The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) funded a series of remote interpreting technology pilot projects to test the use of technology, such as video conferencing and the internet, to assist government services to be provided to people with low English proficiency, particularly in remote, rural and regional locations, or to source interpreters in low demand languages. The initiative to use technology aligns strategically with State Government goals and policy. The major benefits of the initiative were seen to be:
- more effectively meet demand for interpreters,
- provide better access to services when required,
- improve the quality of service provision, and
- demonstrate an economic benefit.
The VMC engaged BSR Solutions to evaluate the success of service delivery at the trial sites. BSR Solutions used a well proven issues based methodology which focuses on assessing outcomes modified to incorporate the principles of Results Based Accountability (Friedman), which is widely used in the human services sector, both within Australia and internationally. Results Based Accountability, as an evaluation methodology, essentially asks three basic questions:
- What services were delivered?
- How well were the services delivered?
- Was anyone better off?
Core success factors of the evaluation findings are:
- Timeliness of project delivery,
- The amount of budget consumed (e.g. was additional funding required and why?),
- The amount of functionality delivery against the full set of business requirements, and
- Assessment of the effectiveness of working relationships.
Our findings were that the most significant factors for success at the pilot sites were leaders who took on a ‘champion’ role to implement the trial, the nomination of a key person as a project manager, and the involvement of IT expert support to establish reliable technology infrastructure. This was done by undertaking full testing prior to going live and being available for immediate resolution of technology problems for each interpreter session during the trial, until issues were resolved.