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Some memories shape you, often without you realising it. And this week as we launch the Clear Communication Awards I am reflecting on what motivated me to be involved and it all comes back to stories of burning books.

About the awards

If you haven’t heard of the Clear Communication Awards – which wouldn’t be a surprise, as we are only launching them this week – the awards are a joint project of myself, Carol Mackay and Carolyn Alexander. They acknowledge information projects that combine excellence in design, communication and plain language. Because everyone benefits from being able to find the information that they need more easily. The awards open in March 2019.

The burning books

So, what do the awards have to do with burning books? As a kid I was fascinated by history mostly because I liked stories. And some of those stories were about the power and symbolism of information such as conquering armies trashing libraries and the burning of books in WWII. The concept of the power of information has stuck with me. It is at the core of the principles of the Clear Communication Awards.

Being able to fully participate in society involves being able to understand it and to have access to the information that you need to do so.

For 12 years I worked at the Victoria Law Foundation which during my time delivered programs to help Victorians understand that law. I now sit on the Victoria Legal Aid board. From first-hand experience I know the importance of easy-to-understand information on the law and rights. But I also know that while there is a lot of information out there it is not all good. Money is being spent on brochures, guides and websites that are poorly designed, poorly written and just plain bad.

What we want to achieve

We established the awards to increase the number of good projects and reduce the bad. We will do this by:

  • Encouraging and advocate for clear, well designed and easy-to-understand communications that can be understood on the first reading.
  • Promoting the importance and value of clear communication and the need for information to be accessible to everyone in the community.
  • Providing opportunities to increase knowledge about how communication can be improved.
  • Highlighting and encourage excellent examples of clear communication.
  • Discouraging and highlight poor communication, with the aim of creating positive change.

Keep in touch

So, if you are involved in a project that you think showcases the best in clear communication enter our awards.

The awards open in June 2019.

We’re releasing information regularly. Subscribe to our mailing list or follow our Clear Communication Awards page on LinkedIn to receive updates on categories, judges and lots of information on clear communication.


Joh Kirby

Joh Kirby is a co-founder of the Clear Communication Awards. For eight years she was the Executive Director of the Victoria Law Foundation providing education programs on the law to the community. She is a board member of Victoria Legal Aid, a board member and past president of Clarity, an international body promoting plain legal language. Joh sits on the Standards Working Group of the International Plain Language Federation and in 2010 received a Churchill Fellowship to investigate community legal education.

She uses her knowledge of clear communication to assist not-for-profits to develop better governance systems in her business Kirby Governance.

Joh Kirby

Author Joh Kirby

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