All qualified interpreters listed in the SLIANZ Directory of Sign Language Interpreters, as well as associate members (if they undertake interpreting work) are expected to follow the Association's Code of Ethics and Code of Practice. If a SLIANZ member has broken the Code of Ethics, a complaint may be made. Our procedure is set out below.
SLIANZ takes a mediation approach to resolve complaints wherever possible. The process is private and confidential. We will encourage the interpreter and the person making the complaint to talk to each other, with support from the SLIANZ complaints committee. There is a limited range of disciplinary actions that SLIANZ can take in serious cases.
SLIANZ encourage people who wish to make a complaint to discuss the issue directly with the interpreter, and/or with the booking agency / employer of the interpreter first.
Who can make a complaint?
Complaints can be accepted from:
- Clients of the interpreter
- People / agencies responsible for booking the interpreter on the occasion that the complaint arose
- Other participants in the situation where the complaint arose, including colleague interpreters
How do I make a complaint?
The complaints procedure is explained in detail below. For a quick overview, watch the video above.
I am not happy with something the interpreter did. What can I do?
- Have you talked to the interpreter about it? - It's sometimes easier to resolve problems this way.
- Have you talked about it to the person or agency who provided the interpreter ? They might be able to help you resolve the problem.
- What kind of problem is it?
SLIANZ can deal with these kinds of complaints:
- The interpreter has broken the Code of Ethics. Examples: information was not kept confidential; the interpreter did not interpret all the information; the interpreter made personal comments in the job
- The interpreter has not been professional. Examples: they turn up late all the time; they are rude
SLIANZ does not deal with these kinds of complaints:
- The interpreter used a sign you don't like
- The interpreter turned up late once
- Other minor problems
- Complaints about interpreters who are not members of SLIANZ
When did the problem happen?
SLIANZ generally only accepts complaints about problems that happened in the last 2 months. The Complaints Committee may decide to accept an older complaint if the person complaining has tried to resolve the problem in other ways, but it is still ongoing.
Did anyone else witness the situation/problem who could add comments or information about your complaint?
SLIANZ may follow up with these people if the complaint is accepted.
I still want to complain. What do I do now?
1. You have 4 different ways you can complain:
- Write a letter with details of your complaint to the SLIANZ Secretary
- Video your complaint in NZSL and send to SLIANZ
- Fill in the online form
- Contact SLIANZ and ask to meet face to face, or via telephone or video conferencing, to submit your complaint. (There must be at least two committee members at the meeting. They will listen and take notes about your complaint, and you must sign your name on the notes).
2. SLIANZ president and secretary will get the complaint.
- You will get a letter saying we have received your complaint.
- The president and secretary will talk about it and decide if it is serious. We will let you know what we have decided within 7 days after the date that we received the complaint.
Two things can happen:
1. Your complaint is not accepted. Example: The interpreter has not broken the code of ethics, or the complaint is a minor complaint.
SLIANZ will send you a letter explaining that your complaint was not accepted. We may tell you about other ways to solve your complaint.
If you don't agree with our decision, you have 30 days to contact us again.
2. Your complaint is accepted.
What happens if my complaint is accepted?
1. The complaint will be sent to the SLIANZ complaint committee.
The committee normally has four people: a chairperson from the SLIANZ Committee; other people representing SLIANZ; a Deaf community member and sometimes other groups. Sometimes we may ask more people to join the committee. You will be told who the members of the committee are before we continue with your complaint.
2. You and the interpreter will get a letter from SLIANZ about the complaint. This will happen within 30 days.
3. The interpreter replies to SLIANZ about the complaint. They have 30 days to reply from when they get the letter. They will give their view about the complaint. They can give evidence about the situation.
The complaints committee may also ask other people about the situation. For example, the booking agency, other participants in the situation, or other interpreters who were present. We will only talk to other people if it is needed, and we will let you know which other people we talk to.
4. SLIANZ will send you a summary of what the interpreter said.
If you are satisfied with the interpreter's reply, then the complaint will be closed.
What about confidentiality?
From the time SLIANZ receives your complaint, all parts of the process remain confidential. The first people to see your complaint are the Secretary and the President. If your complaint is accepted, it is sent to other members of the complaints committee (and you will be told who the people on the complaints committee are). No other people will be given information about the complaint.
During the mediation process, we ask both the person making the complaint and the interpreter to keep all details confidential, and not to tell other people that a complaint has been made.
After a complaint is closed, all details and correspondence are deleted from the complaints committee's files and computers. The President keeps a general record of complaints received, but no names or other identifying information are given in this record.
I'm still not satisfied with the situation. What's next?
The SLIANZ complaints committee will help you and the interpreter to talk about the complaint.
- This can be face to face. At a meeting you can bring a support person with you and so can the interpreter. Two or more complaints committee members will be there.
- If you do not want to have a face-to-face meeting, the committee can meet separately with you and then with the interpreter.
- You and the interpreter can give more information about the problem, by yourself or with the help of an advocate or someone else to support you.
What will happen after the meeting?
If you are satisfied with the interpreter's reply in the meeting, then the complaint will be closed. You and the interpreter will get a letter with notes from the meeting.
If the problem can't be resolved in the meeting:
The complaints committee will decide what to do about the problem.
1. We may decide there is not enough proof that the interpreter was wrong. The complaint will be rejected.
2. We may decide that the interpreter was wrong, but there were good reasons or they were working in a hard or unusual situation. The complaint is accepted but nothing else will happen.
3. We may decide that the interpreter was wrong, and we will write a warning to the interpreter. (You will get a copy of this letter.) The warning and actions will only be for a set amount of time.
The warning might say
- The interpreter must get supervision or mentoring in their work, which SLIANZ will arrange.
- The interpreter can't work in certain settings, and we will contact booking agencies about this.
- The interpreter's name is taken out of the SLIANZ directory, and they will not be a SLIANZ member.
Please be aware that SLIANZ do not have the authority to stop a person from working as an interpreter.
I am still not satisfied. What can I do now?
You can ask SLIANZ to think again about their decision. This is called an appeal.
- You must do this within 30 days of the last letter you got from the complaints committee.
- We decide if we will accept your appeal or not, within 14 days of getting your letter.
- If the appeal is accepted, an appeal panel will be set up and will look at your complaint. The people in the panel will be a chairperson from an independent organisation (e.g. from the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters), a qualified SLIANZ member and a Deaf representative. This panel will make the final decision about the complaint.
How long will the Complaints procedure take from beginning to end?
SLIANZ believes the Complaints procedure should take no longer than 6 months