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Annual report 2012-13 classification board

CLASSIFICATION BOARD ANNUAL REPORT 2012–13

Director's letter of transmittal

Letter of transmittal 

Director's overview

Lesley O'Brien 

As Director, I am committed to ensuring that the Board continues to operate with public trust and confidence, delivering efficiently on quality, impartial and timely decision-making that is attuned to community standards.

For the first six months of this reporting period, Donald McDonald AC was the Director of the Classification Board. I was appointed as Director on 1 January 2013. Prior to being appointed as Director, I held the office of Deputy Director. I want to thank Mr McDonald for the advice and wisdom he offered to me while I was the Deputy Director.

As Director, I am committed to ensuring that the Board continues to operate with public trust and confidence, delivering efficiently on quality, impartial and timely decision-making that is attuned to community standards, during a period of rapid change in media and entertainment technologies.

I would like to acknowledge the exemplary contribution of all Board members, including temporary Board members, and staff assessors during the reporting period. I would also like to thank those Board members who acted in senior roles throughout the year—Greg Scott, Amanda Apel, Zahid Gamieldien, Moya Glasson and Marit Breivik Andersen.

The reporting period saw the resignation of Board member Georgina Dridan, which took effect on 8 March 2013, just before her term was due to expire. Board member Greg Scott's appointment expired on 2 April 2013. Both of these members served the seven-year statutory term for Board members and made a significant contribution to the work of the Board. I thank them for their contributions. Seven new members were recruited for the temporary Board member register during the reporting period. The temporary Board members can be used in times of peak workload.

During 2012–13, the Classification Board continued to fulfil its statutory duty and role in the National Classification Scheme, working efficiently to classify films, computer games and publications.

The Board's fundamental role is to make classification decisions, with enforcement responsibilities falling primarily to the states and territories. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service regulate imports and exports to and from Australia.

In this reporting year, the Board made 4,487 decisions. This included 4,395 commercial classification decisions, 58 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and 34 classification decisions for enforcement agencies. Every decision was made within the statutory timeframe of 20 days (or five days for priority applications) and I commend the Board on this outcome.

The Classification Board seeks to reflect current community standards when making decisions, however owing to the widely different views held in the community it is not always possible to make decisions which satisfy everyone. The Classification Board welcomes feedback about its decisions. The Correspondence section in this report provides information on those films, computer games and publications which attracted attention during the reporting period.

One of the most significant developments during 2012–13 was the implementation of an R 18+ category for computer games. The R 18+ category for computer games took effect on 1 January 2013, with the introduction of new, separate Computer Games Guidelines, which were reviewed and agreed to by all state and territory ministers who have responsibility for classification matters. The first computer game to receive an R 18+ classification was Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge. This game was classified by the Classification Board on 11 January 2013. Computer games that are classified R 18+ are legally restricted to adults and cannot be sold to minors.

I would like to congratulate the Board on its seamless transition to the new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games on 1 January 2013, and the reasoned judgement it has exercised in its decision-making. I would also like to acknowledge the Attorney-General's Department for the initiatives it undertook in support of the new Computer Games Guidelines, including targeted education, training and communication at both industry and retail level.

Also of note in this reporting period, the Standing Council on Law and Justice met in Darwin in April 2013, where the ministers responsible for classification from the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to implement the first instalment of reforms arising from the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) review of the National Classification Scheme.

I, as Deputy Director, took part in the Classification Officers Standing Committee teleconference on 7 September 2012, which is a forum for officers to discuss policy matters before they are taken to the Standing Council on Law and Justice. Even though the Board is not responsible for classification policy matters, we are an important stakeholder and, as Director, I continue to value the opportunity to be present at such meetings.

During the reporting period, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at a Budget Estimates hearing on 29 May 2013 where I answered a number of questions, including those relating to the new Computer Game Guidelines, the new R 18+ computer games category, and classification decisions on computer games generally.

The Board has continued its practice of auditing serial classifications issued to publications. Serial classification declarations are made under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act). The Classification Act allows the Board to declare that the classification granted to a publication also applies to:

  1. all future issues; or
  2. a specified number of future issues; or
  3. all future issues published within a specified period.

During the reporting period, 41 publications were audited. One publication had its serial classification revoked as a result of the audit.

Only one of the Classification Board's decisions was reviewed by the Classification Review Board in 2012–13. The Classification Board's decision to classify the film Behind the Candelabra MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong themes and sex scenes' was overturned by the Classification Review Board which classified the film M with consumer advice of 'drug use, coarse language and sex scenes'.

The Department has continued to review its systems which assist the Classification Board to do its work. During the reporting period, further improvements to the workflow management system were made which provided for greater assistance in the management of workload. On 2 November 2012, the new Australian Classification website was launched. The website is designed to be more intuitive and 'user friendly', allowing members of the public as well as industry and enforcement agencies to access resources and information such as classification decisions, media releases and classification markings. Most significantly, the public can now access a classification matrix which shows the strength of all classifiable elements in the item, and can view consumer advice in search results.

To further assist the Board in continuing to make decisions that are good in law, the Board attended an in-house seminar on Administrative Law on 17 April 2013, undertaken by legal officers from the Administrative Law unit of the Attorney General's Department.

During the reporting period, representatives of the Board attended several conferences regarding classification issues as they relate to new and emerging technologies.

On 6 June 2013, I spoke at the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA) conference Classification and the Time-Shifting Audience as part of its Citizen Conversations series, informing its Community Safeguards inquiry. Other speakers included Chris Chapman, Chairman of ACMA; Professor Terry Flew, Professor of Media and Communications, Queensland University of Technology, Commissioner in charge of the ALRC National Classification Scheme Review; Dr Wayne Warburton, Deputy Director of the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University; and Barbara Biggins, Honorary CEO, Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM).

On 30 May 2013, the ACCM hosted a seminar titled Grand Theft Brainspace? Games, Apps & Mobiles—Issues & Practical Strategies, attended by Classification Board members Tennille Burdon and Moya Glasson.

On 13 June 2013, Classification Board members Marit Breivik Anderson and Lance Butler attended a panel discussion hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission titled Human Rights and Video Games. The panel discussed important issues such as racial stereotyping and the depiction of women in video games, the associations made between games and violence, and bullying in online gaming.

In August 2012, Classification Board member Greg Scott and I attended the Australian International Movie Convention in Queensland where topics such as the impact of new digital streaming technologies and the challenges facing the film screening industry were discussed.

During the reporting period, the Classification Board continued to liaise with stakeholders both at home and abroad. Meetings were held with various industry bodies including the Film Exhibition and Distribution Code Committee; the New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body; the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia; and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), including attending an iGEA industry briefing, 'Outlook Australian Entertainment & Media'.

The Classification Board also values its relationships with international organisations and, in June 2013, welcomed a delegation from South Africa's Film and Publication Board to discuss classification matters.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the cooperation and hard work of the staff from the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General's Department who continue to provide a high quality secretariat service to the Classification Board. I would like to thank both them and the Board for their dedication and professionalism throughout this financial year.

Lesley O'Brien
Director
Classification Board

Classification Board members not pictured—Donald McDonald AC (term as Director expired
31 December 2012), Greg Scott (term as Senior Classifier expired 2 April 2013), and Georgina Dridan
(resigned 8 March 2013). 

Back: Left to Right—Serena Jakob, Lance Butler, Marit Breivik Andersen, Zahid Gamieldien, Tennille Burdon.

Front: Left to Right—Moya Glasson, Lesley O'Brien, Amanda Apel.

Classification Board members not pictured—Donald McDonald AC (term as Director expired 31 December 2012), Greg Scott (term as Senior Classifier expired 2 April 2013), and Georgina Dridan (resigned 8 March 2013).

