under the title Translating and Interpreting Service, retaining the well-established acronym, TIS.
The first TIS computer system came into operation and a year later, the single national 131 450 public phone number was introduced for ease of access across Australia.
TIS was consolidated from nine locations around Australia to three operational sites in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Interpreting services were centralised into one new TIS National Centre in Melbourne.
TIS National launched the self-service interpreter booking tool, TIS Online, which transformed on-site interpreting service capability. Bookings could be assigned to interpreters within hours, where previously it could take up to 21 days to manually allocate an interpreter.
TIS National launched a video remote interpreting service. Initially offered as a pilot program, this service supported healthcare providers to access interpreting throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
TIS National integrated pre-booked phone and video remote interpreting services into the TIS Online booking tool. This enhancement enabled agencies and interpreters to self-manage all of their bookings using the automated system.
TIS National celebrates the 50th anniversary of establishing the world’s first telephone interpreting service. TIS National now delivers more than one million immediate phone services each year.