Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team 2014

Ministry of Social Development — Sarah Moodie

Judge Sarah Stacy-Baynes with Sarah Moodie, Ministry of Social Development

Judges’ comment

You have developed an impressive suite of training tools that are well-designed and use humour to engage people. MSD clearly dedicates a lot of resource to staff training on clear communication, which should be celebrated. We are impressed by how you have reflected on what’s worked and what hasn’t. The training has been well-received by staff and their managers. In an organisation as large as MSD it must have been difficult to get traction initially, but your results speak for themselves. What stands out about this entry is that MSD is not just reliant on a team of expert writers within the organisation to turn badly written documents into clear plain English documents — you are training staff at all levels to be better writers and to lead by example.

Media statement

Ministry of Social Development recognised for cutting out the ‘gobbledygook’

A continued focus on people and their needs has resulted in a third consecutive win at the WriteMark Plain English Awards for the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry followed 2012’s Best Turnaround award with last year’s Plain English Champion — Best Organisation award. Now, in 2014’s WriteMark Plain English Awards, the Ministry has won both the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team award, and the Best Plain English Technical Communicator award. In addition, StudyLink has been recognised as a finalist in the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team category.

‘I am thrilled that the Ministry’s efforts to make our communications clear and readable have been recognised,’ says Carolyn Risk, Deputy CE of Corporate and Governance.

‘We support some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand and good, clear communication is fundamental to meeting their needs. We are always looking at ways we can better support the people who count on our services, as well as raising the standard of all our work within the Ministry. Replacing technical and bureaucratic language with clear, plain language is part of this.’

Sarah Moodie, writer/editor within the Ministry, received the Plain English Champion — Best Team or Individual award for the writing workshops she regularly holds for Ministry staff.

‘Clear, plain writing is a practical way of putting people’s needs first, whether our readers are the people who rely on our services or the colleagues we work with,’ says Mrs Moodie.

‘To have three finalists in this year’s awards is a huge honour, and I am very proud that our staff are continuing to look for opportunities to improve how we talk to those we deal with,’ says Ms Risk.

The three Ministry of Social Development finalists were:
Sarah Moodie — Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
StudyLink Service Support — Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
Janet Green, Risk and Assurance — Best Plain English Technical Communicator

Olivia Guthrie
Governance Advisor, Strategy and Governance