WA Health system

Language services

Language is an important part of a person’s culture and identity, and all people have a right to express themselves in their preferred language. This is a fundamental human right.

 People who speak limited or no English, or who are Deaf or hard of hearing, have the right to request access to language services when using WA Health services. This includes interpreting services, Auslan and translated health information.

How do I access an interpreter?

You can ask for an interpreter any time you need help when using government services.

Healthcare providers will help you find the right interpreting service for your needs. This can involve accessing an interpreter:

  • in person, face-to-face
  • by telephone
  • through video conferencing.

Look for this symbol in hospitals and health services:

Auslan and interpreter icons

If you find it hard to communicate in English, you can ask for an interpreter card. You can carry it with you and present it to any service provider to let them know that you need an interpreter. Find out more about the interpreter card at the Office of Multicultural Interests website (external site).

If you prefer a family member, carer or friend interprets for you, rather than use a professional interpreter, the hospital or health service will ask you why you made that choice. This is to make sure you are getting the best possible healthcare.

Asking friends or family to interpret for you is not usually recommended, as doctors need to be confident an interpreter can accurately explain medical and complex information.

If you chose to use a qualified interpreter, your family, carer or friend can usually stay with you while you are talking with your doctor and the interpreter.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.