Engaging interpreters and translators


Australia is a very multicultural place. Today, over 400 languages are used across Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects, languages from all over the world and sign language.

Language services provide professional interpreting and translation support to make sure all communication is accessible and inclusive for anyone with limited or no English.

Language services engage National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) credentialed:

  • interpreters via the telephone, video remote interpreting (VIR) or on-site
  • Auslan interpreters for written English to ‘sight translation’
  • translators for written information in languages other than English.

A translator makes a written transfer of written information from one language into another language to provide complete and accurate text reflecting the original material.

An interpreter conveys oral or signed messages from one language into another language, including sign language, with a high degree of accuracy, completeness, objectivity and sensitivity to the cultures associated with the languages of expertise.

All government agencies, including Queensland state schools, must engage a NAATI credentialed interpreter when requested or when they become aware that a person has difficulty communicating in English for important conversations and/or meetings.

Engaging an interpreter

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) provides access to the following interpreting services:

To engage an interpreting service through TIS National, Queensland state schools:

  • determine the language or dialect, mode of interpreting (phone, on-site, video remote interpreting) and other considerations
  • follow the booking requirements for each interpreting mode
  • quote the Department of Education's client code C142885.

Immediate phone interpreting

Call the TIS National contact centre on 131 450 to access immediate phone interpreting, available 24 hours every day of the year. It is recommended for short, non-complex assignments or in cases of emergency.

To pre-book a phone interpreter in advance, use the pre-booked telephone interpreting service form.

Automated Telephone Interpreting Service (ATIS)

ATIS is an automated immediate interpreting service available in over 50 languages. Government agencies, including state schools, can use ATIS to access an interpreter in high demand languages without using a TIS National contact centre operator.

ATIS uses voice recognition technology to identify the language requested and automatically connect schools with an interpreter in that language. That helps avoid lengthy call wait times that can occur when calling the TIS National contact centre for an immediate phone interpreter.

To register for ATIS, state schools need to have an account number and an access number (this is different to a TIS National client code). To request an ATIS account number and an access number, complete the ATIS application form or contact the TIS National Service Delivery team for assistance.

For languages not serviced through ATIS, please call the TIS National contact centre on 131 450.

TIS Online (pre-booked services)

TIS Online is an automated booking tool that allows government agencies, including Queensland state schools, and interpreters to request and manage their TIS National pre-booked phone, video remote and on-site interpreter bookings online.

State schools must first be registered as a Department of Education agent in order to login to TIS Online. Contact TIS National’s Client Engagement Team to arrange access. For more information, visit TIS Online for agencies.

Pre-booked phone interpreting

The pre-booked telephone interpreting service is available for government agencies, including Queensland state schools, to book a phone interpreter in advance of an appointment.

Pre-booking your phone interpreter will ensure any special requirements can be catered for and that the best available interpreter can be secured for the time you nominate. Pre-booking an interpreter is recommended when the assignment may be complex, requires specialist knowledge or the availability of interpreters in a particular language is limited.

To pre-book a phone interpreting service, login to the TIS Online automated booking system. A pre-booked phone request should be made at least 48 hours prior to the time and date you require the interpreter. Booking requests can be accepted up to 90 days in advance.

On-site interpreting

TIS National can arrange for an interpreter to visit a school or nominated location. On-site interpreting services can be arranged for any location in Australia (subject to interpreter availability).

The on-site interpreting service is available for state schools to book an interpreter to attend an appointment face-to-face. It is recommended for assignments that are longer and/or more complex, of a serious or sensitive nature, for group meetings and for Auslan users.

To book an on-site interpreting service, login to the TIS Online automated booking system. Booking requests can be accepted up to 90 days in advance.

Video remote interpreting

Video remote interpreting allows government agencies, including Queensland state schools, to connect with an interpreter via a video conferencing platform rather than on-site or via phone. It is used for Auslan or spoken languages and can be booked through the TIS Online automated booking system. Booking requests can be accepted up to 90 days in advance.

Engaging a translator

All written communication should be made accessible for everyone. NAATI credentialed translators, available through a professional language service, can provide quality-assured translations in multiple languages. There is a cost for engaging NAATI credentialed translators.

For more information, please contact Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Inclusion at

Last updated 10 November 2023