Plain English effort a winner

Dunedin City Council communications team leader Andrea Jones (left) and senior policy analyst...
Dunedin City Council communications team leader Andrea Jones (left) and senior policy analyst Tami Sargeant skim over the council’s 10-year plan consultation document they both worked on and which won best plain English document in the public sector category earlier this week. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Plain speaking is a virtue it seems when it comes to complex council documents.

For shunning technical jargon and opting to use easy-to-understand information instead, the Dunedin City Council has won a plain English award. It won the best plain English document in the public sector category for its 10-year plan consultation document at the awards in Wellington on Thursday night.

Organised by the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust, the awards aim to improve the language used in government and business documents and raise awareness of the need for, and benefits of, plain English.

Judges said the document was a challenging document which was handled superbly by the council.

They also liked the conversational and engaging tone, excellent use of active voice and the inviting combination of text and graphics.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said there had been a push by councillors in the past few years to make public documents more accessible.

Staff were also slowly working through the council’s letters and simplifying the language used in some of the most hard-to-read ones.

"Frankly, I struggle to sometimes understand all of those so we’ve set out to fix some of those to make them easier to read."

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