Marking law firm Slater and Gordon’s 75th anniversary, Managing director, Andrew Grech, launched the company’s multilingual serviceson Tuesday.

Mr Grech said the “we speak your language” program aims to break down language barriers and assist people with limited or zero English language skills encountering difficulty in understanding their legal rights.

Slater and Gordon will implement a free hotline with nine bilingual customer service operators to assist people of non-English speaking backgrounds in accessing legal information.

“People from non-English speaking backgrounds can call our hotline, for free and without obligtion and get help straight away in Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic or Vietnamese,” Mr Grech said, adding that if the firm doesn’t have anyone who speaks the required language on-site they will find someone who does and call the client back.

Mr Grech, the son of Maltese immigrants, said the move is a first for a law firm.

“We’re aware that our migrant population may miss out on justice or legal help, and that’s because it’s often difficult for non-English speakers to contact a lawyer when they need assistance,” he said.

CEO of the AFL Andrew Demetriou and Chairperson of Australian Multicultural Advisory Committee (AMAC), and Foundation House director Paris Aristotle OAM also spoke at the launch, impressing the importance of multilingual services for a multicultural Australia.

Mr Demetriou said it is important to reflect a cross section of the community in every area, from sports to the corporate sector, adding that Australia’s approach to multiculturalism should be commended.

“We embrace newcomers, we are a compassionate, humane society and that’s something we should be proud of,” he said. He also reflected on how sport was a way of integrating refugees and migrants into Australia and talked at length about the AFL’s Western Sydney multicultural program and the AFL’s commitment to sports without borders.

Mr Demetriou highlighted the positive impact of migration to Australia as underscored in AMAC’s report, The People of Australia. Paris Aristotle said communication is a vital ingredient to making a society work and there has previously been very little done in the corporate sector to improve migrant issues.

“Multilingual services are necessary; this is an important business decision for companies to make,” he said. “Slater and Gordon embracing these cultures gives people a chance to pursue justice.”

Slater and Gordon’s multicultural liaison, Stephanie Lagos, said people want to be able to speak about legal problems in their own language and that this program was leading the way for others. “This sets precedent,” she said.