Inner West Council, which was created earlier this year as an amalgamation of Leichhardt, Ashfield and Marrickville councils, sent a draft ruling to parents last week, warning that any presents of significant value (bottles of wine, store vouchers, etc) could not be accepted by teachers or childcare workers, who fall under the same anti-corruption rules as council staff.
“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,” the memo read. “We would like to avoid these situations, particularly so as not to upset any of our children.”
Following the memo, a spokesman for the council said, “With the three former councils coming together we are just trying to ensure that all of our staff are taking the same approach and that no one is accepting inappropriate gifts. The note mentions gifts that are significant or cash-based. A small box of chocolates as a thankyou to a carer who has looked after your child would be OK."
Former Leichhardt Council mayor Darcy Byrne slammed the decision, telling The Daily Telegraph, “A Christmas crackdown in gifts for early childhood educators is the last thing the council should be focused on."
He said, “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.”
Inner West Council covers a number of major Sydney suburbs including Annandale, Balmain, Camperdown, Croydon, Enmore, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Newtown, Petersham, Rozelle, Stanmore and Tempe.