Associate Professor Christine Ji receives Community Service Award

1 July 2024
Recognising leadership in health equality
On 13th June, Associate Professor Christine Meng Ji from the School of Languages and Cultures was honoured with the prestigious NSW Government Community Service Award.
Dr Christine Ji receives her NSW Government Community Service Award

This award acknowledges individuals who have significantly enhanced the quality of life in Australian communities.

The awardees are held in high regard in the community with strong ethical and community values. Previous awardees from the University of Sydney include Jane Spring AM, currently Chair of the Australian Disability Strategy Advisory Council for the Department of Social Services (DSS).

Associate Professor Ji was recognised for her decade-long dedication to research and community service aimed at promoting multicultural health.

Throughout her career at the University of Sydney, she has made outstanding and highly regarded contributions to health equality, notably improving access to health education resources and services for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.

Over the past few years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that there is a critical shortage of accredited translators and interpreters.

These professionals play a vital role in helping vulnerable community members navigate health and mental health services, aged care, disability support, domestic and family violence support services, refugee settlement, and other essential services.

As Associate Professor Ji identifies, the challenge lies not only in recruiting translators and interpreters but also in structuring and resourcing a system that addresses acute needs in minority languages.

This poses a significant question for health services: how can we leverage digital health technology in a culturally more inclusive and safer way when the demand for translators and interpreters in minority languages is not clearly known?

As a world-leading researcher of the ethical use of translation technology, Associate Professor Ji’s research has informed international policy on how to balance the safety and cost-effectiveness of translation services for vulnerable communities, and how to leverage AI technologies in a safe, responsible way to close the health equity gap in multicultural societies.

Her research on machine translation risk monitoring for migrant health services has been used as evidence in ‘Non-discrimination in Health Programs and Activities’, a federal health rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of the Secretary, and the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Her newly authored book Multilingual Environmental Communication – Language Accessibility Matters will be published by Cambridge University Press later this year.

This book provides needed evidence of the risk of miscommunications caused by machine translations of health information to Asian and African minority languages.

In recognition of her international expertise in multilingual accessibility research and sustained community engagement, Associate Professor Ji was appointed in 2024 as a member of two working groups on Multilingualism and Information Accessibility for UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) in Paris.

She has been invited by the IFAP secretariat to develop policy briefs for UNESCO on multilingual information accessibility in Australia. This appointment underscores her leading role in advancing information accessibility for multicultural people, including those with disability, on a global scale, noted Mr Cordel Green, Vice-Chairman of the IFAP.

The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott expresses his heartfelt congratulations to Associate Professor Ji, praising her excellent work in research and community engagement services.

“At the University, we often talk about the importance of improving lives in the communities we serve – the wonderful work you are doing epitomizes that ongoing ambition,” says Mark Scott.

“I see that you have numerous other roles that reflect your strong commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion, particularly in disability. The University is very grateful for everything you continue to do to support a better workplace and teaching and learning environment for all of our staff and students.”

Associate Professor Ji's recognition is not only a personal achievement but also a significant milestone for the University of Sydney. Her work exemplifies the University’s mission to enhance community well-being and foster a more inclusive society.

Professor Lisa Adkins, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, says the award is a great recognition of Professor Ji’s leadership.

“Congratulations to Associate Professor Christine Ji on receiving the NSW Government Community Service Award for her outstanding contributions to promoting multicultural health and improving access to health resources for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. Her international recognition and appointment to UNESCO's Information for All Programme underscore her leadership in multilingual accessibility research.”

Associate Professor Ji's work continues to make a profound impact on the lives of many, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of language, have access to the health services and support they need to thrive.

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