At the beginning of 2022, NSW only had one Ukrainian interpreter. In response to the war in Ukraine, Multicultural NSW, in partnership with NAATI, prioritised a group of Ukrainian speakers to become interpreters at the Recognised Practicing Level last year.

Now, there are 21 new Ukrainian interpreters in the Language Services team who are helping fellow Ukrainians who found in NSW a new place to call home.
Yeva is one of them. She arrived in Australia in 2022 and was one of the 2022 NSW Interpreter Scholarship Program recipients. She completed NAATI modules in ethical and intercultural competence, and an Introduction to Interpreting Fundamentals course with UNSW.

Yeva has now signed up to participate in the AUSIT mentoring program as a mentee and is showing excellent initiative in her first steps on the profession. She shares her experience first-hand with us.

My family and I came to Sydney in June 2022 following the outbreak of war in Ukraine. After spending three months in Finland, we decided to move to Sydney because my partner is Australian, and his family lives here. Currently we live in Bondi Junction which is a great place to raise our child.

Back in Finland, I started to look for employment opportunities in Australia and found a call for Ukrainian interpreters from Multicultural NSW. I decided to apply for it for three reasons:

  1. I had worked as an interpreter for a little while back in Ukraine. Although it was not for a long time, I really liked it and hoped I could continue doing it in the future.
  2. I saw this as an opportunity to help my fellow Ukrainians who like me had to flee their country because of war, but who unlike me, did not have the language to properly communicate their needs or a support network of family and friends.
  3. I saw it as an entry point to the Australian job market because having left Ukraine, I also had to quit my job and needed to start my career from scratch.

I was successful in my application and the scholarship offered a short course on Introduction to Interpreting and supported my application to obtain NAATI credentials.

I have already had some interpreting assignments, such as interpreting driver knowledge tests at Service NSW. I wish I could do more interpreting, but because I have a full-time job I can only take on interpreting assignments on my days off or on weekends.

I’m preparing for my first court assignment and looking forward to it. Being properly prepared for the assignments is a key to success. For that reason, upon the recommendation of our lecturers, I went to see some court sessions in local courts in Sydney. It was a very educational and insightful experience. The number of new legal terms seemed overwhelming at the beginning, but then I realised it is quite possible to know most of them.

An interpreter is not required to be a subject matter expert, but it’s important to have a certain level of knowledge in different fields, like medicine or legal matters. Coming from a different country adds up to this complexity. For example, the legal system in Australia is different from the legal system in Ukraine. Some concepts don’t exist in the Ukrainian legal system, but understanding the concepts makes it easier to find a word which makes the most sense.

I see interpreting is a lifetime learning process, and this is the beauty of this profession. You learn every day. And it is not only about the language, but also about cultures, social peculiarities and life stories. There is also the sense that I have somehow helped someone, which is not the case in many other jobs. The situation is not easy for many displaced Ukrainians trying to build a new life in Australia, especially for those who are still learning English. The simple reassurance of having someone next to you, someone who understands, makes such a difference, and this allows me to give something back in my own small way.

In following my career in the language services industry, I am planning to apply for the Ukrainian translator credentials with NAATI. I am also looking into the options for studying translation and interpreting further and hope I will get my conference interpreter certification from NAATI one day.

Page last updated: 6 June 2023 | 4:45 pm