Regardless of our role, we all need to communicate clearly so our audience understands our message, can use the information we provide, and use it in the way that we intended.

There is no single definition of plain language.  Both the UK and US commonly use the following one:

‘A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.’

As an emergency service, it is critical that we use language that is easy to understand and gets our message across. For example, members of our Community Readiness and Recovery team spend a lot of time helping to build fire safety and emergency preparedness through education across the country. Using plain language in their communications and their resources with diverse communities means it is more likely that people will easily understand the messages.

This is why Fire and Emergency has developed a Plain Language Standard to help everyone at Fire and Emergency use plain language in their communications, whichever form that communication may take.

Another reason is because, as a Crown agent, we must comply with the Plain Language Act 2022(external link), which came into force on 21 April 2023.

Deputy Chief Executive of the Office of the Chief Executive Bryan Dunne says he is totally committed to encouraging his teams to use plain language in their communications including, for example, to our Minister and the Board.

‘Using plain language doesn’t mean speaking down to someone or oversimplifying your message. It means your intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.  Ministers and Boards are incredibly busy.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a Minister or a Board member who complained that something was too easy to understand and to use.’ 

We have developed a Portal page which includes the Standard, a checklist, lots of resources, and examples of plain language. It also outlines our obligations under the Act.

We will be providing tips and tricks over the coming months and there will be training available for those who would like it. If you have any questions, please contact the Content Team at


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