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Winners announced in 2013 Plain English Awards

Winners announced in 2013 Plain English Awards
3 December 2013

The Ministry of Social Development was the big winner at the 2013 Plain English Awards. The Ministry won the supreme award for Plain English Champion — Best Organisation at the ceremony tonight in Wellington.

Awards newcomer, ANZ, scooped a win in four categories, showing that plain language can triumph over financial speak in even the most complex of documents. ANZ was also a finalist in three other categories, plainly showing a commitment to clear communication.

The Best Plain English Turnaround award was won by Inland Revenue, who achieved their goal of making the new tax guides ‘relevant and readable’.

The State Services Commission had the dubious honour of winning the Worst ‘Brainstrain’ communication.

Winners received a stunning trophy made by Wellington sculptor Campbell Maud. MC for the evening, comedian and lawyer James Elliott, added his own brand of off-beat humour to the serious business of fighting officialise and obfuscation.

‘Good understanding of clients’ needs’
The panel of international judges praised the Ministry of Social Development’s commitment to plain English, saying the organisation showed a ‘good understanding of their clients’ needs’.

In response to their success, the Ministry of Social Development said they were delighted with their win.

‘Over the past two years, the Ministry has been implementing the Government’s welfare reform programme, representing the biggest changes to the welfare system in 50 years. Most of Work and Income’s forms, brochures, and web pages were revised to reflect these changes and we took the opportunity to make sure information was easy for clients to understand and use. Clients, stakeholders and staff were extensively consulted in the development and testing of communications,’ says Emily Fulford, Advisor — Planning, Performance and Governance.

The Ministry’s win follows their win of the 2012 Best Turnaround award, in which they received high praise for redrafting the student loan contract that had previously won a Brainstrain award.

This year’s win gave the Ministry a prize package worth $10,000 from New Zealand’s plain English specialists and major sponsor, Write Limited.

‘Management speak at its best’
Winners of the dreaded People’s Choice — Worst ‘Brainstrain’ award, the State Services Commission, were applauded for fronting up to receive their prize — a shiny stainless-steel bin filled with sour worm lollies. Judges said their advertisement for a Director of Continuous Improvement was ‘outstanding’ and ‘management speak at its best’. ‘We had no idea of what sort of person was being sought or what qualifications would best suit the position.’

The State Services Commission says the win was a timely reminder to take their own medicine and make improvements. Plain English Awards Trust chair, Gregory Fortuin, commented that the Brainstrain award usually gave organisations a big incentive to change the way they communicate.

People, organisations, and specialist documents all honoured
Other awards were picked up by well-known names in both the public and private sectors:
• Environmental Protection Authority (Best Public Sector Document)
• Accident Compensation Corporation (Best Public Sector Website)
• Equinox IT (Best Private Sector Website)
• Xero (Best Sentence Transformation)
• Statistics New Zealand (a tie with ANZ Wealth for Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team)
• Kylie Mason, Ministry of Health (Best Technical Communicator).

Awards sponsors
Sponsors for this year’s Awards included Write Limited, NZ Superannuation Fund, Consumer NZ, BusinessNZ, UDC Finance, Sysdoc, Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand, Chris Mitchell Design,, NZ Post, and Editor Software.


The full list of winners and finalists is below.

Winner’s media statements will be available from later in the evening of 3 December 2013.

Full list of winners and finalists

Plain English Champion — Best Organisation
Winner: Ministry of Social Development
• Department of Internal Affairs
• Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner

Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
Winners: (tied)
• ANZ Wealth
• Statistics New Zealand — Editorial Team
Finalist: Department of Internal Affairs — Digital Engagement Team

Best Plain English Document — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO)
Winner: Environmental Protection Authority — Hazardous Substances Toolbox
• Ministry of Social Development — SKIP Tips for Parents
• Standards New Zealand — Standards Council Statement of Intent 2013 – 2016

Best Plain English Document — Private Sector
Winner: ANZ — ANZ KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement
• ANZ — Memorandum of Mortgage
• Thorn Rentals NZ Ltd (trading as dtr) — Flip charts

Best Plain English Website — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO)
Winner: Accident Compensation Corporation —
• Careers New Zealand —
• St Mary's Early Childhood Education Centre —

Best Plain English Website — Private Sector
Winner: Equinox IT —
• ANZ —
• Martelli McKegg —

Best Plain English Sentence Transformation
Winner: Xero — Kylie McGrath’s sentence from 'Add or edit a fixed asset'
• Xero — Ros Black’s sentence from 'Foreign currency bills and invoices'
• Xero — Kylie McGrath’s sentence from 'View customer or supplier contact details'

Best Plain English Technical Communicator
Winner: Kylie Mason, Ministry of Health
• Chloe Hooper, Statistics New Zealand
• Ros Black, Xero

Best Plain English Investor Document
Winner: ANZ — ANZ KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement
• AMP Services (NZ) Ltd — AMP KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement
• ANZ — OneAnswer KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement and OnePath KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement (tied due to being similar)

Best Plain English Turnaround
Winner: Internet and Publishing Team, Inland Revenue — IR 240 and IR 333 information guides
• ANZ — Memorandum of Mortgage
• Department of Internal Affairs — from to
• Thorn Rentals NZ Ltd (trading as dtr) — Flip charts

People's Choice — Best Plain English Communication
Winner: ANZ — ANZ KiwiSaver Scheme Investment Statement
Finalist: High Court of New Zealand — The Hutt City Council v The Lower Hutt District Court & Ors

People's Choice — Worst 'Brainstrain' Communication

Winner: State Services Commission — Job description: Director — Continuous Improvement
Finalist: Hamilton City Council — Hatch, Match and Dispatch factsheet


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