Classification Board profiles

Lesley O'Brien 

LESLEY O'BRIEN

Director
APPOINTED 1 January 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 December 2015

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 31 January 2011

Before taking up the position of Director of the Classification Board, Ms Lesley O'Brien, 46, was Deputy Director of the Classification Board for two years. She has over 25 years' experience as a journalist and publishing manager, most recently as a Senior Executive at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as General Manager of ABC Publishing (Books, Magazines and Audio), and previously, as editor of a leading Australian magazine food title. Ms O'Brien, who holds a Bachelor of Economics, has also worked in communications roles in the NSW public service, in radio news, and is a published book author.

Ms O'Brien is an active participant at her local tennis club, is a member of a local resident committee, and has a daughter at university and a 15-year-old step-son.

Marit Breivik Andersen 

MARIT BREIVIK ANDERSEN

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Ms Marit Breivik Andersen, 45, is married with three children and lives in Lane Cove, New South Wales.

She has a Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Journalism from the University of Wollongong. Originally from Norway, Marit migrated to Australia in 1990. Marit has been a member of the Classification Board since 2007, initially as a temporary member, until joining as a full-time member in 2011. Prior to this she worked as a journalist, executive producer, translator and subtitler with SBS radio and television. Marit maintains a close ongoing relationship with the Norwegian-speaking community in Australia. She continues to have close ties with her local community through her children's school activities and their sporting and musical interests.

Marit has particularly strong involvement in the administration of basketball, including managing several teams and serving as a tribunal member with a local association. She also volunteers at the local primary school assisting with school reading programs. Her interests include cycling, media, art, music and basketball.

Amanda Apel 

AMANDA APEL

Board member
APPOINTED 3 April 2009
REAPPOINTED 3 April 2012
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 2 April 2015

Amanda Apel, 50, was raised in Sydney and has since lived and worked in a number of Australian states and territories as well as abroad. Her working life has encompassed the fields of advertising, photography, business and sports administration, tourism and primary industry. Amanda's diverse professional experience, study and extensive travel have allowed her insight into a variety of cultures and social issues.

Prior to taking up her appointment to the Classification Board in 2009, Amanda held the position of executive officer for Swimming Northern Territory in Darwin, a position that relied on close ties to youth sports and the community at large.

Amanda now lives in Sydney where her time away from the office is dedicated to the activities of her teenage children. She maintains an interest in art, photography, writing and film.

Tennille Burdon 

TENNILLE BURDON

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Tennille Burdon is 33 and comes from Tasmania. Tennille holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and is completing a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. She has worked as a professional psychologist in various settings since 2002 including as a School Psychologist with the Department of Education in Tasmania. This employment has brought her into contact with a particularly broad range of families in different regions and from a very wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.

Raised in New Norfolk in southern Tasmania, Tennille has also taught ballet and contemporary dance since 1999, instructing both children and adults. She is interested in live theatre, dance and is also a lover of art.

Lance Butler 

LANCE BUTLER

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Lance Butler, 41, comes from Springvale in Victoria. With diplomas in Business Management and Human Resources, Lance has worked as a team leader and trainer for Woolworths Logistics in the Melbourne National Distribution Centre for the past ten years. Prior to this, he worked in a variety of roles in the warehousing industry and as a stable foreman for a racehorse trainer.

Lance grew up in Melbourne's inner city suburb of Collingwood and has been closely involved with a not-for-profit community organisation, the Collingwood Children's Farm, for over 25 years. The farm encourages city children to participate in an outdoor lifestyle by learning about plants, animals and the cycles of nature. His involvement began as a child visiting the farm and extended to employment as a staff member and more recently contributing to its development as an elected member of the management committee with particular involvement in its fundraising efforts.

Lance has travelled extensively internationally and enjoys learning about different cultures. He has a passion for hiking, exploring our national parks and enjoying the outdoors. He also has a keen interest in environmental issues and a sustainable future.

Zahid Gamieldien 

ZAHID GAMIELDIEN

Board member
APPOINTED 18 May 2009
REAPPOINTED 18 May 2012
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 17 May 2015

Zahid Gamieldien, 28, was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of three. He grew up in Bankstown and currently resides with his spouse in Sydney's inner west.

Zahid holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) and a Bachelor of Laws. His previous employment in a migration law firm deepened his understanding of the legal issues and personal hardships of migrants and their families. He has also worked as a writer, with his work appearing in various publications. Prior to his appointment to the Classification Board in 2009, he practised as a solicitor for a subscription television company.

Zahid's education and employment background contributes broad cultural experience and community awareness to the Board. He has a strong interest in literature, football and films.

Moya Glasson 

MOYA GLASSON

Board member
APPOINTED 6 April 2009
REAPPOINTED 6 April 2012
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 5 April 2015

Moya Glasson, 57, holds a Bachelor of Education degree and relocated from Western Australia to take up her position with the Board. Moya taught in a number of metropolitan-area, regional and remote public schools across Western Australia. After teaching for more than three years on the Cocos Islands, Moya received a scholarship from the Department of Education and Training in Western Australia to complete a semester of language and cultural studies at the Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta, as part of a Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies.

Moya has taught migrant and refugee students in Intensive English Centres in Perth as well as in schools, colleges and universities in Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea.

Moya has worked in programs to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and migrant students as well as inter-department initiatives to support refugees and ethnic communities.

Moya, whose main interests are travel and languages, comes from a large extended family and has connections to a range of educational institutions, sporting clubs and other interest groups across Western Australia in areas as diverse as dance, Aus-Kick and volunteer radio.

Serena Jakob 

SERENA JAKOB

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Serena Jakob is 40 and, prior to joining the Classification Board, lived in Adelaide in South Australia. She grew up in small community on the Eyre Peninsula and has a background in Cultural Anthropology and Education. Serena has worked in metropolitan, rural and remote communities throughout Australia. Serena has specialised in program development and ethnographic research for education projects based throughout remote indigenous communities. From 2000, she has worked for the Department of Education and Children's Services as part of Wiltja, a program that offers Aboriginal adolescents from the remote communities within the Pitjantjatjara Lands the opportunity to access mainstream secondary education in an urban setting. Serena has been a volunteer and committee member with the Southern Districts Junior Soccer Association since 2002, where she was involved in organising soccer carnivals and coaching clinics for primary aged children. She has been a volunteer with the Adelaide Film Festival and has participated in numerous community arts events particularly indigenous art and cultural festivals.

Serena has also worked with the UK-based interactive digital artists, Blast Theory. Serena enjoys learning about other cultures and has travelled extensively throughout Australia, North and Central America, Indonesia and Eastern Europe. Her interests include tennis, electronic music, technology, cycling, culture, travel and adventure.

Members who left the Classification Board in 2012–13

Donald McDonald 

DONALD MCDONALD AC

Director
APPOINTED 1 May 2007
REAPPOINTED 1 October 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 31 December 2012

Donald McDonald joined the Classification Board as its Director on 1 May 2007. His previous positions include Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1996 to 2006, Chief Executive of The Australian Opera (now Opera Australia) from 1987 to 1996 and General Manager of the Sydney Theatre Company from 1980 to 1986.

He is Chairman of The Australiana Fund and Chairman of The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific Pty Ltd.

He has served on numerous boards, including as Director of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG). He was Chairman of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation, a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney, a member of the Australian Tourist Commission and a director of the University of NSW Foundation.

Donald McDonald was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1991, and made a Companion of the Order in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of NSW (1961) and was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from that University in 2004. He was a Visiting Fellow of the University of Edinburgh in 1993.

