Free Interpreting Service

The Department of Social Services’ Free Interpreting Service aims to provide equitable access to key services (that are not government funded). The Free Interpreting Service is delivered by the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National).

Eligibility criteria for the Free Interpreting Service

Private medical practitioners and pharmacies are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service to assist in communicating with non‑English speakers who have a Medicare card.

  • Private medical practitioners (defined as General Practitioners and approved Medical Specialists) can access the Free Interpreting Service when providing Medicare-rebateable services. Nurses, reception or other practice support staff can also access the Free Interpreting Service when working under the guidance of the registered Medical Practitioner.
    For a list of approved Medical Specialists see: Medical Board of Australia-Medical Specialties and Specialty Fields
  • Pharmacies are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service for the purpose of dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications.

The following groups are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service to assist in communicating with Australian citizens and permanent residents who do not speak English:

  • incorporated, not-for-profit, non-government, community-based organisations for approved casework and emergency services where the organisation does not receive substantial government funding to provide these services
    Note: Organisations that require language services (such as interpreting) and receive substantial government funding should incorporate the cost of these services into their application for funding
  • licensed real estate agencies to discuss any private residential property matter (such as management of residential tenancies).
  • local government authorities to provide advice on issues such as rates, garbage collection and urban services
  • trade unions to respond to members' enquiries or requests
  • Members of Parliament for constituency purposes

Registering for the Free Interpreting Service

Eligible medical practitioners, pharmacies, licensed real estate agencies, local government authorities, trade unions and Members of Parliament complete the online ‘register for a TIS National client code ’ form on the TIS National website. 

Non-government organisations providing approved casework or emergency services apply for the Free Interpreting Service by completing the NGO application form on the TIS National website. To be eligible, NGO’s must be providing approved services or programs that are not substantially government funded.  

Further information on the Free Interpreting Service NGO category is available.

Doctors Priority Line

The Doctors Priority Line gives eligible doctors priority access to TIS National phone interpreters.

General Practitioners and approved Medical Specialists can use the Doctors Priority Line when providing services that are:

  • Medicare-rebateable;
  • delivered in private practice; and
  • provided to non-English speakers who have a Medicare card.

Nurses, reception or other practice support staff can also access the Doctors Priority Line when working under the guidance of the registered Medical Practitioner.

Doctors who meet the above criteria and are not currently registered for the Free Interpreting Service can arrange access to the service by completing the online 'register for a TIS National client code' form available on the TIS National website.

Email: tis.lpl@border.gov.au
Phone: 1300 575 847

Phone interpreting service for pharmacies

Free phone interpreting services are available to pharmacies for the purpose of dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications. This scheme is aimed at assisting pharmacists to communicate with non-English speakers who have a Medicare card about the proper use of medications.

Pharmacies can register for free phone interpreting services by completing an online 'register for a TIS National client code' form available on TIS National’s website.

Phone interpreting service for Real Estate Agencies

Free phone interpreting services are available to licensed real estate agencies to assist them communicate with non-English speaking permanent residents and Australian citizens about any private residential property matter (rental or sales).

Further information on the Free Interpreting Service real estate agencies category is available.

Terms and conditions apply to NGOs receiving Free Interpreting Services from 1 August 2013

Consolidated terms and conditions apply to all organisations that have access to the Free Interpreting Service under the NGO category (both new and existing organisations). The defined terms and conditions will make it easier for NGOs to understand their rights and responsibilities when accessing the Free Interpreting Service.

Clauses 4 and 11 of the terms and conditions apply immediately to new Free Interpreting Service access codes issued under the NGO category on or after 1 August 2013. For all existing Free Interpreting Service access code holders, clauses 4 and 11 will only apply after the code has been reviewed and access is renewed.

The terms and conditions are available on the TIS National website.

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