Ethics training scholarship helps in-demand interpreters build their skills

All Graduates
All Graduates | 3 Sep 2021

A solid understanding of the ethical principals outlined in the AUSIT Code of Ethics is critical to working as a translator or interpreter in Australia. However, this can be a challenge for practitioners working in new, emerging or rare languages that are not currently represented in formal tertiary-level training.

To help bridge the gap, the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), in partnership with All Graduates’ training arm Conversations, is offering a scholarship to enable translators and interpreters to complete an ethics training course online.

The Ethics and Professionalism for Interpreters and Translators Course aims to develop practitioners’ knowledge and application of the AUSIT Code of Ethics in their translating and interpreting assignments, and improve their knowledge of the ethical requirements for translators and interpreters in Australia.

The scholarship aims to provide opportunities to the significant number of practitioners in Victoria who have not had the opportunity to complete formal training. A total of 100 scholarships are available, with priority given to applicants working in 33 priority languages. These priority languages, which were identified by NAATI and All Graduates in consultation with the DFFH, are:

  • Burmese
  • Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
  • Chin (Matu)
  • Dinka
  • Falam Chin
  • Gujarati
  • Hakha Chin
  • Hakka Chinese
  • Hazaragi
  • Hokkien
  • Kiswahili
  • Kurdish
  • Malayalam
  • Mizo Chin
  • Nepalese
  • Nuer
  • Oromo
  • Pashto
  • Sgaw Karen
  • Shanghainese
  • Sudanese Arabic
  • Tedim Chin
  • Telugu
  • Teo Chew
  • Tetum
  • Tibetan
  • Tigrinya
  • Timorese Hakka
  • Tongan
  • Zo (alternate name Zomi)

NAATI Recognised Practicing Interpreters and Translators, Certified Provisional Interpreters and unaccredited practitioners are all welcome to apply. This scholarship is only available to Victorian based Interpreters and Translators.

Limited positions are available. Applications will be closed once all scholarships places are filled.

To apply, fill in the online form by clicking on the link below.

Click here to apply 


All Graduates
All Graduates | 8 Apr 2019

Understanding CALD Meaning: Enhancing Operational Efficiency in Engagements with Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

As Australia’s population continues to grow, we welcome migrants from all corners of the globe, contributing to our vibrant and diverse society. This multicultural growth, while enriching, introduces complexities to the operations of both public and private sectors, particularly in engaging with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. This article explores the meaning of CALD, its implications for operational efficiency, and how the innovative solutions developed by All Graduates are addressing these challenges.



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What is CALD?


CALD, an acronym for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, refers to individuals or communities that originate from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. With an increasing number of people from diverse cultural backgrounds calling Australia home, understanding the CALD definition becomes critical in ensuring efficient communications and service delivery.


Enhancing Operational Efficiency in Engagements with CALD Communities


All Graduates is frequently engaged to enhance operational efficiency for our clients, predominantly government departments and businesses interfacing with non-English speaking clients. We leverage technology to enhance this interface, providing valuable insights through reports and analyses. 


“From the moment a non-English speaking client walks into your office, the challenge you face is finding the balance between meeting their needs with the inherent cost and complexity of doing so.”


LiME: A Revolutionary Multilingual Messaging System for CALD Backgrounds


Several years ago, we conceptualised a platform-agnostic messaging system – LiME. Initially inspired by a multilingual telephone message line proposal, LiME has evolved into an innovative solution that allows communication on any platform. It ensures the message, the crucial component, reaches the CALD communities effectively.


Why is LiME Essential for CALD Communities?


Language barriers can cause anxiety and create obstacles for non-English speakers, affecting their ability to engage with society and access services. Our LiME system dramatically reduces miscommunication risks and improves access to information for CALD groups without sacrificing operational efficiencies.




Technology Advancements in Language Services

While AI technologies such as Google Translate and Siri are handy for day-to-day translations, they fall short in business and government communications. Our LiME system addresses this issue, helping organisations communicate repetitive messages efficiently while improving access to appropriate language communications for their increasingly diverse clients.


“LiME utilises multi-platform technology to create meaningful, comprehensive communications where and when you need them. Discover how it can work for you.”


Is the Term CALD Appropriate and Should We Still Use It?


Yes, the term CALD, standing for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, remains appropriate as it acknowledges and respects the cultural and linguistic diversity in our society. This term is widely used in Australia to describe both individuals and communities that are culturally and linguistically diverse.



