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Resource development guide

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Resource development guide

Queensland families rely on the information and advice written and distributed by organisations in the child protection sector. The resources you develop – whether they’re printed, online, or interactive – are used by families every day to get the support they need.

This guide will help you to better target your resources at diverse families, including children and adults, as well as people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

A resource is any piece of information that helps a person to understand more about a topic or issue. Resources can be more than factsheets or webpages – they can also include videos, posters, flyers, blogs, social media posts, pictures and even community discussions.

Here are a few take-home tips to begin: 

  • Identify your intended audience and define the key problems or interests
  • Get to know your intended audience to determine their key characteristics, including gender, ethnic background, location, beliefs, behaviours, culture, language and literacy skills and current knowledge of the topic
  • Use plain English, with simple words and sentences, and target your language at the age group of your audience
  • Determine key messages, and be sure to test them with your intended audience to make sure they will be received appropriately
  • Determine the best way to communicate to your intended audience (e.g. print, audio or video)
  • Decide the best way to distribute your resource (e.g. mail, brochures or online).

Message Content

  • Is the most important information at the beginning of the document?
  • Is the most important information also summarised at the end?
  • Have you limited your messages to three to four messages per document (or section)?
  • Have you taken out information that is “nice to know”, but not necessary?
  • Have you identified clear actions for your audience to take?
  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?
  • Have you left out technical language and jargon as much as possible?

Text Appearance

  • Does your document have lots of white space? Are margins at least half an inch?
  • Is the print large enough (at least 12 points)?
  • Have you avoided using capital letters?
  • Is text justified on the left only? Fully justified text is often harder to read.
  • If you used columns, did you include a line length of 40 to 50 characters of space?
  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?


  • Is the cover attractive to your intended audience? Does it include your main message and show who the audience is?
  • Are your visuals simple and instructive rather than decorative?
  • Do visuals help explain the messages found in the text?
  • Are your visuals placed near related text? Do they include captions?
  • If you read only captions, would you learn the main points?
  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?

Layout and Design

  • Is information presented in an order that is logical to your audience?
  • Is information split into clear headings and subheadings? Do lists include bullets?
  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?


  • Are the language and content culturally appropriate?
  • Are the visuals culturally appropriate?
  • Is the translator fluent in the same linguistic variation as the intended audience?
  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?

Making your resource easy to understand

  • Have you tested the complexity of the language used in your material for comprehension?
  • Have you consulted your intended audience before developing the resource?
  • Is technical or scientific language, where used, explained?
  • Have you used short words and sentences, and active voice (i.e. ‘the cat sat on the mat’, rather than ‘the mat was sat on’)?

Is the style conversational?

  • Have you tested your materials with your intended audience?

The clearest way to improve your resource is to make sure you target your audience. The best way to get to know your audience is to have a focussed discussion with the group you are trying to reach. When you do that, here are some hints for collaborating with groups of children and young people at different ages:

0-7 years (early childhood)

  • Use pictures to help support your discussion
  • Have people in the room that support the children regularly
  • Work with day care centres and schools to organise a short meeting with children, supported by teachers.

8-12 years (primary school)

  • Work with schools or community groups to organise a meeting with young people
  • Use language that is easy to understand, and include age-specific content (e.g. references to sports, music or television).

13-18 years (high school)

  • You can use the same strategies as you might use for 8-12 year olds, but mature your content by including references to social media, memes, or other relatable content
  • Provide incentives for attending, such as vouchers or food.

18-25 years (transition to adulthood)

  • Work with community organisations that are already supporting young people and provide them with the option to attend a collaboration session
  • Provide incentives for attending, such as vouchers or food.


  • Collaborate with community support service organisations that regularly work with parents
  • Schedule meetings at times that are likely to be convenient for busy parents
  • Provide incentives for attending, such as vouchers or food.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

  • Work with community leaders or recognised entities to organise your audience to attend, and appropriately frame the discussion
  • Be flexible about the location and time for the meeting to occur
  • Work with community leaders and organisations to support a culturally safe approach to the meeting.