He is married to Janet McDonald AO. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

Greg Scott 

GREG SCOTT

Board member
APPOINTED 3 April 2006
REAPPOINTED 3 April 2009

Senior Classifier
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 2 April 2013

Greg Scott, 34, was raised in Possum Brush, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

Greg joined the Royal Australian Navy on completion of his secondary education. He served nine years as a Combat Systems Operator and now remains a Leading Seaman Reservist.

During his time in the Royal Australian Navy, Greg had the opportunity to serve both locally and internationally, travelling throughout South East Asia and the Middle East. He served onboard HMAS Perth, a now decommissioned guided missile destroyer, and more recently HMAS Melbourne, a guided missile frigate. During this time onboard HMAS Melbourne, he was involved in two operational deployments to the Persian Gulf, where he acted as an Electronic Warfare Director, specialising in above water warfare and anti-ship missile defence.

Prior to his naval service, Greg was an indoor cricket umpire in junior competitions which allowed him to become closely involved with children and their families. His interests include cricket, rugby league, fish-keeping, reading and drawing. He currently resides in Sydney with his wife and young children.

Georgina Dridan 

GEORGINA DRIDAN

Board member
APPOINTED 3 April 2006
REAPPOINTED 3 April 2009
RESIGNED 8 March 2013

Georgina Dridan, 42, comes from Victoria where she trained for several years in television production and broadcasting and worked extensively as a local producer and researcher with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV) in Melbourne and internationally, with CanWest Media and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the eastern Canadian provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec. Upon her return to Australia, Georgina continued her work with the ABC as deputy programmer and acquisitions manager with the ABC's digital networks.

Georgina has travelled extensively throughout Europe and North America and, prior to her Board appointment, worked in advisory positions for state government regional employment, training and cultural programs. She presently resides in regional New South Wales and enjoys a continued interest in production and distribution of film and television content, as a participant in film and television markets and festivals and via her local involvement in regional community arts festivals and recreational programs.

Temporary Board members

Under the Classification Act, the minister has delegated a power to the Director to appoint a person to be a temporary member of the Classification Board. A register of people suitable for temporary appointments is maintained and drawn on from time to time to provide short-term assistance in handling the workload of the Classification Board. Terms of appointment may be as short as one day and may extend to three months.

Samantha Arnull

Samantha has a background in visual art and works with found objects, photography and installation. Samantha completed a Master of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle, which incorporated study at the Bauhaus University, Germany. Samantha has worked as a collaborator in production design for theatre, dance and performance. She has worked in museums and galleries as an artist's assistant and installer for Australian and international artists both in Australia and overseas. Samantha has experience in teaching and writing creative programs for both primary and secondary schools in visual arts. Since 2010 Samantha has been teaching visual arts education at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney.

Always maintaining her practice as an artist, Samantha has travelled to India making documentary films and exploring the immense artistic talents and culture of people living in rural southern India.

Samantha worked 6 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Emma Ashton

Emma Ashton is a 43-year-old mother of two young children who currently lives in Sydney. She grew up in the country and she studied nursing at university. After working as a nurse, both in Australia and overseas, she started working in politics and later in policy in the public service. She is currently a blogger. Emma is involved in her local community through her children's school and childcare centre, as well as being involved in other community groups. She is also involved in online communities and is in continual contact with a variety people discussing a wide range of issues from all over Australia.

Emma worked 9 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Graeme Bradley

Graeme Bradley, 65, began his career in the Commonwealth Bank followed by two years' national service in the Australian Army as a communications specialist. He then joined Telstra and worked in the field of telecommunications and IT for thirty-five years. This included secondments to Saudi Arabia, USA and Malaysia. Graeme spent five years working on the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympics Games, whilst being a member of the NSW Paralympics Committee for four years. Graeme lives in Sydney with his wife and son.

Graeme worked 33 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Emma Bromley

Emma Bromley, 39, is married with two children. A former high school teacher, she has held numerous positions within the Australian Public Service including film policy and telecommunications funding. She also held a number of positions within the then Office of Film and Literature Classification. Emma has recently become the President of her local school's P&C Association. Her interests include photography, craft and writing.

Emma worked 16 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Dianne Doratis

Dianne, 64, joined the Classification Board as a temporary member in September 2007. A first generation Greek-Australian, Dianne worked as a clinical psychologist in government and private practice, specialising in children and families. Dianne retired from work as a psychologist but continued to work as a guardian in various court jurisdictions. Married with three adult daughters, Dianne returned to Sydney after eighteen years living near Newcastle to take up her appointment to the Classification Board. Her interests include music, singing, film, theatre, reading and food.

Dianne worked 29 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Wayne Garrett

Wayne, 58, holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Science and a Ph D in Radiation Chemistry. He was a principal research scientist at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and represented the Australian Government as Counsellor (Nuclear) based at the Australian High Commission in London. He was also involved in international programs to secure radioactive material from illicit uses, as well as to transfer peaceful uses of nuclear technology to developing countries in South East Asia.

Wayne lives with his wife and daughter in Sydney, but grew up in Queensland. He is actively involved in his daughter's school community and sporting programs. Wayne has also lived and worked in Sweden, Japan and the United Kingdom and has wide experience with people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds.

Wayne worked 5 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Geoff Geraghty

Geoff Geraghty, 60, has had an extensive and wide ranging career with the Australian Military. He has been active within the community through various school associations and local community initiatives. He recently served as a community member with the NSW Bar Association. He is currently involved with the Young Endeavour Youth Sail Training Scheme and the Australian Navy Cadets. Geoff is married with three adult children and one grandchild.

Geoff worked 8 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Benjamin May

Benjamin May, 33, began his career as a film projectionist at several multi-screen cinema complexes. He then joined Foxtel where he worked in broadcast operations before being appointed as Programming Manager for various subscription television channels and new media services. During this time he gained strong knowledge of the classification process and broad community standards. His interests include film, music and live comedy.

Benjamin worked 15 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Vijay Narisetty

Vijay Narisetty, 45, was born in Hyderabad, India and migrated to Australia in 1996. He is a former NSW police officer and has extensive experience working within our community. He is married with two young children and loves travelling, cooking and films.

Vijay worked 6 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Greg Randall

Greg Randall, 52, has thirty-five years' experience in policing and criminal investigation within the New South Wales Police Force and other law enforcement agencies. He gained expertise in targeting, leading and commanding covert, complex and sensitive investigations into organised crime, as well as corruption in state, national and international jurisdictions. He attained the commissioned rank of detective inspector and received numerous awards and commendations, including the selection of participating in an international exchange program with the London Metropolitan Police.

Greg is married with two teenage children. His interests include overseas travel, water and snow sports, politics and world affairs.

Greg worked 6 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Nathan Whitta

Nathan Whitta, 35, worked as a combat systems operator in the navy for eight years, serving in two sea postings before discharging. He then studied a Bachelor of Science, majoring in geology, at Macquarie University before working as a coal exploration geologist.

Nathan has volunteered as a primary ethics teacher at the school his children attend and is currently studying at Macquarie University with the intention of becoming a high school teacher. He lives with his spouse and two young children.

Nathan worked 9 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Leanne Wilson-O'Connor

Leanne Wilson-O'Connor, 39, is currently employed as a television classifier. She previously worked for over eleven years as an Aboriginal education officer at a charitable institution providing respite care for children in need. Leanne has travelled extensively around Australia and has spent time living and working in remote Aboriginal communities. She has been a member of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and is a member of her local Aboriginal Land Council.

Leanne worked 10 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Sue Zelinka

Sue Zelinka, 63, began her career in ABC Television where she researched, directed and produced documentary films on a range of topics in both the arts and social sciences. After running her own research company, she joined the Human Rights Commission as a senior policy officer. Sue was appointed as a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal in 1997 and served there for ten years. She maintains an active involvement in the International Association of Refugee Law Judges and edits its international newsletter.