Community translation refers to the process of translating documents or communication materials intended for a particular linguistic community, ensuring that the message is accessible and culturally appropriate.

‘Plain Language’ simplifies content to ensure the message is clear and easy to understand for everyone. ‘Easy English’, on the other hand, simplifies the content further and includes visual elements, particularly designed for people with low English proficiency or literacy difficulties.

The term CALD originated in Australia and is used to acknowledge and respect the diversity in cultural backgrounds and languages spoken among people residing in Australia. It is used in policy, service delivery, community development, and various fields to recognise and address the specific needs of people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

The top 10 languages spoken in Australia reflect the country’s linguistic diversity, with Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog, Hindi, Spanish, Punjabi, and German being the most spoken languages after English.

By understanding and respecting the diversity in our CALD communities, we can work together to build a more inclusive society. At All Graduates, we are committed to making communication as straightforward as possible, especially for those from diverse cultural backgrounds. Whether it’s through our multilingual messaging system, LiME, or our range of other professional development resources, we strive to deliver reliable, high-quality translation and interpreting services for all.

Have you ever had a misunderstanding with someone from a different culture? 

Ellias Appel
Ellias Appel | 4 Mar 2019

In our interconnected global landscape, businesses are no longer confined by borders. This makes navigating the intricate web of cross-cultural communication challenging, that’s why we came up with these key principles of cross-cultural communication in business. 

Australia, being a vibrant multicultural nation, understands the significance of effective cross-cultural communication in the world of business. Entrepreneurs are expanding their horizons and engaging with partners, clients, and customers from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Let us ask you a question: Have you ever had a misunderstanding with someone from a different culture? 

Chances are, you have. 

In this article, we delve into the heart of effective communication across cultures. We’ll explore the fundamental principles that bridge gaps, foster understanding, and create fruitful collaborations. From decoding non-verbal cues to embracing diversity, each principle is a stepping stone toward building strong international partnerships.

This comprehensive guide will unravel the complexities of cross-cultural communications tailored to meet the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs in Australia. 

What makes this guide valuable for Australians? – You might ask. 

The answer lies in the unique cultural tapestry of Australia itself—a nation that prides itself on its multicultural heritage. Australians, with their friendly and open-minded attitude, are well-placed to excel in global business ventures. By grasping these key principles, Australian entrepreneurs can not only expand their businesses overseas but also create inclusive environments right at home.

So are you ready to become a cross-cultural communication pro? 

Let’s dive in.

1 – Be Aware of Your Own Communication Style

The first among the key principles of cross-cultural communication in business is being aware. The way you communicate says a lot about you and your cultural values. As an Australian business owner, your style is likely casual, straightforward, and egalitarian. But for someone from a different culture, your communication habits could come across differently.

It’s important to recognize how your own beliefs and expectations shape the way you interact with others.

One of the key principles in cross-cultural communication is being aware of other people’s communication styles

Humans naturally tend to see people from different groups as outsiders. This tendency leads to forming stereotypes or generalizations, according to Gestalt theory.

Things you consider polite or efficient may be offensive or confusing to someone else. For example, gesturing for someone to hurry up or waving them off may seem rude to other cultures where non-verbal communication is more nuanced.

Do some self-reflection on your communication style and habits. Try to identify any assumptions you make about others and be open to different perspectives. This awareness and flexibility will help you better serve culturally diverse clients.

When interacting with non-English speakers especially, adjust your style to be more attentive, patient, and inclusive.

“It is important to be aware of your own values, beliefs, expectations and cultural practices, and consider how these impact on your responses, interactions and service provision to people from cultures different from your own.”

Queensland Department of Health.


2 –  Do Not Assume English Proficiency

When communicating with culturally diverse clients, never assume a high level of English proficiency. Many non-native English speakers experience anxiety when interacting in English, which can hamper their ability to communicate effectively.

If your client is smiling and nodding, it doesn’t always mean they fully understand. They might be doing it nervously to seem competent, not because they’re sure about what’s being said. 

To figure out if they need an interpreter, ask open-ended questions that need more than a yes or no answer. You can also ask them to explain what you’ve said in their own words. This isn’t meant to embarrass them but to see if they’re having trouble understanding.

