Free Interpreting Service for Pharmacies

Pharmacists are reminded of the availability of the Federal Government’s Free Interpreting Service which aims to provide equitable access to key services for people with limited or no English language proficiency. The FIS provides support for key services that are otherwise not covered under Commonwealth or state and territory services. Access to the FIS is not time-limited and is available on an ongoing basis to anyone in Australia who is eligible for Medicare.

This could have special significance in helping to obtain informed consent when COVID vaccinations are rolled out through community pharmacies.

Pharmacies dispense medications that can be dangerous if taken incorrectly and information about medications can be complex.

It is essential that people can communicate effectively with staff in pharmacies about the medications they are taking, how to take them correctly and understand any risks or side effects that may be associated.

Using interpreters can also protect pharmacists from professional risk.

The Free Interpreting Service:

- is free, easy and convenient

- connects the pharmacy to an interpreter within a few minutes

- includes access to more than 2500 interpreters in more than 150 different languages

- is private and confidential

- is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year
Pharmacists and other staff working in pharmacies are eligible for the Free Interpreting Service if:
- the pharmacy has a PBS approval number OR a pharmacist is registered with AHPRA
- they are working in a community setting (hospital pharmacies should refer to their hospital’s interpreting policy)
- the client is entitled to Medicare

Pharmacies can use the Free Interpreting Service to access immediate or pre-booked phone interpreting. Immediate phone interpreting is best for unplanned interactions.

Source: , viewed 11 June 2021.