Sue worked 16 days as a temporary Board member during 2012–13.

Statistics

There are statutory time limits for the making of classification decisions—20 days for standard applications and five days for priority applications.

Key achievements

  • The Classification Board made 4,487 classification decisions in 2012–13, including 4,395 commercial classification decisions, 58 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and 34 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.
  • No decisions exceeded the statutory time limit of 20 days for standard applications and five days for a priority application.

Timeliness of decisions

In 2012–13, all decisions on commercial applications were made within the statutory time limits. A breakdown of these figures follows:

Table 01: Timeliness of decisions on commercial applications by application type
Application type
No. of decisions made within statutory time limits
Film (public exhibition)
509
Film (sale/hire)
2,214
Film (sale/hire)—ACA
227
Film (sale/hire)—ATSA
507
Computer games
695
Publications (including serial declarations)
243
Assessment of likely classification—film
24
Assessment of likely classification—computer games
1
Internet content
58

Classification Board workload

In 2012–13, the Classification Board made 4,487 classification decisions. The Classification Board and the Director also make other decisions which are not classification decisions. A breakdown of these decisions is in the table below:

Table 02: Decisions
Classification Decisions
Decisions
Film (public exhibition)
509
Film (sale/hire)
2,214
Film (sale/hire)—ACA
227
Film (sale/hire)—ATSA
507
Computer games
695
Publications
203
Serial publication declarations
40
Internet content
58
Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service)
34
Other decisions (not classification decisions)
 
Assessment of likely classification—film
24
Assessment of likely classification—computer games
1
S87 Certificates
5
Film festival exemptions
609
Fee waiver applications
18
Revocation of classification
1
Decline to deal
1

Comparison with last year's workload

Compared with the 2011–12 reporting period, the number of:

  • classification decisions decreased from 5,706 to 4,487 (a decrease of 21 per cent)
  • classification decisions made decreased in all application categories except for publications which increased from 193 to 203 (an increase of five per cent)

The continued decrease in standard classification decisions made for films for sale/hire was much slighter, 2,325 to 2,214 (a decrease of five per cent), accompanied by similar decreases in decisions made on Additional Content Assessor (ACA) and Authorised Television Series Assessor (ATSA) Schemes applications (seven and three per cent respectively). Overall, decisions made for films for sale/hire decreased by five per cent.

Quality decision-making

The Classification Board employs a number of practices and procedures to ensure quality of decision-making:

  • regular internal meetings are held to ensure issues on current standards are communicated and a forum is provided to debate and discuss classification standards and maintain a consistent approach to decision-making
  • interchange between the Classification Board and the Classification Branch ensures the Classification Board's standards are reflected in training programs provided by the Classification Branch for industry assessors; and
  • standardised internal procedures for managing applications.

Publications

The Classification Board made 243 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 203 single issue publication classifications and 40 serial declarations.

Table 03: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification
Classification
Classification decisions
Unrestricted
48
Category 1 restricted
132
Category 2 restricted
22
RC
1

 

Table 04: Commercial (single issue) publications applications refused classification by reason
Reason1
Number
Publications RC 1(a)
1
Publications RC 1(b)
0
Publications RC 1(c)
0
Publications RC 1(a) & 1(b)
0

As indicated in Figure 01, 65 per cent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 restricted. Eleven per cent were Category 2 restricted and 24 per cent were Unrestricted. One publication was classified RC.

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions 

Serial classification declarations for publications

The Classification Act provides that the Classification Board may declare that the classification granted for an original issue applies to future issues of a publication for a specified period or number of issues. The Classification Board must have regard to the Classification (Serial Publications) Principles 2005 in deciding whether to grant a serial classification declaration.

Table 05: Serial classification declarations granted by classification
Classification
Declarations granted
Unrestricted
2
Category 1 restricted
34
Category 2 restricted
4
RC
0

The Classification Board audits publications granted a serial classification declaration. In 2012–13, one publication had its serial classification revoked.

As indicated in Figure 02, 85 percent of serial classification declarations were for Category 1 restricted publications, ten percent were Category 2 restricted publications and five percent were Unrestricted publications. None were classified RC.

Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations

Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations 

Films classified for public exhibition

The Classification Board made 509 decisions on applications for the classification of commercial films for public exhibition.

Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition
Classification
Classification decisions
G
27
PG
99
M
239
MA 15+
137
R 18+
7
X 18+
0
RC
0

As indicated in Figure 03, 72 percent of public exhibition film classifications during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the M category.

Figure 03: Decisions on films classified for public exhibition

Figure 03: Decisions on films classified for public exhibition 

Films classified for sale/hire

The Classification Board made 2,948 decisions on applications for classification of commercial films for sale/hire. These figures include applications made under the ACA and ATSA Schemes.

Table 07: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire
Classification
Classification decisions
G
442
PG
622
M
848
MA 15+
707
R 18+
61
X 18+
257
RC
11

 

Table 08: Commercial films classified for sale/hire refused classification by reason
Reason2
Number
Films RC 1(a)
10
Films RC 1(b)
0
Films RC 1(c)
0
Films RC 1(a) & 1(b)
1

As indicated in Figure 04, approximately 65 percent of classifications of films for sale/hire during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the M category.

The Classification Board classified 11 commercial films for sale/hire RC. This represents 0.37 percent of the total number of the films for sale/hire submitted for classification.

Figure 04: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire (including ACA and ATSA)

Figure 04: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire (including ACA and ATSA) 

Under the ACA Scheme, applications that comprise previously classified or exempt film/s plus additional content (e.g. additional scenes, Director's commentary, out-takes, etc.) can be accompanied by a recommendation from a trained and authorised assessor on the appropriate classification and consumer advice for the additional content.

Under the ATSA Scheme, applications that comprise certain television series and series related material can also be accompanied by a report from an authorised assessor including a recommended classification and consumer advice. Applications submitted under the Scheme generally attract a lower fee.

Under both Schemes, the Classification Board is still responsible for the classification of the film, but its decision may be informed by the assessor's report and classification recommendation.

Computer games

The Classification Board made 695 decisions on applications for computer games.

Table 09: Commercial computer games decisions by classification
Classification
Classification decisions
G
291
PG
203
M
114
MA 15+
68
R 18+
17
RC
2

Eighty seven percent of computer game classifications during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the G category.

The Classification Board classified two computer games RC during the reporting period.

Figure 05: Computer game classification decisions

Figure 05: Computer game classification decisions 

Table 10: Commercial computer games applications refused classification by reason3
Reason3
Number
Games RC 1(a)
2
Games RC 1(b)
0
Games RC 1(c)
0
Games RC 1(d)
0
Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b)
0

Other applications

Exemptions to show unclassified films and computer games

There is general information about exemptions in the overview of the National Classification Scheme on page 3.

During 2012–13, the Director finalised 609 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films or computer games at film festivals and special film or computer game events. The Director refused an exemption for four films within three of these applications. There were 475 finalised in the previous reporting period, meaning that in this reporting period, there has been a 28 percent increase in exemption applications.

Advertisements

The Classification Board did not receive any applications for approval of advertisements under section 29 of the Classification Act.

Advertising assessments

The Scheme for advertising of unclassified films and computer games allows advertising subject to conditions set out in the Classification (Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme) Determination 2009.

One of the conditions is a 'commensurate audience rule' to ensure that unclassified films and computer games are only advertised to an appropriate audience. For this purpose, the likely classification of an unclassified film or computer game must be assessed before it is advertised with already classified material, and it may only be advertised with material that has been classified the same or higher than its assessed likely classification. The assessment of likely classification can be made by the Board on application, or by an appropriately trained and authorised industry assessor.

