The Inner West Sydney Council has banned daycare children from giving Christmas presents to teachers this gift-giving season.
The council has issued the draft ruling to parents, warning them not to give “significant” personal gifts to staff this festive season because it breaches the employee code of conduct. It added that anti-corruption rules exist for senior council bureaucrats accepting gifts, like in council planning departments.
A council memo sent to parents stated:
“We do acknowledge that some families feel strongly about showing their appreciation to our educators and staff for their work with the children throughout the year.
“With this in mind, I would ask you to consider carefully any gifts you may offer. For example, a simple thank you card, or a child-made creation or drawing as alternatives to traditional gifts.”
The council specified the gifts as “significant” personal gifts, cash or cash-like gifts, including store vouchers. It would also rule out a decent bottle of plonk or anything worth more than a “token amount” for teachers and carers.
“Please be aware that gifts which are not of a token nature, cash or cash-like gifts (such as gift cards etc) will be politely declined by our staff. We would like to avoid these situations, particularly so as not to upset any of our children,” the memo added.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, former Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne has slammed the ban.
“A Christmas crackdown in gifts for early childhood educators is the last thing the council should be focused on.
“Parents know how undervalued and underpaid these educators are and want to show their appreciation for what they do for our kids.
“Government has no business tying down this Christmas spirit with red tape,” he said.
Local Government Minister Paul Toole agreed, saying that there is “nothing wrong with kids bringing along gifts”. “The council’s policy allows for token gifts, but advises against anything that’s elaborate or expensive. I encourage the council, and mums and dads, to exercise common sense,” he said.
The rules for teachers working in state-run primary and high schools are not so strict but the education department’s code of conduct says gifts worth $50 or more must be declared.