Culturally and linguistically diverse groups

  • Work with community leaders, or organisations such as Multicultural Development Australia and Access Community Services, to connect you with people in diverse communities
  • Collaborate with known cultural groups in the community
  • Your audience may include people with limited ability in English, so simple language and powerful visuals may be critical to get your message across.

Persons with a disability

  • Use a support service to help connect you with your audience
  • Focus on accessibility options for contact with services
  • Work with a support service to ensure content is accessible and relatable.

Persons experiencing mental health issues

  • Collaborate with organisations already working with the audience
  • Make sure your collaboration meeting is supported by an individual the audience trusts, and provide a space that supports the needs of the audience.

To make sure your resource is clearly targeted, you might like to keep the following questions in mind as you write and edit:

  • Do you have a clear aim?
  • Is your target audience clear?
  • Is your resource easy to read?
  • It your resource well-organised, and nicely designed?
  • Is your resource targeted at the intended audience?
  • Is the content balanced and unbiased?
  • Is any critical information missing?
  • Does the draft contain any factual or grammatical errors?
  • Is the language appropriate for your audience?
  • Does the resource promote any harmful or inappropriate behaviours?
  • Does the resource feature practical information that can be implemented straight away?
  • Is information specific to how the child protection system works at present?
  • Have you included ideas to help solve a problem?
  • Does the resource help to dispel myths and misconceptions about the child protection system?
  • Is the publication date clear?
  • Have you included sources to establish the credibility of the information?
  • Does the resource refer readers to other support services or further information?

Note: please refer to your organisation’s procedures in relation to any disclaimers, or legal notices such as copyright, needed in your resource.

To make sure your resource is targeted as clearly as possible to your intended audience, you may wish to consider the following ideas.

Limit the number of messages

It is important to be clear about the main goal or purpose of your resource. Give your audience no more than three or four main ideas per resource, which all support this goal. If you need more ideas, it’s best to divide your resource into discrete sections. Stick to one idea at a time and focus on what your audience needs to know or do. Avoid lengthy lists and long explanations.

Offer the most important information first

Summarise the most important information at the start of your resource. Tell the audience the best actions to take to solve concerns, and explain why the information and actions are important.

Tell audiences what they need to do

Clearly state the actions you want your audience to take. Use simple verbs and concrete nouns (things that you can experience through your five senses). Where possible, use an active voice, where the subject does the action. For example:

  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

Tell your audience what they should do, rather than what they should not do. For example, instead of ‘do not ride your bicycle without wearing a helmet’, write ‘wear your helmet every time you ride your bicycle’.

Tell your audience what they will gain from using the material

Tell your audience how your materials will benefit them. For example:

  • you will learn what your rights are so you can ask your case manager the best questions.

Choose your words carefully

Keep it short. Use words with one or two syllables when you can. If possible, keep most sentences to between eight to ten words, and limit paragraphs to three to five sentences. Write as though you are talking to a friend, as a conversational style has a more natural tone and is easier to understand. Don’t use technical jargon unless it is absolutely necessary, and always explain it first.

Do say: you could get sick if you are near chemicals.

Don’t say: exposure to chemicals could cause adverse health effects.
Although simplicity is a good thing, it is still important to respect and value your audience. Don’t talk down or preach, as people are less likely to act on information if they are made to feel bad about their current behaviour or situation. Use a tone that encourages the audience and emphasise small, practical steps.If your audience is likely to include young people, culturally and linguistically diverse clients, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, or other specific groups, it is best to target your language and visuals to best reach the community you serve.

Visuals help to tell your story

Visual content can help your reader to quickly identify with your content. Your audience may not always be keen to read long sections of text, so audience-targeted pictures, diagrams and cartoons can help your audience to engage with and understand your ideas. Choose the best type of visual for your material. Cartoons may also be used well to convey humour or set a casual tone, but you should use cartoons with caution – not all audiences understand them or take them seriously.