Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: Best Plain Language Document — Public Sector

Ministry of Social Development

Finalist Ministry of Social Development proudly displaying their Award of Distinction | Danielle Prattley

Document name

Feeling Anxious About Work

Judges’ comments

This webpage is aimed at people with mental health challenges who need support to find a job. The authors spent a lot of time talking to their intended audience and it shows. The design is simple and effective with clear headings to help readers find the information they’re looking for. The text includes simple words and paragraphs that are short and focused. And the authors have landed on a tone of voice that’s exactly right — it’s empathetic and friendly, but never sounds patronising.

Media statement

Looking for work can be a very stressful time, and it can be particularly hard if someone is already anxious or struggling.

Our purpose is to help New Zealanders to be safe, strong and independent. A large part of this is making sure people have support to prepare for and find a job. This webpage tells people what’s available, but it also shows that we consider mental health to be extremely important, and we know how crucial it is to look after this.

We had two goals for the content of this webpage: to be as plain and easy to read as possible, but also to have a tone that reflects and reacts to how our readers feel. To do this we used research from all parts of our Ministry’s service, not just employment. This gave us a wide view of how people are feeling and what they need.

We’ve created a webpage that is empathetic, encouraging and positive. It makes people feel understood and less pressured and gives them hope and motivation to move forward. It’s also user-friendly and is easy to read quickly and scroll through. The services are easy to tell apart, making it easy to pick one and follow through to find out more.

This work has helped us figure out how we can write to acknowledge our user’s needs and feelings, and show people they can rely on us. We hope this will lead us on to create more webpages like this to help New Zealanders. We’re very proud to be finalists for Best Plain Language Document — Public Sector in the 2023 Plain Language Awards.


Danielle Prattley
Senior Advisor Online Content │ Service Delivery Communications
Ministry of Social Development