Some signs that a client may have limited English proficiency include:

  • Avoiding eye contact. This could be a mark of respect in their culture rather than shyness.
  • Relying on a family member to interpret. While convenient, family members are not professional interpreters and may fail to fully convey critical information.
  • Difficulty understanding complex terms or following fast speech. Slow down your speaking pace and avoid jargon.
  • Expressing confusion or a lack of comprehension. Don’t hesitate to clarify and check for understanding.

a cartoon illustration of two guys talking to each other

To ensure your communications are received and understood, consider offering information in the client’s native language through channels like:

  • Bilingual staff members. If available, bilingual staff can help put clients at ease by communicating in their native tongue.
  • Professional interpreters. Don’t underestimate the value of a qualified interpreter, especially for sensitive or complex discussions.
  • Translated documents. Provide key information like intake forms, educational materials, or terms of service in the client’s native language.
  • Audio messages. For low-literacy clients or those without written language, recorded audio messages are an effective way to share details. Look for services that offer translation and distribution.

Failure to address language barriers and offer adequate language support can lead to anxiety, confusion, and lack of comprehension for non-English speaking clients. By making inclusiveness a priority and providing a variety of communication options, you’ll ensure all your clients receive the level of service they need.

3 – Don’t Equate English Skill with Intelligence

Just because your client struggles with English does not mean they lack intelligence or competence. Many highly educated professionals face challenges in learning a new language, especially one as complex as English. Do not make assumptions about someone’s mental abilities based solely on their English proficiency.

Rather than judging a client’s intelligence, focus on finding ways to effectively communicate. Using an interpreter or translation services allows you to have a meaningful dialogue and gain valuable insights. With patience and the right resources, you can have a productive working relationship regardless of language barriers.

The meaning and nuance of phrases often get lost in translation. Concepts common in English may be unfamiliar in other cultures and languages. For example, medical terms like “low-fat diet” or “high blood pressure” could confuse those without a healthcare background.

For instance, in Melbourne, we have something called ‘hook-turns,’ a unique maneuver for trams. When you translate this term into Arabic using Google Translate, it becomes ‘link turn.’ This highlights a scenario where not using the right language services could lead to more problems.

A client’s poor English skills often stem from a lack of opportunity or exposure, not a lack of intelligence. For many, learning English as a second language can be an immense challenge requiring time, dedication, and access to resources that are not always available.

Sandals, pluggers, flip flops, thongs

Sandals, pluggers, flip flops, thongs?


4 – Expecting Competent Literacy in their Native Language is a Mistake

Expecting your culturally diverse clients to have a high level of literacy in their native language is a mistake that can lead to confusion and anxiety. Many Australians struggle with literacy for a variety of reasons, and non-English speakers are no exception.

There is a reason why this is one of the key principles of cross-cultural communication because according to studies, over 30% of Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds might find it challenging to read and write in English. Just because someone speaks another language does not mean they can read or write in that language.

Do not assume that translating your communications into another language will be effective.

So what can you do?

Provide information in Multiple Formats

To reach all of your clients, provide information in various formats beyond the written word. Explaining things verbally, offering telephone messaging services, using graphics and illustrations, and sharing audio recordings can help get your message across.

For example, you might turn an info brochure into an audio message that can be accessed over the phone or shared on social media. Services like LiME allow you to record messages in multiple languages to reach non-English speaking clients across various channels.

Reduce anxiety by avoiding assumptions 

Non-English speakers often feel anxious when trying to communicate in English, especially in high-pressure situations like medical appointments or job interviews. Surrounding someone with complex language they struggle to understand can be intimidating and complicate their ability to communicate.

Take time to determine your client’s level of English proficiency and their preferred method of communication. Speaking slowly, avoiding jargon and complex terminology, and offering interpreter services or telephone messaging in their native language can help reduce anxiety and ensure your message is received.

Making assumptions about your clients’ abilities often leads to confusion, isolation, and failed communication. By providing information in multiple formats and taking steps to reduce anxiety, you can engage your culturally diverse and non-English speaking clients more effectively. Evaluate your current practices and make adjustments to accommodate people from all backgrounds.


“Multilingual messaging services such as LiME give you the flexibility to deliver pre-recorded audio to low literacy and non-English speaking clients across multiple communication channels”


5 – Failing to Involve an Interpreter

Failing to involve an interpreter when interacting with clients from non-English speaking backgrounds can be detrimental to effective communication and negatively impact their experience. This is why it is part of the key principles of cross-cultural communication in business. 

