MATE, arguably the most Australian of words, has been banned by the Northern NSW Local Health District from use within the work environment in a recent internal communication.
The memo was sent to remind staff that some patients may take offence to colloquial language intended to be affectionate and supportive and said with the best of intentions.
Terms that should not be used by health staff in the Northern Rivers are mate, darling, sweetheart and honey.
"This type of language should not be used across any level of the organisation such as employee to employee or employee to client," the memo reportedly said.
Although supported by some, it was the idea of banning the word mate that was rejected by many.
Local health authorities conceded that such language may be acceptable in situations where staff members have established an ongoing relationship with a patient.
Health district chief executive Chris Crawford said the memo was sent because "there were some complaints from some of our customers, our clients, that some of the language used didn't treat them with the proper degree of respect".
Nola Scilinato, organiser of the Northern NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, agreed that "people need to use professional language while at work, but with the appropriate flexibility to interact normally with patients."
Deborah Wilson, executive director of client development at Trevor-Roberts, has extensive experience in cultural change in large organisations.
Asked how to spell her name correctly, Mrs Wilson joked: "Just call me honey."
"I don't mind the word mate but I much prefer being called by my name than sweetheart, darling and honey," she said.
The consultant said that "if it is appropriate in the work environment and there were complaints, then I think they all need to get behind it."
Deborah Wilson said that people with unusual names due to their parents' creativity or because of their exotic background (such as Javier, for instance) are often called 'mate' when people are unsure on how to pronounce them.
Discussion over this issue was heated yesterday on our website. One of the comments read: "(Tongue firmly in cheek) I never woulda thought that a bloke like Crawfy would do sumfin' like dis. Crikey! Anyone'd think we were all nongs the way this is soundin'. Who doesn't use mate as a term of endearment. I mean, stone the flamin' crows! How much can a koala bear! "
Good on ya, mate!
Top five Aussie words
- Mate = Friend, don't remember your name
- G'day = Greetings
- Arvo = Afternoon
- Tucker = Food
- Snags = Sausage
Other interesting Aussie words
- Cobber = Friend, don't remember your name
- Sheila = A female of Australian origin.
- Strewth = Short for God's truth
- Dunny = A composting toilet
- Crikey = An exclamation, variation of 'Christ'.