Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain Language Turnaround

New Zealand Parole Board

Winners NZ Parole Board team (right) receive their trophy from the category sponsor, Streamliners (left) | Emma Harding, Neville Trendle, Steven Rendall, Geordie Cassin, and Karyn McLean

Document name

NZPB Victim Notification Pack

Judges’ comments

This is an outstanding example of a plain language turnaround. Your document pack deals with a hugely sensitive topic — informing victims or survivors of a crime about the impending review by the parole board of the person who committed the crime. You gently and respectfully turned the pack from something that may have been seen as ‘triggering’ or impersonal into something that respectfully gives victims a voice. Your turnaround also recognises the user’s role as integral in this part of the justice system.

You’ve thought about the reader’s needs throughout your turnaround and that really shows. The turnaround means the victim or survivor has been made the focus of the document, where before it felt like they were a passive player in a legal process.

Congratulations on a turnaround that will truly make a difference to people’s lives.

Media statement

Two years ago, the New Zealand Parole Board began a project to improve the experience victims of crime have when dealing with us.

Our notification letter, booklet, and submission form represent a victim/survivor’s first contact with the Board and we knew they needed to be improved.

Working collaboratively with Victim Support’s Homicide Service team, and a very brave group of New Zealanders who formed the Victim Support Homicide Advisory Group, we comprehensively updated each of the documents.

We made the language more accessible. We changed the order of information to be more mindful of a victim’s feelings when reading our material for the first time. We updated the overall look and feel to make it warmer and easier to follow.

We knew we were on the right track when one of the victims involved said, ‘I was so moved by the effort and dedication of the team I cried. You have given me hope and made me feel seen and valued.’

We look forward to continuing this partnership with Victim Support so we can improve all our information and ensure victims/survivors’ voices are heard.

We’re really proud to have won the award for Best Plain Language Turnaround 2023.


Karyn McLean
General Manager
New Zealand Parole Board