During the reporting period, the Board made 24 assessments of the likely classification of films and one assessment of the likely classification of a computer game.

Certificates of exemption for films or computer games

Certain categories of films and computer games are exempt from classification under the Classification Act. The Board may grant a certificate stating that a film or computer game is exempt from classification under section 28B of the Classification Act. The Classification (Markings for Certified Exempt Films and Computer Games) Determination 2007 establishes the exempt markings. Only computer games and films certified as exempt from classification by the Classification Board can display these exempt markings.

The Classification Board did not receive any applications to certify films or computer games as exempt from classification during the reporting period.

Fee waivers

The Classification Act allows the Director to waive all or part of fees payable under the Classification Act in specific circumstances, such as where it is in the public interest to do so for public health or educational reasons. There are also fee waiver provisions for non-profit organisations and for special interest material with a limited distribution in some circumstances (e.g. a short film from a new or emerging film maker) and where, in the Director's opinion, it is in the public interest to waive all or part of the fee. The Director granted 18 fee waivers during the reporting period. There were no refused applications for fee waivers.

Table 11: Fee waiver applications granted
Film (public exhibition)
Fee waivers granted
Full fee waiver
14
50% fee waiver
0
75% fee waiver
0
Fee waiver refused
0
Film (for sale/hire)
 
Full fee waiver
3
50% fee waiver
1
75% fee waiver
0
Fee waiver refused
0
Computer game
 
Full fee waiver
0
50% fee waiver
0
75% fee waiver
0
Fee waiver refused
0
Publication
 
Full fee waiver
0
50% fee waiver
0
75% fee waiver
0
Fee waiver refused
0

Classification services for the public good

In addition to making classification decisions about material for commercial release, the Classification Board also:

  • classifies films, publications and computer games for enforcement agencies, such as state and territory police4, and
  • classifies material on application for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Enforcement agencies

The Classification Board classifies films, publications and computer games submitted by enforcement agencies, such as state and territory police. These classification decisions are often used in legal proceedings undertaken by the agency involved.

There were no enforcement applications for public exhibition films or computer games in 2012–13.

Table 12: Enforcement application decisions by agency
Enforcement agency
Publications
Films
Section 87 certificates5
Total
Australian Federal Police
0
0
0
0
ACT Office of Fair Trading
0
0
0
0
NSW Police
10
0
0
10
NT Police
0
0
3
3
Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading
4
0
0
4
Victoria Police
0
2
2
4
SA Police
0
0
0
0
Tasmania Police
0
0
0
0
WA Police
3
0
0
3
Australian Defence Forces Investigative Services (ADFIS)
0
0
0
0
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
15
0
0
15

Internet content

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from the ACMA. Internet content is shown tables 13 and 14.

Table 13: Internet content decisions by classification
Classification
Classification decisions
G
0
PG
4
M
3
MA 15+
17
R 18+
10
X 18+
2
RC
22
Unrestricted
0
Table 14: Internet content refused classification by reason
Reason6
Number
Film RC 1(a)
4
Film RC 1(b)
0
Film RC 1(c)
3
Film RC 1(d)
0
Film RC 1(a) & 1(b)
14
Film RC 1(a) & 1(c)
1
S 9A (2) (c)
0

Decisions

Publications

Only 'submittable publications' must be classified before they can legally be advertised or distributed in Australia.

Section 5 of the Classification Act defines a submittable publication as:

  • an unclassified publication that, having regard to section 9A or to the Code and the classification guidelines to the extent that they relate to publications, contains depictions or descriptions that:
    1. are likely to cause the publication to be classified RC; or
    2. are likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult to the extent that the publication should not be sold or displayed as an unrestricted publication; or
    3. are unsuitable for a minor to see or read.

It is the responsibility of distributors to ensure that they meet classification requirements for publications. The enforcement legislation in some states and territories provides that it is an offence to sell or deliver a submittable publication that has not been classified.

The Classification Act provides the Director of the Classification Board with the power to call in a publication for classification if the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that it is a submittable publication and that the publication is being published in the ACT. State and territory classification enforcement legislation provides the Director with power to call in material from their jurisdictions.

Classifications

There are four classifications for publications—Unrestricted, Category 1 restricted, Category 2 restricted and RC Refused Classification.

The Guidelines for the Classification of Publications are used by the Classification Board when classifying publications. They explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category.

Unrestricted

Unrestricted 

Unrestricted M (Mature) 

The Unrestricted classification covers a wide range of material. Unrestricted publications may contain classifiable elements such as sex and nudity with some detail but the impact should not be so strong as to require legal restriction to adults.

A special consideration of the Classification Board in classifying publications is the suitability of covers for public display. There are specific criteria for the assessment of covers, which specify that the impact of any descriptions or depictions and references on covers should be low. This accords with one of the principles of the Code, namely that everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they may find offensive. The impact of covers of 'Unrestricted' publications will be low.

Generally, there are no restrictions on the sale or display of Unrestricted publications. However, the Classification Board can apply consumer advice not recommending the publication for readers under 15.

During the reporting period, a total of 243 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publications. This figure includes 40 serial publication declarations.

Out of the total of 243 classification decisions for publications, 48 single issue publications and two serial publications were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2012–13 include People and The Picture.

Category 1 restricted

Category restricted R 

Restricted Category 1 R 

During the reporting period, of the total of 243 publications classified (including 40 serial publication declarations), 132 single issue publications and 34 serial publications were classified Category 1 restricted.

Category 1 restricted publications may include detailed realistic depictions of nudity, realistic depictions of sexual excitement and detailed descriptions of sexual activity between consenting adults.

Category 1 restricted publications can only be sold to persons 18 years of age and over and must be displayed in a sealed wrapper. The Classification Board can impose a further condition that the sealed wrapper is made of opaque material.

Category 1 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland. Titles of Category 1 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2012–13 include Club International, The Picture Premium, Razzle and Hustler.

Category 2 restricted

Category 2 restricted 

Restricted category 2 

During the reporting period, of the total of 243 publications classified (including 40 serial publication declarations), 22 single issue publications and four serial publications were classified Category 2 restricted.

Category 2 restricted publications may include realistic depictions of actual sexual activity involving consenting adults. They may also include descriptions and depictions of stronger fetishes than those which can be accommodated at the Category 1 restricted classification.

Category 2 restricted publications can only be sold to persons 18 years of age and over and can only be displayed in restricted premises. Category 2 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland. Titles of Category 2 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2012–13 include The Australian Rosie, Harmony XXX and The Australasian Sexpaper.

RC Refused Classification

Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total of 243 publications classified (including 40 serial declarations), one publication was classified RC.

Serial classifications for publications

On application, the Classification Board can issue a serial classification declaration. This means that a classification (and conditions, if applicable) given to one issue of a periodical will apply to a specified number of future issues of the same periodical. Publishers must ensure that the future issues do not have content at a higher level than the serial declaration allows.

During the reporting period, 40 periodicals were granted a serial classification declaration. All of these declarations were granted for a 12-month period.

The Classification Board audits publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, 41 audits were undertaken.

After failing an audit, one publication had its serial classification revoked during 2012–13.

Once a serial classification is revoked, the audited issue and all future issues become unclassified. The publisher must then submit each issue for classification, or apply for another serial classification declaration, before they can sell the publication.

If the Classification Board revokes the serial classification of a title, law enforcement agencies are notified as it is generally an offence to sell an unclassified submittable publication in the Australian states and territories.

Films and computer games

During the first half of the reporting period, decisions for films and computer games were made using the combined Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games.

