Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

Media release: Human Services speaks your language online

22 March 2019

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

The Coalition Government is making it easier for Chinese Australians to interact with Centrelink, with the launch of a new online translation system.

The technology enables Chinese speakers to access the Department of Human Services’ Payment and Service Finder system to locate, estimate and compare benefits that they may be entitled to – all in their own language.

People can also use the translated pages to look for other services, like aged care or disability support in their local area.

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said there were more than 1 million Australians who identified as being of Chinese background, so it made good sense to deliver online services in languages other than English.

“With more and more government services being delivered digitally, we want to ensure people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are not missing out on the enormous convenience and simplicity our online platforms can offer,” Minister Keenan said.

“This is what digital transformation is all about – making it simpler and easier for all Australians to interact with government.”

The new translation service uses Microsoft’s tailored machine learning technology. During recent live trials, it was used almost 350 times a week to help Chinese speakers find and estimate payments and to locate services.

Those who do not want to go online can still access a wide range of support, either in person or over the phone. The department has more than 500 bilingual staff and approximately 70 Multicultural Service Officers who provide support to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Almost 100 of these staff use Cantonese and Mandarin to support customers in their everyday work.

During 2018, the department provided around 34,000 hours of on-site interpreting in Cantonese and Mandarin, and 27,800 ad-hoc interpreter arrangements took place in these languages across the departments face to face and call channels.

The Multilingual Phone Service, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, handles about 2500 calls a day. The service has more than 140 multilingual staff who can assist customers in more than 33 different languages. More than 20 of these staff speak Chinese languages.

To read, listen to or watch information in your language about payments and services go to humanservices.gov.au/yourlanguage

Page last updated: 22 March 2019