Tuesday 20th October 2020

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

This year Drop the Jargon Day is Tuesday 20th October 2020








Why should I pledge?


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

Many Australians have trouble understanding and using information provided by organisations. They also have trouble navigating complicated systems like healthcare services.

When we use jargon, technical terms or acronyms, it is hard for people with low health literacy to understand and use information.

Drop the Jargon Day this year is on Tuesday 20th October 2020. Pledge and take part in activities at your workplace. Make it easy for people with low health literacy to get better information and outcomes from services they use.

How do I drop the jargon?

Use plain language

1. Swap jargon for plain language.

For example: Swap ‘facilitate’ for ‘help’. Here’s a useful resource to help.

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

For example: Change ‘The prescription can be picked up by you at the pharmacy’ to ‘You can pick up the prescription at the pharmacy’.

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: ‘give me a hand’

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.

More resources here.

Have plain language descriptions of confusing terms at your fingertips

Use plain language dictionaries to help you convert jargon into language that is easy to understand.

Some examples:
Easy English Resources of health Translations
Accessible Information – Easy English and Plain Language
PlainMed app
Plain Language Medical Dictionary
Plain language legal glossary

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.

Pledge to Drop the Jargon

  • 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

Drop the Jargon

**your signature**

9 signatures = 2% of goal

Share this with your friends:


Drop the Jargon

**your signature**

9 signatures = 2% of goal

Share this with your friends:


Resources to promote and celebrate the day:

  1. Run a lunchtime quiz. Download Quiz (pdf)
  2. Put up posters at your workplace. Download Posters A4, A3, A2
  3. Share this video on your website, or via social media. Video to share https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_-PT1HokT4
  4. Add a banner to your website or social media. Download banners: Large 1440 x 500px Smaller 997 x 345px

About us

Drop the Jargon Day started in 2014. Different organisations (see below) interested in clear communication were looking to build on the work they had done at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health as graduates of the Health Literacy Course.

Better health literacy practice in organisations can dramatically improve health outcomes, particularly in the most marginalised population groups. Knowing this, the passionate organisations below decided to do something to promote good communication with and help organisations reach more people in our community.

Thanks to this enthusiasm, Drop the Jargon has grown over the last few years and reached thousands of dedicated practitioners and organisations.

More information about the Health Literacy course

Health literacy course

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 in October. Course enquiries: please contact Jolyon Burford, Training Coordinator at Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health.

Add your JARGON here

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