From 1 January 2013, decisions for films were made using Guidelines for the Classification of Films and decisions for computer games were made using Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games (the guidelines).

Both sets of guidelines explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category. A number of principles underlie the use of the guidelines, including interactivity, the importance of context and assessing the impact of the six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity).

The guidelines also provide a single set of symbols for both films and computer games to help consumers decide what they and those in their care will watch and play.

G classification 

Films

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 469 films were classified G.

The G classification is for a general audience. While many films at the G classification are targeted towards children, it does not necessarily mean that children will enjoy all films classified G. Some material that is classified G may be of no interest to children such as some documentaries or particular music DVDs. Popular G films classified during the reporting period include Monsters University, Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away, A Monster in Paris and Finding Nemo 3D.

The computer-animated film Monsters University was classified G by the Classification Board. The film is a light-hearted comedy about two monsters named Mike and Sully who have to join together to compete in a series of challenges called the Scare Games in order to regain their places in Monster University. In the Classification Board's view, the film contains themes that have a very low sense of threat and/or menace and which are justified by context. For example, when Mike and Scully are trapped in the human realm, they devise a number of pranks to scare human police officers in order to generate enough energy from human screams to power the door which links the human and monster realms. The film also contains infrequent use of very mild coarse language. Both 2D and 3D versions of the film were classified by the Classification Board. It is a requirement under the Classification Act to have both formats classified.

The Classification Board also classified 2D and 3D versions of the film Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away. The film follows the adventures of a girl who falls in love with a circus performer. They fall into the magical world of Cirque Du Soleil and are separated, and so search for each other through various magical lands until they are re-united. There is no dialogue or commentary in the film, which tells its story through music and dazzling gymnastic and aerialist displays. The film contains depictions of themes and violence which, in the view of the Classification Board, do not exceed a very mild level of viewing impact. Examples include stylised 'fight' sequences told through balletic and gymnastic displays and depictions of high leaps and stick-twirling accompanied by rhythmic drumming. The film was therefore classified G by the Classification Board.

Another computer-animated film classified by the Classification Board was A Monster in Paris. The film, set in Paris in the early 20th century, tells the story of a kind-hearted giant flea who is accidentally released into the streets of Paris. In the Classification Board's view, the film contains depictions of animated violence that can be accommodated within the G classification.

Although not mandatory at G, the Classification Board may include consumer advice in order to assist consumers and parents to make more informed choices for themselves and those in their care. In the case of A Monster in Paris, the Classification Board classified the film G with consumer advice of 'very mild violence'.

In the reporting period, the Classification Board classified a modified 3D version of the popular 2003 computer-animated film Finding Nemo. The film follows a timid clownfish who sets off to find his son Nemo who was captured by a diver on the Great Barrier Reef and is stuck in a fish tank in a dentist's surgery in Sydney. The modified version of the film also contains a short animated feature titled Partysaurus Rex. The original version of Finding Nemo was classified G by the Classification Board in 2003 with consumer advice of 'some scenes may frighten young children'. In the Classification Board's view, the 3D format of the modified version of the film and other modifications to the film do not contain any classifiable elements that alter the classification and therefore this version was also classified G with consumer advice of 'some scenes may frighten young children'.

Series of television programs released on DVD that were classified G in the reporting period included My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Puppy in My Pocket and Hi-5.

Computer Games

The G classification is the largest classification for computer games. Out of a total of 695 computer games classified during 2012–13, 291 computer games were classified G.

Computer games classified G are suitable for a general audience. The classifiable elements should be very mild with little threat or menace. Examples of computer games classified G during the reporting period were Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Fashion Tycoon, 3D Sonic The Hedgehog and Grid 2.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a 'life simulation' game in which the player must collect items, help other residents of the town and make the town prosperous. The Classification Board classified the computer game G with no consumer advice assigned.

Fashion Tycoon is a click-and-point computer game in which the player, as a sales assistant at a fashion store, helps customers find clothes they want and, in doing so, earns in-game income and scores points. In the Classification Board's view, this computer game contains no classifiable elements and therefore warrants a G classification.

3D Sonic The Hedgehog is a side-scrolling platform game for the 3D handheld console Nintendo 3DS. The player assumes the role of a hedgehog named Sonic who must run through each of the six brightly-coloured zones in the shortest time possible while collecting rings and avoiding hazardous obstacles to rescue caged animals from being turned into evil robots by Dr. Eggman. The graphic environment of the game is highly stylised and colourful with a cheerful tone in a game suitable for young children. In the Classification Board's view, this computer game contains no classifiable elements and therefore classified this game G.

Grid 2 is a driving game in which the player attempts to become the world's greatest racing driver by defeating regional race clubs in different racing events. The Classification Board notes that the computer game contained classifiable elements that are very mild in impact and can be accommodated at the G classification level. The Classification Board classified the computer game G and assigned a consumer advice of 'caution: gaming experience may change online'.

PG classification 

Films

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 721 films were classified PG (Parental Guidance).

Parental guidance for persons under 15 is recommended for films in this classification, as some children may find the material confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. Films classified PG in the reporting period include Life of Pi, Satellite Boy, Wreck-It Ralph and Despicable Me 2.

Life of Pi was submitted for classification in both 2D and 3D formats. The film tells the story of an Indian boy named 'Pi' Patel who, upon leaving India, loses his family in a shipwreck and becomes marooned on a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger as his only companion. The film details Pi's struggles to survive at sea while sharing the lifeboat with the large, predatory animal. The Classification Board notes that the impact of the themes is mitigated by the film's magical visuals and storyline that generally leads to positive resolutions. The Classification Board considered the themes to be mild in impact and therefore classified the film PG with consumer advice of 'mild survival themes'.

Satellite Boy is an Australian drama which follows Pete, a 10 year old Aboriginal boy living with his grandfather, Jagamarra, in an abandoned outdoor cinema on the outskirts of Wyndham. When their home is threatened with demolition, Pete and his friend, Kalmain, travel through the Kimberley outback to confront the company responsible. Along the way, Pete utilises the traditional bush skills taught to him by Jagamarra and learns the value of country and the old ways. In the view of the Classification Board, the film contains mild themes, mostly in the form of the boys engaging in dangerous and unlawful behaviour such as throwing petrol bombs and using a stolen handgun to threaten other characters. The film also contained infrequent use of mild coarse language. The Classification Board classified the film PG with consumer advice of 'mild themes and coarse language'.

The Classification Board classified 2D and 3D versions of two computer-animated features titled Wreck-It Ralph and Despicable Me 2. In Wreck-It Ralph, a computer game villain inadvertently causes mayhem in the video game universe when he attempts to become a hero. Violence occurs in an adventure context as characters from videogames engage in battle and one-on-one fisticuffs. In Despicable Me 2, former villain Gru and his three adopted young girls are leading a quiet, suburban life until Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help capture a new villain and save the world. Animated violence occurs mostly in a comedic or adventure context. Both versions of both of these films were classified PG by the Classification Board with consumer advice of 'mild animated violence'.

Series of television programs released on DVD that were classified PG in the reporting period included Modern Family, Mythbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ice Road Truckers.

Computer Games

Parental guidance for persons under 15 is recommended for computer games in this classification as the games may contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. The impact of classifiable elements should be no higher than mild. Out of the total of 695 computer games classified during 2012–13, 203 computer games were classified PG. Examples of computer games classified PG during the reporting period were Guacamelee!, Sing Party and Big Sky Infinity.

Guacamelee! is a Mexican themed, side-scrolling game, with players assuming the role of Juan Aguacate. The player traverses twelve different environments, in two parallel worlds, battling enemy characters with punches, kicks, strikes and blows in an attempt to locate and save the El Presidente's daughter who has been kidnapped by the evil Charro Skeleton. The Classification Board classified this computer game PG with consumer advice of 'mild violence'.

