Always Choose a NAATI Translator if You Want to Get It Right the First Time

By David Mendoza GAICD

As a migrant growing up in Australia, I have always been aware of the crucial role played by interpreters and translators in Australia’s multicultural communities. Some of my earliest memories include attending community events where young interpreters would bridge the language gap in real time using simultaneous interpreting equipment: booth, microphone, and headsets. These interpreters, who were bilingual children of people I knew, were highly respected and admired for their ability to navigate between languages, helping us understand English verbally and in writing.

While this method worked well for most cases, there were times when a formal translation or a qualified interpreter with NAATI certification was required. I first became aware of this difference when I needed to provide a translation of my birth certificate to prove my identity. It was then that I first saw a NAATI-certified translation. Unlike informal translations, the NAATI version held weight with government agencies, in Australia and around the world.

NAATI stands for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. NAATI certification is more than just a qualification; it’s a rigorous certification process that ensures translators possess the necessary skills and knowledge. In a world that is more globalised than ever before, the importance of NAATI-certified translations in Australia has only increased.

CHIN has worked alongside governments and the private sector for decades to translate communication for diverse communities in Australia and abroad.
What is NAATI?

NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) is jointly owned by the federal, state, and territory governments of Australia. It serves a crucial role in maintaining high standards within the translating and interpreting industry. Its purpose is to establish national standards and certify translators. This certification process underscores the importance of engaging qualified professionals who can accurately and effectively translate documents without losing the intended meaning of the original text.

Over the years, the pathway to becoming a NAATI-certified translator has evolved. Today, a key prerequisite for applicants is to complete formal academic training in translation or interpreting. This change reflects NAATI’s commitment to ensuring that translators are not only proficient in language skills but also have a deep understanding of cultural nuances, ethical considerations, and the theoretical frameworks that underpin translation practices. At CHIN, we have always placed a high value on education with our in-house translators holding Master’s degrees in Translation and Interpreting. This ensures that our in-house translators have a comprehensive understanding of translation and are equipped to handle a wide range of texts.

In the mid-2010s, CHIN played a key role in making the Shrine of Remembrance map more inclusive by translating it for a wider range of visitors.
Who is a NAATI Certified Translator?

A NAATI-certified Translator is a professional who has undergone the rigorous assessment process established by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. To achieve this certification, applicants must demonstrate their proficiency in translating across various text types and show a deep understanding of the ethical and practical challenges in the profession. The tests are designed to be demanding to ensure that only those with the necessary skills and knowledge can obtain the title of NAATI-certified translator.

We value high standards for translators and take pride in recognising their achievements: our 2017 celebration of translators.

The certification not only serves as a testament to the translator’s abilities but also acts as a guarantee that their translation will be accepted by official institutions within Australia. However, NAATI certification is just one factor. It is also important to consider the translator’s experience and whether they are part of a broader team that can provide support and expertise for a wide range of text types. For example, at CHIN you can be confident that a team of translators is working on your document. Our very own Professor Charles Qin OAM, who is NAATI Level 5, and our Operations Manager Marcus Liu are always available to support and advise translators if they encounter any challenging text. Additionally, determining if you can have direct communication with your NAATI translator is a benefit and something we pride ourselves in offering here at CHIN. Unfortunately, this is becoming a rarity in Australia as companies outsource their support staff and work to translators offshore making it hard to ask questions or give feedback.

NAATI Translators in Practice

NAATI-certified translators play an essential role in both government and private-sector communication. They translate flyers, ads, contracts, and brochures in languages other than English for financial institutions, government agencies, court cases and organisations like the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink. CHIN, for instance, has been providing translation services to these government agencies, including state and federal governments, for multicultural marketing purposes for decades. Recently, our translators have worked on significant government marketing campaigns, such as The Voice to Parliament, Victoria’s Big Build, and TAFE campaigns in Victoria and New South Wales. These multilingual marketing campaigns included translating online advertisements, newspaper ads, short-form video ads, and radio placements in different languages ranging from Hindi, Somali, and Vietnamese to Chinese.

Our team translated the entire run of The Australian’s Wish magazine into Chinese, starting with the first edition in 2015.

While the translation may appear straightforward to the client, it is actually a complex process that involves several stages, including draft translations, reviews, editing, and finalisation. And sometimes even back-translation for verification. The goal is to ensure that the final translation effectively communicates the message of the source text to the target audience. Certain projects also require a community checker to review the translation to ensure that it reads well within a given context, such as social media, and that any accompanying imagery effectively communicates the message. However, even with these thorough measures, occasional negative feedback can arise. This might seem surprising, but languages are forever changing and evolving with regional variations. For example, Spanish is spoken in Spain, the United States, and across Latin America, but there are clear distinctions between the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Dominican Republic, or between Dominican Spanish and Colombian Spanish, for example. This applies to many languages like Arabic, Chinese, French, and Portuguese that are used across various countries and regions.

Translation Feedback Is an Important Step

To ensure effective feedback on a translation, we recommend that clients ask for specific details when they believe something may be wrong with a translation. While we understand providing detailed notes can be time-consuming, it allows us to pinpoint the exact issue. This is especially important for languages with regional variations, like Spanish or Arabic. For instance, feedback from someone in Taiwan on Mainland Chinese might not reflect the target Mainland audience’s preferences. Our cautionary advice is if the person providing feedback says they don’t have time to provide feedback, or they can’t write or type the characters to show a potential error, these are red flags to their competence, and you should take their feedback with a grain of salt.

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to translate marketing materials for musical performances, theater productions, and ballets.
Trust NAATI; Trust Local

I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of clear and accurate translation. It is disheartening to see that this profession is not given the value it deserves, especially considering the significant role it plays in Australia – one of the most multicultural countries in the world. This has led some language service providers to outsource not just administrative tasks, but even translations themselves. But here at CHIN, we stand firm in our commitment to quality, and employ local talent. We have been local for 30 years and thriving, so whether you need assistance with a court case, a product disclosure statement, a contract, multicultural marketing, delegation visits, or meetings with investors. Feel free to get in touch with our team at CHIN, and we would be more than happy to assist you.


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GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

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