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Content about government policy, ministers and groups - Vic Gov digital guide

Editorial guidelines for content about government policy, ministers and groups.

Strategies, policies and reports

Strategies

Strategies outline the government or agency's plan for what they are going to do for the next 1 to 4 years. PDFs can be provided but they are optional. 

To publish a strategy the team responsible must also commit to providing annual actions updates.

Strategies and policies can be promoted via campaigns.

Strategies and policies should be linked in the strategies and policies section as well as the relevant topic area.

Policies

Policies are sets of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. 'Policy' is a very government-focused word, so we recommend using standards or guidelines instead.

Avoid using the term policy unless it is commonly used e.g. social media policy.

Reports

Reports are produced after an investigation or research into a government initiative. They often contain recommendations.

Annual reports are difficult to fully HTML due to the large number of complex tables in the financial statements section. All sections apart from the financial statements should be provided in HTML.

HTML-first document design

Strategies, policies and reports must be provided in HTML format.

The benefits of having HTML are:

  • most users choose to read the HTML version when HTML and PDF are provided
  • HTML is more discoverable through Google so readership will increase
  • you'll get more data on usage and satisfaction
  • they are accessible - this helps us comply with our responsibility to provide information to all Victorians

PDFs can be provided but they are optional.

You should never create a PDF and then try to retrofit it into a HTML document. Strategies must be released as a HTML document and provided on 1 HTML page. If there is a foreword in a document, this will be published at the end of the page/document instead of the start. This helps users to get straight to the information they need.

When we'll publish Word/PDF documents

We only publish downloadable Word or PDF documents when there is a clear user need to do so. 'Transparency' is not a reason to publish an internal document.

Content for an internal government audience should only be published if:

  • it could be used by another government jurisdiction to improve their way of working
  • vendors, stakeholders or other members of the public will need to use and know about the guidelines

Ministers

As set out in the Digital Standards all ministerial content must serve the public interest and be apolitical.

What this means

If a historic moment has occurred, it's appropriate to mention the relevant minister/s and provide a quote (for example, the State Apology for laws against homosexual acts).

We'll also put any ministerial references through a relevancy check. The place for ministerial releases and content is on the Premier's site so there needs to be a compelling reason to include it (for example, a foreword to a strategic document).

What's not acceptable

According to our style guide we cannot do the following:

  • publish a speech that hasn't been video recorded: there is no demonstrated user need for transcripts of speeches; users don't read them
  • republish a press release: we don't duplicate content. To highlight a press release you can link to it. However, be sure to check if this is necessary. Most people who read media releases are accessing them directly from the Premier's website. The action part of the media release should already be published and available as part of your web content, making the media release itself redundant on your website.

Commissioners

If there is a need for a commissioner to be independent from government then they have the right to set up their own website.

Not all commissioners have the need or resources to maintain their own site. In this case, a page on vic.gov.au is sufficient.

It must include a way to contact the Commissioner.

Advisory groups

Advisory groups are also known as ministerial councils, taskforces and by other names.

For transparency, the group should have a page that outlines what they do, lists all members and provides a way to get in touch with members.

Keep in mind that there is minimal interest from the public in these types of groups. Meeting minutes should not be provided online unless a user need can be demonstrated.

Reviewed 30 September 2019

Vic Gov digital guide

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