Lifestyle & Belief

Australian workers told not to call each other 'mate' or 'honey' out of respect


Judy Harris of Gold Coast and a friend sit at a bar in the Hard Rock Cafe on June 18, 2006 in Munich, Germany.


Carsten Koall

Health workers in Australia have been ordered not to call coworkers "mate," "sweetheart" or "honey," as it is "disrespectful, disempowering and non-professional." 

A memo sent out by a local health district in the state of New South Wales reminded government health workers about the need for professional language in the workplace, the Northern Star reported.

"This type of language should not be used across any level of the organization such as employee to employee or employee to client," the memo reportedly says. 

According to the ABC it continues:

"The utilization of this language within the work place at any time is not appropriate and may be perceived as disrespectful, disempowering and non-professional."

The state's most senior politician, Premier Barry O'Farrell, said that he supported the memo generally, as "we don't want public servants providing services to the public to be referring to the public as sweetheart, darling or honey."


"I have some issues myself around the word mate — I think it is part of the Australian vernacular."

Local health chief Chris Crawford said workers had some flexibility and could use their discretion when it came to pleasantries, adding that it depended on the context.

He said:

"Some of that language actually can win people over because it sort of establishes a rapport, particularly with a client you might know and therefore sort of have some sort of relationship with."

The Star, meantime, cited social trend researchers at McCrindle Research as saying that the 65.6 percent of Australians were extremely/very proud of the word "mate."