Sing Party is a music game in which the player can sing Karaoke solo or as a duet. The game features 50 songs and four different game modes. The Classification Board classified the computer game PG with consumer advice of 'mild sexual references; gaming experience may change online'.

In the reporting period, the Classification Board classified two versions of the computer game Big Sky Infinity, one version designed for the Playstation 3 console and the other for the handheld Playstation Vita. The computer game is a side-scrolling, arcade-style shooter in which players navigate a small spacecraft through an array of nebulae, debris, planets and stars as they blast their way through space escaping enemy attacks across 13 modes. In the view of the Board, the game contains infrequent mild violence, in a science fiction setting, that is justified by context. Players control a small spacecraft that blasts its way across a stylised outer-space environment shooting at enemies and using its 'drill' ability to drill through planets. Impact to enemies is accompanied by bright colour flashes and explosions. Enemies range from asteroids to futuristic machines and include seven boss characters, each with a unique attack style, requiring a different set of skills to defeat. Both versions of the computer game were classified PG with consumer advice of 'mild science fiction violence and coarse language'.

M classification 

Films

The M classification is the largest classification category for films.

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 1,087 films were classified M.

Films classified M are not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. Accordingly, they require a mature perspective. There are no legal restrictions on access and ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents or guardians to make decisions about appropriate entertainment material for their children and to provide adequate supervision.

Films classified M by the Classification Board during the reporting period included Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Argo and Skyfall.

The feature film Zero Dark Thirty chronicles the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in 2011. The Classification Board classified the film M with consumer advice of 'mature themes, violence and coarse language'. The themes and violence, which the Classification Board considered were inextricably linked, relate to depictions of implied torture of terrorism suspects and to the final raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

In the Classification Board's view, the environmental-themed fantasy feature film Beasts of the Southern Wild. The story centres on a young girl's existence within a small town which, after a storm, is swallowed by rising waters related to rapidly melting ice caps. There are a number of visuals showing blood detail and scenes of decay. The Board decided such themes and associated violence were moderate in viewing impact, and the film was classified M with consumer advice of 'mature themes'.

Argo, a political thriller based on real events which took place in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution and an attempt to rescue six Americans, was classified M by the Classification Board. In the view of the Classification Board, the film contained moderate-level coarse language and depictions of themes and violence related to scenes of civil unrest and violent rioting. The film was, at times, cut with archival news footage, reports and images of real events in Iran during the revolution. The Classification Board assigned the consumer advice of 'coarse language, mature themes and violence'.

Skyfall, the latest film in the long-running James Bond franchise, was classified M by the Classification Board with consumer advice of 'violence and infrequent coarse language'. The film contains depictions of characters engaging in lengthy action sequences which occasionally contains some blood or wound detail as a result of gun battles. The film also includes use of coarse language which does not exceed a moderate impact.

Series of television programs released on DVD that were classified M in the reporting period included Packed to the Rafters, The Big Bang Theory, The Newsroom and Top Gear.

Computer Games

Computer games classified M are not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. The impact of classifiable elements should be no higher than moderate and playing is recommended for mature audiences. Out of the total of 695 computer games classified during 2012–13, 114 computer games were classified M.

Computer games classified M during the reporting period included The Sims Island Paradise, Pacific Rim, Halo 4 and War of the Roses.

The Sims 3 Island Paradise is an expansion pack for The Sims 'life simulation' game in which players create their own characters, stories and homes. Additional material includes activities related to beaches and islands such as scuba diving, boating, swimming and meeting mermaids as well as management of island resorts and living on houseboats. The Classification Board classified this computer game M with consumer advice of 'sexual references'.

The Classification Board classified the computer game Pacific Rim M with consumer advice of 'fantasy violence'. In the game, the user controls a giant robot which is used to battle large reptile-like alien creatures in a range of environments including ocean and urban environments. The alien creatures have sharp crocodile-like teeth and large claws which they use to strike their opponent. The player engages in one-on-one combat, hitting, punching and kicking. The player has the use of weapons such as built-in arm blades and the ability to throw balls of energy. The Classification Board notes that the game also contains online capability in the form of leader boards and therefore the Classification Board assigned the additional consumer advice of 'gaming experience may change online'.

The Classification Board classified the computer game Halo 4, a first-person shooter game in the Halo series. Set in a science fiction setting, the player controls a soldier who battles against an array of alien creatures using a variety of real-world and futuristic gun based weapons. Player attacks on human and alien enemies produce multi-coloured blood effects and 'goo'. Human characters emit small blood sprays when shot and blood spatter and stains are viewed momentarily on surrounding structures. Post-mortem attacks can result in small amounts of blood spray and 'ragdoll' effects but no wound detail or dismemberment occurs. The game also features online communication and multiplayer capabilities that may cause the in-game classifiable elements to increase in impact. The Classification Board classified the game M with consumer advice of 'science fiction violence; gaming experience may change online'.

War of the Roses is a strategy and war game set in the battle-ravaged, dynastic civil war era of 15th century England. The Classification Board classified this computer game M with consumer advice of 'battle violence; gaming experience may change online'.

MA classification 

Films

Films classified MA 15+ are not suitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category, which means that people under 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to attend or hire a MA 15+ film. MA 15+ films contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity that have a strong impact.

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 844 films were classified MA 15+. Films that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Django Unchained, Killing Them Softly and Trance.

Django Unchained by director Quentin Tarantino was classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board, with consumer advice of 'strong bloody violence and themes'. Django, a former slave and now a successful bounty hunter, attempts to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. In the Classification Board's view, the film contains themes that have a strong sense of threat and menace and strong bloody violence that is justified by context. The film contains themes of slavery, subjugation and murder that are strong in viewing impact together with depictions of gun violence that feature 'over the top' wound detail and blood effects, which are highly stylised and unrealistic in nature.

In Killing Them Softly, mafia enforcer, Jackie Cogan, is sent to investigate a poker game heist in New Orleans and to eliminate the culprit. In the Classification Board's view, the violence in the film consists of brutal fist fights and stylised gunshot violence that results in generous blood effects and wound detail. Scenes of violence also include special effects such as extreme slow motion and bullet-point-of-view with impact and blood effects that are strong in impact. The violence is contextualised and mitigated by the film's noir setting and the stylised nature of the violence mitigates the impact, such that it can be accommodated at an MA 15+ classification. The Classification Board determined that the film also contains drug use, sexual references and coarse language that is strong in impact. The film was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong violence, drug use, sexual references and coarse language'.

The Classification Board classified the British psychological thriller Trance MA 15+ in the reporting period. The film deals with an art dealer named Simon who undergoes hypnotherapy in order to remember where he hid a stolen painting. In the Classification Board's view, the film contains themes and violence that are strong in viewing impact. During Simon's psychotherapy sessions, his increasing paranoia is revealed in surreal sequences, one of which includes a depiction of exaggerated violence. These are interspersed with depictions of violence in both flashback and real-time sequences which, in the Classification Board's view, builds into a strong sense of threat and menace as the film progresses. The film also contains nudity, implied sexual activity and sexual references that are strong in impact. The Classification Board assigned consumer advice of 'strong themes, violence, nudity and sex scenes' to the film.

Series of television programs released on DVD which were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Homeland, Hannibal, The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.

Computer Games

Computer games classified MA 15+ are not suitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category which prevents the purchase or hire by persons under 15 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Out of the total of 695 computer games classified during 2012–13, 68 computer games were classified MA 15+.

Computer games classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Bioshock Infinite, Dishonored and The Walking Dead.

