Just a few days ago, I returned from the New Zealand Society for Translators and Interpreters’ annual conference. It was my first conference dedicated specifically to translation and interpreting, and I definitely learned a lot. The NZSTI Conference 2015 took place in Wellington, New Zealand this year and featured many different presentations on both translation and interpreting. Although I must admitted I mainly attended the presentations on interpreting, I also popped upstairs occasionally for talks on translation.

The Truth About Rates: Because You’re Worth It!

One talk on translation that I attended was from newly-elected NZSTI President Karl A. Wilson on the subject of rates. His talk, entitled “The Truth About Rates: Because You’re Worth It!”, discussed the various ways translators (and interpreters too!) can determine rates that work for them. Although Karl didn’t provide any hard figures, he encouraged everyone in the room to determine rates based on their actual costs and the time that goes into their work. Another important point raised by Karl was the idea that we are the market, so talking about market rates is, to a certain extent, a futile debate. While I’m not sure I agree 100% with the last point, he made a good point about needing to set rates based on the costs we incur and what we are really worth. I’m still not sure that setting rates to three or even four times that of market prices is really a viable strategy unless we offer something really special to our clients, but I’m certainly curious about trying to implement such strategies!

Under Pressure: Methods for coping with conflict as an interpreter

Yet another talk that particularly stuck out to me was delivered by Robyn Pask, CEO of Interpreting New Zealand. She discussed the perils of vicarious traumatisation, burnout and stress in the interpreting profession. The talk was largely based on a recently published paper that she co-authored along with Crezee, Atkinson, Au and Wong. The paper, published in the International Journal for Interpreter Education, is titled “Teaching Interpreters About Self-Care” and discusses a variety of methods interpreters can use to deal with the stress they encounter while working. While Robyn’s presentation was really great, the time constraints made it so that she could not go into too much detail. Luckily, the article goes into a lot more detail about different coping strategies and is incredibly helpful, particularly when it comes to advocating for the inclusion of self-care into interpreter education programs. I’m happy to say that Monash University has developed a professional development course on precisely that topic (see here: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/translation-interpreting/professional-strategies-and-stress-management-for-interpreters/). Unfortunately, it’s too late to sign up for this session, but I suggest keeping your eyes open as the course is sure to be run again in the near future. Vicarious traumatisation of interpreters is becoming increasingly important in our profession, and the NZSTI Conference this year highlighted that.

Family violence and the role of the interpreter: Developing and implementing ethical guidelines for interpreters

I should mention that I gave a presentation at the NZSTI Conference this year as well. My presentation focussed on interpreting in family violence scenarios. Although my research is still ongoing, I presented some preliminary ideas about how to deal with the ethical considerations of interpreting for victims of family violence. While I admit there are likely to be challenges in interpreting for perpetrators as well, I didn’t quite have enough time to talk about both at the NZSTI Conference, so I focussed on interpreting for victims. Among the challenges I mentioned, all based on research in family violence and interpersonal conflict, were the necessity of confidentiality and anonymity. Victims are far less likely to disclose when they’re not absolutely sure of their disclosure being 100% confidential. Even though the vast majority of interpreters respect the ethical obligation to keep information confidential, such situations (all situations, to be honest) show that restating the role of interpreter before such encounters—and particularly the confidentiality ensured by interpreters—is paramount. Another suggestion I made in my presentation was the possibility of using telephone interpreting in such scenarios in order to be able to ensure anonymity of victims. Although telephone interpreting is not ideal for many reasons, I would argue that the benefits for victims of family violence could outweigh the potential downsides, particularly when it comes to smaller languages or languages of newly-arrived immigrants where it might be more difficult to ensure that the interpreters are well-versed in the necessity of maintaining confidentiality or where the communities are so small that victims fear word will somehow come out. These are just a few of the ideas I mentioned during my talk at the NZSTI Conference, but I hope to publish a much more detailed article on the topic soon.


All in all, the NZSTI Conference 2015 was a resounding success. I learned a lot from my colleagues across the Tasman Sea, and I can’t wait to implement all of the new things I’ve learned in my own practice. I’m looking forward to next year’s NZSTI Conference!

Did you attend the NZSTI Conference this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the conference, on my presentation or any other presentations you attended in the comments section!


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