Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain Language Website — Public Sector 2022

Ministry of Social Development

MSD | Tim Herbert and Alice Moloney


Judges’ comments

This excellent website is an example of effective plain language writing and information design. The tone is reassuring, caring and helpful, as well as being clear and non-judgemental. It is real but not scary.

And the content strongly supports the purpose of the site to provide helpful, straightforward 24/7 information and support to victim/survivors of family violence and their friends, family, and advocates.

We love that you have tested the site with users to gauge their feedback and improve where needed — and that you have a focus on continuous improvement. This website is an excellent resource that will help people in difficult situations.

Media statement

In Aotearoa New Zealand one in three people will experience physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

While family violence help is available, not everyone knows how to access it. That’s why it was so important that MSD’s website provides straightforward information and support pathways for people experiencing family violence and their supporters.

We put victim/survivors voices at the heart of this kaupapa to make sure the language, tone and content of the site was right. We also worked with family violence support providers to make sure information was accessible and relevant for different communities.

Our research shows that site users find it easy to navigate, with relevant information and a welcoming tone. This was reflected in users’ verbatim comments too (for example, “I like how the website is inviting and not confronting at all… The information presented on the website is really informative and provides a nice comforting way to explain things but not taking away the importance of the situation.”).

The success of couldn’t have happened without the collaboration of family violence sector experts, users and frontline workers. We will continue to work with them on improvements to make the site even better.

We are very proud to have won the award for Best Plain Language Website — Public Sector in the 2022 Plain Language Awards.


Alice Moloney
Senior Advisor — Safety and Stability, Family Violence
Safe, Strong Families and Communities
Ministry of Social Development