As a business, it is important to recognize that a client’s English proficiency should not be assumed, even if they appear reasonably fluent in conversational English.

Complex or technical discussions may prove challenging without the aid of a professional interpreter. An interpreter can help to clarify meaning, relay cultural nuances, and ensure full understanding between both parties. While relying on a bilingual staff member or family member can be an option, a qualified interpreter should be engaged in important interactions to avoid misunderstandings.

Remember, even with a shared language, cultural differences in communication styles can lead to confusion. Interpreters can explain subtle meanings that may otherwise be missed.

Consider your client’s needs

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. How would you feel surrounded by a group of professionals discussing a serious medical diagnosis or legal issue in a language you struggle with? Anxiety and confusion would likely ensue. Provide your clients with the means to fully comprehend discussions that impact them by offering interpreter services.

Enable Complete Involvement

With an interpreter on hand for important meetings and phone calls, you enable full participation from non-English speakers. They can ask questions, understand responses, and feel heard. Meanwhile, you gain insights that may have been lost without skilled interpretation.

Build trust through understanding

Taking steps to facilitate clear communication and address literacy needs helps to build trust in the client-business relationship. Your clients will appreciate your consideration of their circumstances and your willingness to go the extra mile to ensure they feel heard and understood. In turn, addressing communication barriers in this way can lead to greater client satisfaction, loyalty, and improved outcomes.

Making assumptions about a client’s communication needs based on their English proficiency or literacy levels risks misunderstandings, confusion, and a poor client experience. Failing to provide interpreter services or alternative formats denies clients full access and participation.

 For culturally and linguistically diverse clients, overcoming communication barriers is key to an empowering and impactful relationship with your business. With some forethought, these barriers can be addressed through professional interpreting services and multilingual messaging.


“We can help you best serve your non-English speaking and low literacy clients.”


6 – Engage in Meaningful Conversations

One of the key principles of cross-cultural communication is to immerse yourself in deep talks. 

To effectively communicate across cultures, engage in genuine conversations. Ask open-ended questions to start a dialog and show interest in learning about the other person.

A good way to start is by asking about family, work, hobbies, or home country. People will usually open up when you express interest in them. Listen without judgment and share information about yourself too, to build rapport and trust.

Be patient if there are language barriers. Speak clearly and avoid complicated words and idioms that may confuse the other person. Repeat or rephrase if needed. Don’t hesitate to politely ask for clarification if you’re unsure.

Discuss cultural similarities and differences respectfully. Share information about holidays, traditions, or values in your own culture and ask questions to learn about theirs. Find common ground and show appreciation for diversity.

Most of all, approach each conversation with an open and curious mind. Set aside stereotypes and preconceived notions. Treat each person as an individual and seek to understand them. Building connections through genuine, cross-cultural conversations is the key to successful communication and relationships.

7- Be Attentive to Non-Verbal Cues

When communicating across cultures, pay close attention to non-verbal signals. Things like eye contact, gestures, and body language can have different meanings in different cultures. For Australians, eye contact is usually seen as a sign of active listening and honesty. However, for some cultures, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect.

Before assuming someone is being rude or disengaged, consider their cultural background. If they seem uncomfortable making eye contact, try to put them at ease by also averting your gaze at times. Look for other signs that they are listening, such as nodding or leaning in. Mirroring their body language and speaking in a calm, friendly tone can help build rapport.

key principles of cross-cultural communication: a thumbs-up gesture can mean differently across cultures

Similarly, be aware that gestures, facial expressions, and proximity to others can differ across cultures. A “thumbs up” sign, for example, is positive in some cultures but offensive in others. Do some research on the cultural groups you interact with often to understand appropriate behavior. When in doubt, a smile, a polite greeting, and an open-minded attitude can go a long way.

Give people time to respond, as it may take longer to translate in their head or formulate a response. Extend the normal pause time in a conversation by a few seconds. This can reduce the chance of misunderstandings and prevent cutting someone off before they’ve had a chance to contribute.

With empathy, patience, and a willingness to understand other perspectives, you’ll find connecting across cultures rewarding. Make the effort to pick up on non-verbal cues, adapt your communication style, and clarify misunderstandings. Your cross-cultural interactions will be richer and more meaningful as a result.

