A day in the life of a Mandarin interpreter during COVID
Siao Du has been working as an interpreter for over eight years. Born in Dili, the Capital city of East Timor, Siao studied in Taiwan (at the Taipei Nursing College) from 1973-1977 before coming to Australia in December 1977.
Interpreting for her parents at a young age, Siao wanted to become an interpreter to help people from East Timor who had limited English.
“I did all communication and interpreting work for my parents when they saw doctors, also when they needed to see other health professionals or government agencies,” Siao said.
Originally working as a nurse, Siao still loves working in healthcare and now specialises in Maternal and Child health interpreting appointments.
“I used to work as a Maternal and Child Health Nurse at a community-based health centre for Monash Council, so helping customers in these situations comes very natural to me,” Siao said.
“During these appointments I interpret for women during their pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal health checks for their newborn children.”
Since the pandemic, Siao has been very involved in various COVID-19 projects around Melbourne – interpreting for Government initiated door knocking, COVID testing and interpreting test results.
“This year has been very busy helping people understand the risks of the pandemic and how to prevent transmission,” Siao said.
“I felt I have made a difference helping those who do not understand English, now have a clearer understanding of the pandemic – which is important to prevent community transmission.”
Due to social distancing requirements, Siao’s job has now changed significantly.
“I used to do a lot more on-site interpreting appointments at healthcare centres and hospitals but now because of COVID we’ve been able to provide interpreting assistance through video consultations,” Siao said.
“I find video interpreting more convenient for all parties involved – professionals, non-speaking customers and myself.”
Working as a Hakka and Mandarin interpreter, Siao believes interpreting for community healthcare centres is particularly rewarding.
“I used to work at various Community Health Centres across Melbourne for many years and could see how valuable language services were for the community,” Siao said.
“Working as an interpreter now, I love to see that – with my help – people can confidently communicate with health workers and professionals.”