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What's in a name? 'Centres for resilience' win award for worst


A confusing name bestowed on purpose-built quarantine facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic has been named the worst word or phrase of 2021.

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When new quarantine centres were announced in Melbourne and Brisbane this year to house international travellers, the federal government dubbed them “Centres for National Resilience”.

It came after Howard Springs’ quarantine facility south of Darwin, originally a workers accommodation facility, was rebranded a Centre for National Resilience last year.

The title was picked as authorities argued the permanent facilities could be used for crises beyond COVID-19 and future pandemics, including as relief accommodation for bushfires and floods.

But the Sydney-based Plain English Foundation, which has curated an annual list of the worst words and phrases since 2010, has crowned it the year’s worst word or phrase.

“Australians like to pride ourselves on calling a spade a spade,” foundation executive director Dr Neil James said in a statement on Wednesday.

“But when it comes to quarantine, it seems the plain word wasn’t fancy enough.”

Another Covid-speak nominee was “national vaccination allocation horizons”, a federal health phrase coined to refer to dose distribution targets to each state when the jab rollout was struggling to meet demand.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian also made the shortlist after saying she would “absolutely potentially” consider vaccine incentives to boost rates.

“When facing our worst public health crisis in a century, plain language is critical so the public understand what is happening and what they need to do. Yet too often the language was unclear,” James said.

The foundation also panned the increasing use by police of the term “edged weapon” to describe a knife, officials referring to shark attacks in reports and warnings as “negative encounters” or “interactions”, along with buzzwords such as metaverse and non-fungible token.

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