8- Respect Cultural Differences

When communicating across cultures, respecting differences is key. Assume that people from other cultures view the world differently than you. Their values, beliefs, and communication styles have been shaped by their cultural upbringing, just as yours have.

Rather than judging these differences as right or wrong, seek to understand them. Ask open-ended questions to learn about cultural traditions and norms. Be curious and willing to see from multiple perspectives. Some things that seem strange or illogical to you may make perfect sense within that cultural context.

For example, avoid direct eye contact or a firm handshake in some Asian cultures where it can be seen as disrespectful. In some Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities, avoid using someone’s name after they have passed away out of respect. Learn about cultural taboos and sensitivities that could offend.

Making assumptions based on stereotypes is dangerous and can damage relationships and trust. Treat each person as an individual. While trends may exist within cultures, there is diversity among individuals. Someone’s cultural background alone does not define them.

When miscommunications or misunderstandings occur, remain patient and respectful. Apologize sincerely and work to find common ground again. Compromise when possible, as forcing your way of doing things onto others is unethical.

With an open and willing attitude, you can build strong cross-cultural relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. Focus on listening, empathy, and finding shared values. Respect differences rather than trying to eliminate them. Communicate with care, compassion, and cultural sensitivity. This inclusive approach will lead to more meaningful exchanges and cooperation.

9- Utilise Professional Translators

The last of the key principles of cross-cultural communication in the business arena is utilising the services of professional translators. 

When conducting business across cultures, professional language services are invaluable. Utilising interpreters and translators help ensure your message is received accurately by those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

As a business, it’s important to recognize that not all of your clients and customers will speak English fluently or at all. Assuming otherwise risks miscommunication and damaged relationships. 

Instead of relying on staff members with some language proficiency or expecting clients to “make do,” invest in professional interpreters and translators. They have the expertise to navigate cultural nuances and properly convey information in both directions.

For written communications, professional translators transform your content into the target languages of your audience. 

They go beyond word-for-word translation to craft messaging that resonates culturally. Your organization appears more accessible and inclusive, which fosters goodwill and loyalty.

Some additional benefits of utilizing language services such as translators include:

  • Avoiding confusion and offense by ensuring messages are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Gaining access to wider markets by reaching non-English speaking clients and customers.
  • Improving client satisfaction through ease of access and understanding.
  • Mitigating legal risks associated with miscommunication.
  • Enhancing workplace inclusiveness by empowering employees from diverse language backgrounds.

With many options for remote and on-site interpreting and document translation, professional language services have never been more convenient or vital for cross-cultural business communication. 

Make the investment in your organization’s multilingual capacity—and in showing respect for the diversity of your clients and customers. The rewards of clear, meaningful exchange are well worth it.


You’ve just learned some key ways to connect across cultural divides and thrive in our global economy.

As we reach the conclusion, it’s clear that understanding these key principles of cross-cultural communication in business is not just a choice, but a necessity in today’s globalized world. Now that you understand how to adapt your communication style, build trust, avoid stereotyping, encourage feedback, and foster inclusion, you’re well on your way to becoming an effective cross-cultural communicator.

Mastering these key principles of cross-cultural communication opens doors to endless opportunities in the international business arena. Apply these principles in your workplace and beyond, continue learning from every interaction, and make the effort to understand different perspectives. 

With an open and curious mindset, you’ll be collaborating, innovating, and achieving at a whole new level.

Moreover, we’ve learned that effective cross-cultural communication begins with embracing diversity. Australia’s rich multicultural fabric provides a strong foundation for this understanding. By acknowledging and celebrating our differences, we create an environment where collaboration and innovation flourish.

Armed with knowledge, empathy, and a commitment to understanding others, people here at All Graduates are well-equipped to navigate the intricate pathways of cross-cultural communication. We embrace these principles, celebrate diversity, and venture forth into helping the global marketplace with confidence, knowing that our services will not only drive business success but also foster a world where mutual respect and understanding prevail.

Let us be your partner as we wish you safe travels on your cross-cultural business journey and endeavour. 


  • Australia. Queensland Health. Queensland Health Language Services Policy [online] 2000 [cited July 2007]
  • When Culture Doesn’t Translate by Erin Meyer. Published in Harvard Business Review, 2015
  • Working on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges by Marcelle E. DuPraw and Marya Axner
  • The 5 Keys to Cross-Cultural Communication Success by Bianca Modo, 2023