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Language support

Information about the rights of prisoners whose first language is not English, and who have particular linguistic, cultural and religious requirements while in jail.

Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) are to be managed in a way that is sensitive to their cultural, social and linguistic needs. They are to be provided with up to date verbal and written information about prison services, regulations and prisoner rights and obligations in their preferred language.

See:

Intake

When prisoners are first received into prison the staff are required to identify prisoners from a culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who will require support services while they are in prison. This information is to be noted on a prisoner’s Individual Management Plan (IMP) file.

Part of this assessment involves deciding what level of linguistic and cultural support the prisoner needs and if possible, they are to be placed into an environment where they can access this support.

See:

  • DCI 2.09 Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and
  • DCI 1.11 Reception, care and control of prisoners

in Deputy Commissioner's instructions.

Access to information

At intake, the prison staff should find out if the information provided to the prisoners has been correctly understood. If the information has not been understood the staff should arrange for written material to be provided in the prisoner's preferred language. An accredited interpreter service should also be used to give verbal information that prisoners would normally be given at reception.

Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who do not speak English well, are where practicable, to be provided with adequate verbal and written information in their preferred language. They are also to be managed in a manner which is sensitive to their cultural needs. If possible the prisoner should be placed in an environment where this language support can be provided.

Prison staff will arrange for the translation of prisoner information booklets, notices and leaflets into the most common community languages and will make these accessible to prisoners.

See DCI 2.09 Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Opportunity for language education

Prison staff are to consider any language difficulties experienced by a prisoner and, where appropriate, actively support provision of English as a second language (ESL) education (spoken and written) to the prisoner.

See DCI 2.09 Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (particularly 1.2 Prison support ) in Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Interpreters

When prison staff are communicating with prisoners whose first language is not English, they should ask the prisoner if information given has been understood. If it has not been understood staff should provide written material in the prisoner's preferred language and an accredited interpreter.

The prison staff must access and utilise accredited interpreter services as and when required by prisoners. This is particularly vital for:

  • when they are first received into the prison system
  • disciplinary hearings
  • meetings of Case Management Review Committee management panel
  • meetings about the prisoner’s individual (IMP) file
  • meetings with Victoria Police or staff where an offence is being investigated
  • consulting with medical personnel, professional visitors, the Commissioner or Victorian Ombudsman.

See DCI 2.09 Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

More information

Legislation

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)

  • s. 19—cultural rights
  • s. 14—freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief

See Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic).

References

Deputy Commissioner's Instructions

The relevant DCI instructions can be accessed from the references section of this topic see References.

See Classification of prisoners—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Corrections Management Standards for Men's Prisons

See Part A, Section 4 'Prisoners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds' in Correctional Management Standards for Men's Prisons in Victoria in Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Standards for Prisoner and Offenders(opens in a new window).

Updated