Select Page

Drop the Jargon is a day for professionals in Australian health, community services and local government to use plain language.

Pledge now

Why should I pledge?

6 out of 10 of people in Australia have low health literacy.

This means that the majority of people in Australia have difficulty accessing, understanding and using health information as well as difficulty navigating the health system.

Using jargon, technical terms and acronyms contributes to low health literacy.

By dropping the jargon, you are helping individuals understand and use information to make informed decisions and actions affecting their health and wellbeing.


% of people in Australia with low health literacy

How do I drop the jargon?

Use plain language

1. Swap jargon for plain language.

For example: Swap ‘facilitate’ for ‘help’,  ‘approximately’ for ‘about’, ‘modify’ for ‘change’. Here’s a useful resource to help you with your word/phrase swap.

2. Use the active voice, identifying who is doing the action.

3. Use ‘you’ and ‘we’ to talk directly to the person you’re speaking to.

The person is ‘you’. The health service or government agency is ‘we’. This will help engage your audiences.

4. Keep your sentences short

5. Avoid clichés

For example: ‘go cold turkey’

6. Explain any jargon you need to use.

If there is no plain language alternative, use jargon but explain the term the first time you use it.

7. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms

And if you do use them, explain what they are and spell them out.

8. Focus on the positive, not ‘should’ and ‘don’t’.

These plain language tips were sourced from the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services Communication and Health Literacy Toolkit.

Have plain language descriptions of medical terms at your fingertips

These tools convert medical language into everyday English.

We recommend you download this Plain Language Thesaurus to your desktop. This resource lists many medical terms with their plain language equivalent. For example, instead of saying ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’, say ‘lung disease’. Instead of saying ‘rheumatoid arthritis’ say ‘disease of joints’.

You might also want to check out the PlainMed app and the Plain Language Medical Dictionary.

Check understanding

To check if a person understands, ask them to explain or demonstrate what you said. If the person doesn’t explain it correctly or misses vital points, re-teach the information. This isn’t a test of the consumer’s knowledge; it’s a test of how well you’ve communicated.

Try using the teach-back technique

Teach-back is one of the easiest ways to check you’ve succeeded in communicating. It involves:

1. Emphasising that it’s your responsibility to explain things clearly

2. Asking the consumer to explain in their own words the main points from what you’ve said.


Source: Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services Communication and Health Literacy Toolkit.

Check out this video for an example –  Here’s a video that demonstrates the teach-back technique in a hepatitis B context.
Low English proficiency

When you are working with people with limited English proficiency, you should use interpreters and/or translations services.

Have a look at these language services information sheets produced by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health that explain how to access and use interpreters and translation services effectively.

Sign the pledge

Drop the Jargon 2016


321 signatures

Share this with your friends:



Pledge to Drop the Jargon


In taking the pledge, you are accepting the challenge to:

  • Use plain language in all communication – with other staff and with clients
  • Not use acronyms
  • Explain medical and other technical terminology
  • Check that information has been understood by your clients
  • Work with a professional interpreter when your clients have low English proficiency
  • Politely point out when your colleagues use jargon
See who has pledged

