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Contact Us:

Siri Gunawardana (She/her)
Capacity Building Coordinator
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health (CEH)
📞 +61 (03) 9418 9912


Upcoming Webinar


“Making your spoken and written communication easier to understand with plain language”

In this webinar, CEH trainers Jolyon and Siri outline:

  • How their use of plain language has evolved
  • Outline their latest tips and strategies for spoken and written plain language
  • Discuss plain language strategies for organisations
  • Discuss and answer your using plain language as a worker or organisation

25/10/2022, 12:00 – 1:00 PM, Time zone: (UTC+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Microsoft Teams meeting

Register for this event below:

Webinar/Making your spoken and written communication easier to understand with plain language


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

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 produced by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health that explain how to access and use interpreters and translation services effectively.

Resources to promote and celebrate the day:

  1. Run a lunchtime quiz. Download Quiz (pdf) Quiz (pptx)
  2. Put up posters at your workplace. Download Poster – DTJ2022 A3 Poster
  3. Share this video on your website, or via social media – Video to share (YouTube)
  4. Add a banner to your website or social media.

Download banners: DTJ2022 Banner Large_1445 x 498px | DTJ2022 Banner Smaller_997x345px

Use these images to promote clear communication on social media (purposefully created for Instagram, Facebook etc)

SQUARE IMAGES (1080 x 1080px)

LANDSCAPE IMAGES (1920 x 1080px)

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is about how people find, understand and use information to make decisions about their health. In recent years, the focus of health literacy has shifted from individual responsibility for understanding complex systems and information, to organisations improving the health environment to match the needs of their consumers.

#dropthejargon & learn the skills to communicate more effectively

The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health has been an Australian pioneer and leader in health literacy since 2010, training health and community sector workers about using health literacy to improve their work and the safety and quality of their services. Here is how we can help you and your organisation work better with other cultures and language groups.

1. Health Literacy Essentials (HLE) - Online training

A practical and engaging one hour course to help you understand exactly how you and your organisation can reduce the negative impacts of low health literacy. By highlighting the issues caused by low health literacy, and providing fun and engaging activities this course teaches staff to learn the skills to communicate more effectively with consumers, and actually practice the solutions immediately upon completion.

Course Overview: Health Literacy Essentials

2. Online Health Literacy course 2022

Help your organisation make improvements in consumer participation, client communications and make it easier for clients to find and use your organisation. This is our 18th Health Literacy course, keeping the extensively researched, high-quality learning experience our participants know & love.
This mix of eLearning, webinars & online workshops allows for accessibility and flexibility, and, importantly, time for valuable discussions & activities to explore the health literacy fundamentals in self-paced eLearning units.

Course Overview: Blended Health Literacy Course

3. Health Literacy Primer for Managers

A 20 minute introduction to:

  • What Health Literacy is and a timeline of its development
  • Key documents and ideas you can use to address Health Literacy
  • How executives and managers can address Health Literacy
  • How addressing Health Literacy helps you meet accreditation standards

Course Overview:  Primer for Managers

4. Health Literacy Member’s Page

A site where we collaborate and share resources, including CEH webinars with people who nominate an interest in health literacy, language services or cultural competence. Log in at any time and access the recordings.
Join Us:  Exclusive content

5. Health Literacy Tip-sheets to reach more people with your messaging during COVID-19

Developed by The Inner East Primary Care Partnership (IEPCP) & CEH & available now:
Tip sheet 1 – general tips for both spoken & written communication.
Tip sheet 2 – tips for specifically engaging migrant & refugee communities

View here: Covid-19 Tip-sheets