Working with interpreters; a practical workshop bringing some tricky issues into focus

Susan Burdon Smith1, Kim Saxton2, Rowan Hughes3

1Senior Member, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal 

2Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association

3Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)

Using the Judicial Council for Cultural Diversity National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals as a framework, this session will canvass some of the situations which challenge the capacity of Tribunals to provide a fair hearing and access to justice when the language of the Tribunal and the language of the participants is different.

Kim Saxton, from the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association and Rowan Hughes

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) will join Senior Member Burdon-Smith in developing strategies for members hearing matters where interpreters are engaged.

Participants will work their way through a scenario highlighting some of the tricky situations that have been identified by tribunal members prior to the session.


Following appointments as a legal officer in the Victorian Crown Solicitor’s Office and Departments of Corrections and Police and Emergency Services, Sue became a consultant to AusAID on PNG and Solomon Islands Law and Order Projects. At the same time Sue became a sessional member of the Residential Tenancies Small Claims Tribunals – now the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. She continued in that capacity until 2013 when she was appointed a non-sessional member, and in 2015 appointed a Senior Member. Sue is allocated to the Residential Tenancies, Civil Claims, Owners’ Corporation, Guardianship and Human Rights lists. In 2014 Sue was appointed VCAT’s first member for Diversity and Inclusion and sits on the VCAT Diversity Committee. She has been the VCAT representative on the Judicial Council of Cultural Diversity’s working party on Interpreters during the development of the National Standards on Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals.


The COAT is intended to facilitate liaison and discussion between the heads of tribunals. It will support the development of best practice models and model procedural rules, standards of behaviour and conduct for members and increased capacity for training and support for members.