Latest Signatures
321Sally M.Cobaw Community healthOct 20, 2016
320Janie B.RDNSOct 20, 2016
319Louisa W.La Trobe UniversityOct 20, 2016
318shirley a.West Wimmera Health ServiceOct 20, 2016
317Sharon M.RDNSOct 20, 2016
316Michael R.RDNSOct 20, 2016
315Cath L.cohealth Oct 20, 2016
314Andy S.cohealth Health WorksOct 20, 2016
313Melissa M.Terang & Mortlake Health serviceOct 20, 2016
312Bronwen C.RDNSOct 20, 2016
311Rosemarie D.RDNSOct 20, 2016
310Mark H.Calvary Health Care BethlehemOct 20, 2016
309Elizabeth S.Werribee Mercy HospitalOct 20, 2016
308Helen O.Southwest Primary Care Partnerships Oct 20, 2016
307Linda M.Peninsula HealthOct 20, 2016
306Olive A.Carrington HealthOct 20, 2016
305Tracey N.Mercy Health, Mercy Care Centre YoungOct 20, 2016
304Peter L.Carrington HealthOct 20, 2016
303Lisa E.Carrington HealthOct 20, 2016
302Roslyn C.WMH Outpatient ClinicsOct 20, 2016
301Carolyn L.DjHSOct 20, 2016
300Julie M.WWHSOct 20, 2016
299Kate E.Bendigo HealthOct 20, 2016
298Jennie J.Austin HealthOct 20, 2016
297Sally M.Inner East Primary Care PartnershipOct 20, 2016
296Deb M.Oct 20, 2016
295Jitka J.kilmore & district hospitalOct 20, 2016
294James B.Bendigo HealthOct 20, 2016
293Jacinta L.South West HealthcareOct 20, 2016
292Bree F.Bendigo HealthOct 20, 2016
291Nafisa Y.Cancer Council Victoria Oct 20, 2016
290Kylie H.Peninsula HealthOct 20, 2016
289Tracey H.Eastern HealthOct 19, 2016
288Zita C.Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
287Kylie B.Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
286Laurene M.Mercy Health - Rice VillageOct 19, 2016
285Caroline C.Frankston HospitalOct 19, 2016
284Karen B.Alexandra District HealthOct 19, 2016
283Jane M.Campape Primary Care PartnershipOct 19, 2016
282Gordon C.cohealthOct 19, 2016
281jade h.peninsula healthOct 19, 2016
280Paula K.Mind AustraliaOct 19, 2016
279Jacqui I.Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
278Alison S.Sunbury Community HealthOct 19, 2016
277Campbell R.SEMPHNOct 19, 2016
276Amanda D.Plenty Valley Community HealthOct 19, 2016
275Em .Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
274Sue R.SEMPHNOct 19, 2016
273Bridget D.South Eastern Melbourne PHNOct 19, 2016
272Emily H.SEMPHNOct 19, 2016
271Salome A.SEMPIROct 19, 2016
270Cheryl R.South Eastern Melbourne PHNOct 19, 2016
269Leanne R.SEMPHNOct 19, 2016
268Emma G.South Eastern Melbourne PHNOct 19, 2016
267Rona W.Oct 19, 2016
266Louise S.SEMPHNOct 19, 2016
265Jessica S.Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
264Sabina T.Centre for culture, ethnicity and healthOct 19, 2016
263Laura O.North Richmond Community HealthOct 19, 2016
262Rebecca R.Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and HealthOct 19, 2016
261Sophie D.Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, North Richmond Community Health CentreOct 19, 2016
260Kirstu s.Peninsula HealthOct 19, 2016
259Sini J.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
258Anne-Marie F.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
257Tracey H.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
256Sarah W.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
255Rosalind R.Peninsual HealthOct 18, 2016
254Avril W.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
253karen g.peninsula healthOct 18, 2016
252Philippa H.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
251Elissa R.Peninsula Health Oct 18, 2016
250Suzy L.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
249Maria T.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
248saramma j.peninsulaOct 18, 2016
247Damian F.Ambulance VictoriaOct 18, 2016
246Xiao Meng C.St George Hospital & Health Service, SESLHDOct 18, 2016
245Dan M.Peninsula Health Oct 18, 2016
244Kate S.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
243Kirsten C.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
242Andrew H.Peninsula Community HealthOct 18, 2016
241Rob J.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
240Monique O.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
239Helen H.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
238Ellie L.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
237Jocelyn I.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
236Keryn B.Peninsula Health Oct 18, 2016
235Rebecca T.Peninsula Health Oct 18, 2016
234Jo D.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
233Kate M.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
232Elaine H.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
231Judi M.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
230Helena F.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
229Judy A.Peninsula Health.Oct 18, 2016
228Ronda J.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
227Sharon W.Peninsula HealthOct 18, 2016
226Christopher C.Oct 18, 2016
225Mel C.NWMPHNOct 18, 2016
224Ashleigh F.Ageing, Disability and Home CareOct 18, 2016
223Elizabeth S.eastern healthOct 18, 2016
222Bronwyn H.The University of NewcastleOct 18, 2016

About us

Drop the Jargon day is organised by a collection of organisations committed to improving health literacy.

Some of these agencies participated in the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health’s Health Literacy Course.

Based in Melbourne, Australia.

More information about the Health Literacy course

Health literacy course 2017

Each year, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health runs a Health Literacy Course. This course builds the capacity of agencies to respond to health literacy at the level of the client-practitioner interaction, as well as embedding organisation-wide health literacy strategies into systems, operations, planning and workforce development.

This course will provide you strategies and tools to help you embed health literacy strategies in your organisation.

The course has four full-day workshops held every second month, along with small projects between each workshop so that the learning can be implemented within participants’ organisations.

There is also an Executives Forum that brings together course participants and senior executives to plan the way forward for health literacy at all levels of the organisations.

Enrolments open for 2017 in October 2016.

Course enquiries: please contact Jolyon Burford, Training Coordinator, Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health via


How was it to drop the jargon?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Joanne Green says:

    I have become very conscious of using jargon after discussions with some of my team mates so it was something that was already on my radar. One of the things that I didn’t consider was abbreviations I used the abbreviation “DBT” (dialectical behavioural therapy) without a thought and didn’t realise until one of my co-workers explained what it mean to our social work student.

    Still some work to be done!

  • Jenny says:

    It was easy than I thought is was going to be, I did use jargon on one occasion, then realised immediately what I had done and corrected myself. It does make you aware of all the jargon we use in various professions, interest group, sports and communities.

  • Louise Francis says:

    I found it was easy for me not to use jargon as I have never been in favour of it and I try not to use it regardless. However, during a presentation the other day that jargon was being used and some of us attending did mention to the presenter that it was drop the jargon day.

  • Bronwen Cornell says:

    It felt good to drop the jargon and try real communication for a change. I think the clients appreciated the effort but one lady (long term client) corrected me and tried to add the jargon when I didn’t use it. Overall several NESB clients were particularly warmly appreciative of my efforts and I think it is worth continuing to try, even if I don’t always do it.

  • Julie B says:

    I found it highlighted how dependent we are in the health sector on using acronyms, especially when I realised that I had used only the acronym for our organisation name when registering for drop the jargon day.