DFAT attempts day without acronyms in the name of charity
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DFAT attempts day without acronyms in the name of charity

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is attempting to succeed where most public servants have failed.

Staff are trying to go an entire 24 hours without saying a single acronym, all in the name of raising money for charity.

Now in its second year, all staff were encouraged to volunteer for the "Acronym Free Day" and are fining each other each time they use an acronym in conversation.

But it did not start well - department spinners used one of their pesky abbreviations in announcing the fundraiser - proving it may be too steep a challenge.

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When Alexander Downer became foreign minister in 1996reportedly handed a 100-page glossary of thousands of acronyms - a number o

So, while the department may have handled a thorny visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and helped conclude almost 10 years of free trade negotiations with China, this could be the most momentous task yet.

The British Civil Service employs "heads of clear English" to battle jargon. One such head in the Health Department, Mark Morris, laid out the bureaucracy's language problems in a blog post earlier this year.

"Across government, our sentences are too long, our words too complex, and our phrases stuffed with management jargon, technical language and acronyms. It's enough to bring people out in a rash," he said.

The British government even has an online style guide. In Australia the public service style guide was last updated 12 years ago and is not available in full online,

It is understood fines for abbreviation utterances collected on Thursday in Australia will go to The Kids Helpline. M

We will be watching it accrue with interest.

Do you know more? Send your confidential tips to ps@canberratimes.com.au.

Primrose covers breaking political news from The Australian Financial Review's Canberra newsroom.

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