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SBS to Broadcast Covid content in multiple languages

Multicultural broadcaster SBS will start providing live interpretations of the NSW government’s COVID-19 updates in Arabic and Vietnamese on its television channels in an effort to clearly communicate lockdown restrictions and vaccination messages to badly affected communities.

Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown are among the worst affected areas in NSW’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, and a high number of households in those areas speak a language other than English at home. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said health authorities were also concerned with Sydney’s Bayside, Burwood and Inner West council areas.

David Hua, SBS’ director of audio and language content, said the frequent changes and updates to restrictions could cause confusion for communities and that communicating the requests of government was complex.

“A lot that has been changing with the virus over the last little while … particularly the last few weeks, and that has added to confusion right across for [our] community,” Mr Hua said.

“I actively avoid using the word translation and I actually use the term re-expression. The nuance of a narrative is not about the words, it’s really about the meaning, and then applying the cultural context to it that represents that meaning.”

SBS introduced live interpretations of updates by Ms Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on social media several weeks ago, but has not used its television channels – SBS and SBS Viceland – to interpret the COVID-19 updates live.

The interpretations on television will occur in Arabic on SBS and Vietnamese on SBS Viceland for NSW audiences. Streaming of these languages and Assyrian, Cantonese, Khmer and Mandarin will run on the online streaming website, SBS On Demand. Ms Berejiklian and her colleagues will remain on screen, but viewers will listen to her comments in the language