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Telephone interpreting service

Language Line has won permanent funding commitment

Telephone interpreting service offering 35 different languages gets permanent funding

A telephone interpreting service offering 35 different languages is to receive on going funding after a highly successful pilot, Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter and Immigration Minister Paul Swain announced today.

A pilot of Language Line was launched by Chris Carter in April 2003, to aid communication between ethnic New Zealanders and key government agencies, such as the Accident Compensation Corporation, and the Police.

"Language Line was a recognition that 50,000 people in New Zealand speak no English and at least another 250,000 have only limited English," Mr Carter said.

"Many of these people were struggling to access basic government services that the rest of us took for granted, and communication difficulties were creating inefficiencies for government agencies.

"In the nine-months since the Language Line pilot began it has supported over 8,000 interpreting sessions across the six participating agencies," Mr Carter said.

"It is now clear to the government that there is a permanent place for this service and Cabinet has made a commitment to fund it permanently."

Paul Swain said the Office of Ethnic Affairs would receive $1.266 million to support Language Line in the coming year.

"New Zealand is becoming more multicultural by the day. With this comes exciting opportunities, not least the ability to develop long-term trading and cultural relations with a wide range of countries. However, a natural consequence of greater multiculturalism is that some immigrant New Zealanders will not be fully proficient in English," said Mr Swain.

"Even where English language is acceptable for many day-to-day situations there may be times when government agencies need more exact communication, particularly in times of stress, and Language Line offers that opportunity." The service will continue to be available to: Accident Compensation Corporation, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development and New Zealand Immigration Service.

Language Line is free to clients of the above agencies, and the service operates Monday to Friday, 10am until 6pm.

ENDS

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