Helping customers from diverse backgrounds

Welcome to a regular column with Human Services General Manager, Hank Jongen. Here you can find out important information about the Australian Federal Government Department of Human Services, which includes Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support.

Helping customers from diverse backgrounds

International Mother Languages Day on February 21 is a great time for customers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to check out the extensive range of services available to them.

The Department of Human Services provides quality multicultural services to around 5 million customers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

We have over 770 bilingual, 70 multicultural and 98 Indigenous Service officers who provide cultural and language support to customers, free of charge.

Our Multicultural Service Officers help migrants and refugees access appropriate Government programs, services and support.

The department provides free interpreting services in over 235 languages including Tagalog through almost 3000 contracted interpreters.

Last year we provided over 3500 hours per week of rostered interpreter services in service centres where demand is high,  answered over 104 000 ‘on demand’ phone interpreter requests and translated 3 385 personal documents for customers’ business with us.

Over 32 000 customers used the Department of Immigration’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) to speak to Child Support, Centrelink and Medicare.

Customers can also call our multilingual call centre – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere – on 13 1202 to discuss Centrelink business in their own language.

Latest ABS statistics show almost one in five Australians speak a language other than English as their first language and over 400 languages are spoken in Australia.

I encourage everyone to embrace others regardless of their background and celebrate the diverse languages and cultures that make Australia such a great place to live.

To speak to the Department of Human Services in languages other than English, call the multilingual call centre on 13 1202 for Centrelink services and payments, or call 13 2011 for Medicare or 13 1272 for Child support services and ask for an interpreter. For information on our multilingual support services and products, or information in languages other than English, including Tagalog, visit humanservices.gov.au.

Until next time,
Hank Jongen
Human Services Portfolio General Manager


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