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Free Interpreting Service Access for Medical Practitioners

The Department of Social Services has expanded and simplified patient eligibility requirements for the Free Interpreting Service, delivered by TIS National. Please find updated information below on the service and how to use it, as well as some useful resources for working with patients with low English language proficiency.


click the image above to view PDF

Eligibility and access
Medical Specialists can now access the Free Interpreting Service when providing Medicare-rebateable services in private practice to anyone with a Medicare card. Nursing and practice support staff working with Medical Specialists who are registered with TIS National can also access the service using the same client code.

Accessing the Free Interpreting Service is quick, easy and convenient, especially when using the Doctors Priority Line (DPL) 1300 131 450. The DPL is an immediate telephone interpreting service which provides priority access to TIS National interpreters (a four step guide has been provided in the attached). When using the DPL you will be connected to an interpreter in a major community language in just a few minutes. If you are not already registered for the Free Interpreting Service you or your practice support staff can register here.

Why use an interpreter
In 2016-17, over 8,500 Medical Practitioners around Australia used the 24 hour Free Interpreting Service to deliver medical services to people with limited or no spoken English. Professional interpreters, speaking more than 165 languages, can increase mutual understanding and save you time. Working with professional interpreters to increase the accuracy of communication is important for Medical Practitioners as well as patients. It helps to protect you from professional risk and is particularly important when you are:

  • seeking informed consent
  • dealing with patients in a crisis
  • dealing with complexity
  • assessing patient competence.

The PDF above also contains a research summary from the Australian National University which highlights some critical incidents and harm resulting from the failure to use professional interpreters.

More information
If you have any questions about the Free Interpreting Service please contact TIS National on 1300 575 847 or tis.lpl@border.gov.au