It has been revealed that the Department of Home Affairs used Google Translate for its COVID-19 website when bureaucrats decided not to engage official translators to do the translation (into various languages) for the website health.gov.au until later.
The decision by the Department of Home Affairs has been revealed in documents obtained by the ABC that show official translators were initially sidelined.
And unsurprisingly, the Opposition is going hammer and tong on the offensive.
“The Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge has been caught out using Google Translate on important public health information on COVID-19”, Andrew Giles, Labor’s shadow minister for multicultural affairs said in a media release.
The Department of Home Affairs has admitted that they use Google Translate service to translate menu and navigation tiles on the COVID19 in-language website.
“Alan Tudge has been talking about the challenges people with limited English face, at the same time his own Department is using the notoriously unreliable Google translate service to translate vital public health information”, Mr Giles added.
“It isn’t hard to listen to the voices that make up modern multicultural Australia.”
“It isn’t hard to make sure that every Australian gets the information they need to keep themselves and the community safe.”
The media release highlighted a tweet posted on 28th July 2020 from the Federal Government Twitter account telling Chinese speakers where to look for more details about the pandemic and the erroneous text instead translated to: “Use your language supplied information.”
The irony is, when Bharat Times accessed the Federal Government’s COVId-19 website today, the errors were found to be there in Hindi translation– even months later. See the highlighted parts below:
All Australians need access to accurate and clear public health information translation particularly for the culturally and linguistically diverse communities who have made Australia their home.
The federal government stopped running advertorial (language specific translation) information in the ethnic media months ago while it continues to add translations to their website thinking it to be appropriately sufficient. It is clearly ill advised policy by people who do not have handle on how and where multicultural communities seek information.
It may be translation Robodebt”, if anyone was interested to examine things ab initio. No we do not want another inquiry or Royal Commission as we, as the tax payer will have to foot the bill. Wi8th COVID-19 virus under control, it is water under the bridge and a matter for historians.
Both the government and Labor need to do a lot more to engage with multicultural media than do ‘Mickey Mouse 10 minute webinars’ and tick the box of job done.