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Winners announced in 2012 Plain English Awards

Winners announced in 2012 Plain English Awards

The Cancer Society was the big winner in the 2012 Plain English Awards, while Nova Energy had the dubious honour of winning Worst ‘Brainstrain’ Communication. The Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue also had plenty to celebrate as winners of the inaugural Best Plain English Turnaround Award. At a cocktail event tonight hosted by major sponsor and past winner Kiwibank, nine other winners also accepted a stunning Awards trophy made by Wellington sculptor Campbell Maud. MC for the evening, comedian and lawyer James Elliott, kept the event moving at a lively pace and added his own brand of off-beat humour to the serious business of fighting officialese and obfuscation.

‘Impressive commitment to clear communication’
The panel of international judges praised the Cancer Society’s commitment to clear communication and user-focused materials, saying that many health organisations would benefit from adopting the Cancer Society’s impressive approach. The Society won the coveted ‘Plain English Champion — Best Organisation Award’, which also gave them a prize package worth $10,000 from New Zealand’s plain English specialists and major sponsor, Write Limited. In response to their success, the Society said they were delighted with their win. ‘We want people with cancer and their carers to receive information that’s clear and in a format they want to receive it in,’ said the Society’s National Information Manager, Sarah Stacy-Baynes. The Cancer Society was also a finalist in two other categories.

An illegible, inaccessible example of ‘fine print’

Winners of the dreaded People’s Choice — Worst ‘Brainstrain’ Award, Nova Energy, were applauded for fronting up to receive their prize — a shiny stainless steel bin filled with sour worm lollies.

Called ‘illegible, inaccessible, and a fine example of fine print’ by the judges, the Nova Energy Terms and Conditions for Gas and Electricity Supply was unanimously judged to be the standout winner of the Brainstrain Award. Award presenter and sponsor, Sue Chetwin of Consumer NZ, congratulated Nova for promising to take the feedback seriously and said she looked forward to seeing an improved version.

Plain English Awards Trust Chair, Gregory Fortuin, also commented that the Brainstrain Award ‘usually gives organisations strong reasons for changing the way they communicate. We have every confidence that Nova will hear the message and take action’.

From worst to best — ‘a brilliant turnaround’
The news was all good for a document jointly owned by the Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue — a different story to that of the 2006 Awards when their Student Loan contract received the first ever ‘Brainstrain’ Award. At that time, the Ministry issued a press statement vowing to do better. And do better they did. The judges declared that the new plain English contract was ‘excellent’, saying ‘It has all the information a contract needs and none that it doesn’t. It successfully speaks to its audience — students — rather than addressing contract lawyers and policy writers. A brilliant turnaround and a well-deserved win!’ Kiwibank’s Chief Executive, Paul Brock, who had noted in his welcome speech that the Bank ‘has always been a strong advocate for straight talking’, warmly praised the Turnaround, citing it as great example for 2012 Brainstrain nominees.

People, organisations, and specialist documents all honoured
Other Awards were picked up by well-known names in both the public and private sectors: NZ Transport Agency (Plain English Champion — Best Team), Statistics New Zealand (Best Public Sector Document), Salvation Army Blue Mountain Adventure Centre (Best Private Sector Document), ‘Sorted’ (Best Public Sector Website), Beef + Lamb New Zealand (Best Private Sector Website), UDC Finance (Best Investor Document), Telecom New Zealand (Best Sentence Transformation), and BreastScreen Aotearoa (People’s Choice — Best Document).

Category sponsors
Sponsors for this year’s Awards included Write Limited, Kiwibank, New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Technical Communicators’ Association of New Zealand, Consumer NZ, Graphic Solutions Limited,, Editor Software (UK), 3 Months Agile Web Solutions, and New Zealand Translation Centre.

Full list of winners and finalists
Plain English Champion — Best Organisation
Winner: Cancer Society of New Zealand
Finalists: No finalists published

Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
Winner: NZ Transport Agency — Manawatu Gorge Team
• Cancer Society of New Zealand — Editorial Team
• NZ Transport Agency — The Give Way Rule Team

Best Plain English Document — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO)
Winner: Statistics New Zealand — How to tell a story using statistics
• Commerce Commission — Electricity and the Commerce Commission's role
• Ministry of Social Development — Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents (SKIP)

Best Plain English Document — Private Sector
Winner: Blue Mountain Adventure Centre — Conquer Your Own Mountain!
Finalist: Gareth Morgan Investments — Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver Scheme Annual Report 2012

Best Plain English Website — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO)
Winner: Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income —
• Cancer Society of New Zealand —
• Careers New Zealand —

Best Plain English Website — Private Sector
Winner: Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd —
Finalist: Gareth Morgan Investments —

Best Plain English Sentence Transformation
Winner: Telecom New Zealand Limited — Annette Hamilton
• Inland Revenue Department — Megan Mills
• Telecom New Zealand Limited — Annette Hamilton (2nd entry)

Best Plain English Technical Communicator
Winner: Telecom New Zealand Limited — Sarah Burns
• Commerce Commission — Allanah Kalafatelis
• Xero — Kylie McGrath

Best Plain English Investor Document
Winner: UDC Finance Limited — UDC Secured Investments Prospectus 65
• Goldman Henry — US50 Fund Ltd. Annual Report 2011
• Pathfinder Management Ltd — Pathfinder Asset Management Prospectus

People's Choice — Best Plain English Communication
Winner: BreastScreen Aotearoa
Finalists: No finalists published

People's Choice — Worst 'Brainstrain' Communication
Winner: Nova Energy — Standard Terms for Gas and Electricity Supply
Finalists: No finalists published

Best Plain English Turnaround
Winner: Ministry of Social Development / Inland Revenue Department — Student Loan Contract
Finalist: Commerce Commission — Anti-competitive practices

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