The computer game Tomb Raider is a third person, action-adventure game that is based around a survival storyline. The main character, Lara Croft, engages in combat with various enemy characters with weaponry including bows and arrows, shotguns, grenade launchers, pistols, stylised axes and a customised ice axe. When characters are shot with guns, rifles or arrows, blood splatter obscures wound detail. The Classification Board classified this computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong violence'. The Classification Board also notes that the computer game contains coarse language and themes that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter action-adventure game in which players assume the role of Jason Brody, whose main aim is to rescue his friends from pirates and survive a hostile island environment. The gameplay contains violence that is strong in impact, and includes the use of weapons such as guns, machetes, flame-throwers and explosives against humans and animals (such as tigers and wild boars). The game also contains drug use that is strong in playing impact and justified by context. The drug use in the game generally acts to impede the character's abilities. Strong implied sexual activity, sexual references and frequent coarse language are also present in the computer game. The Classification Board classified the computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong violence, drug use, sex scenes, sexual references and coarse language.

Bioshock Infinite is a first-person action adventure game that takes place in a fantasy world with the player taking on the role of Booker De Witt, an agent with a shady past, who must battle against villains. The game contains depictions of strong violence which, in the Classification Board's view, are mitigated by the stylised and unrealistic attacks that occur within a futuristic fantasy world setting. The Classification Board classified this computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong fantasy violence'.

Dishonored is a first-person stealth action-adventure/role-playing game. The player assumes the character of Corvo, a former royal bodyguard of the Empress, now turned assassin after being framed for her murder. Violence in the game involve use of both supernatural and real world weaponry including swords, daggers, crossbows, and guns, including powerful but slow pistols and muskets. Corvo's supernatural powers include the ability to freeze time for a certain period, create powerful gusts of wind, possess living creatures and summon plague animals such as rats. The depictions of violence include large blood bursts and blood spatter. The Classification Board classified the computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong bloody violence'. The Classification Board also notes that the game contains sexual references, coarse language and themes that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Based on the original comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead is a linear, narrative-driven, role playing, horror-adventure computer game. Assuming the role of Lee Everett, a convicted murderer who helps to rescue and subsequently care for an orphaned girl, the player uses the mouse and keyboard to manoeuvre through a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies. The player's aim is to ensure Lee's survival and gameplay involves making choices, frequently morally ambiguous choices, which affect that outcome. Once the player has selected an action, predetermined scenes play out and within this context themes and violence are depicted. Examples include Lee, after having been bitten on the wrist by a zombie, having to decide whether to cut his own arm off or have another character do it for him, or the user having to decide the method in which Lee has to kill a young boy zombie. The game is rendered with stylised, comic book graphics and a focus on narrative with the pace of gameplay slow and involving relatively minimal player interaction which significantly mitigates the impact of violence and themes depicted. The Classification Board classified this computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'strong themes and horror violence'.

R classification 

Films

The R 18+ classification category is wide in scope giving effect to the Code principle that adults should, with limited exceptions, be able to read, hear and see what they want. The R 18+ classification is legally restricted to adults. Children under 18 are not permitted to view R 18+ films in cinemas, or to rent or buy them on DVD. The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to some sections of the adult community.

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 68 films were classified R 18+.

Films classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Evil Dead, Father's Day, and American Mary.

In Evil Dead, five young adults stay in an isolated cabin to help Mia overcome her drug addiction. When Mia is possessed by a satanic demon, the members of the group find themselves fighting not just for their lives but for their souls. This horror genre film maintains a sense of threat and menace throughout and includes scenes that contain explicitly detailed acts of violence such as mutilation and dismemberment. In the Classification Board's view, the violence in the film is high in viewing impact and therefore the film warrants an R 18+ classification with consumer advice of 'high impact horror violence'.

Father's Day is a Canadian black comedy which tells the story of Ahab, a man obsessed with exacting revenge on the man who brutally raped and murdered his father. The Classification Board originally classified this film RC Refused Classification on 31 October 2012 as it contains actual sexual violence and sexualised violence that exceeds a high impact, including depictions of rape, sexualised torture, sexual activity with body parts and cannibalism. A modified version of the film was also classified RC by the Classification Board on 22 February 2013 as the version submitted for classification contained an explicit depiction of sexual violence in a scene of sexualised torture that exceeded a high impact. On 27 February 2013 the Classification Board viewed a further modified version of the film, this time with all depictions of explicit sexual violence removed. The Classification Board classified this version of the film R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact violence, blood and gore, themes and sex scenes'.

This horror film American Mary follows Mary Mason, a young woman who drops out of medical school after being raped by one of her instructors and who, whilst exacting her revenge, sets up an underground body modification surgery in the basement of a seedy burlesque bar. In the Classification Board's view, the film contains violence and themes concerning surgical procedures, body modifications and torture that are inextricably linked and cumulatively high in viewing impact. The Classification Board classified the film R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact themes and violence'.

Series of television programs released on DVD which were classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Spartacus: Vengeance and Strike Back.

Computer Games

The R 18+ category for computer games was introduced on 1 January 2013. This category contains content that is only suitable for adults. Only people aged 18 or over can buy or rent R 18+ computer games. It is against the law to sell or rent computer games that are classified R 18+ to people under 18. Since 1 January 2013, 17 computer games have been classified R 18+ by the Classification Board.

The first computer game to be classified R 18+ during the reporting period was Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge. Other computer games classified R 18+ included The Last of Us, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Spartacus Legends, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition and Dead Island Riptide.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge was the first computer game to be classified R 18+ in Australia. The computer game is an action-adventure game in which players assume the role of Ryu Hayabusa, a cursed ninja, battling a terrorist organisation. Players engage in repetitive hack-and-slash style gameplay, using katanas, bows, shurikens, and special attacks to kill demon creatures and human enemies. The melee-style combat is highlighted by slow-motion effects and exaggerated blood splashes as enemies are frequently impaled, decapitated and dismembered, and some attacks end with close-up camera angles on bloodied foes. In the Classification Board's view, the violence in the game is high in playing impact due to its frequency, high definition resolution and emphasis on blood effects. The Classification Board therefore classified the computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact bloody violence'.

The Last of Us is a survival horror/shooter game. The player controls a middle-aged man, Joel, who has to transport a 14 year-old girl, Ellie, from a quarantined zone to a sector where a group of survivors is located. At times, the player is able to play as Ellie. The game can also be played in multiplayer mode. During general gameplay, the character is armed with melee weapons and a variety of guns. The character is set upon, sometimes frenetically, by waves of human and zombie enemies. When enemies are injured, they emit large sprays of blood and often display wound detail. Some weapons cause dismemberment and/or decapitation, which are accompanied by spurts of blood. In the opinion of the Classification Board, the impact of the game is heightened by the frequency of explicitly detailed and realistic depictions of violence, the ability to inflict post-mortem damage and the sustained sense of threat and menace. The Classification Board notes that the computer game also contains discreet references to sexual violence. The Classification Board classified the game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact violence'.

Another computer game classified R 18+ by the Classification Board was Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Set in a fictional Middle Ages kingdom, the game contains violence that is high in impact in the view of the Classification Board. The violence in the game is seen from both a first-person and third-person perspective as the player engages in relentless and realistic combat scenarios against realistically depicted human opponents using a wide array of medieval weaponry that results in graphic and detailed injuries. Consumer advice of 'high impact violence' was assigned to this game.

Spartacus Legends is a third-person combat game where the player controls and customises gladiators who fight in pitched arena-style battles to achieve fame and power. The player engages in one-on-one gladiator battles in a variety of arenas and uses fists, swords, shields, tridents, hammers, daggers and spears to maim and kill opponents. Combat results in graphic and realistically depicted wounding, dismemberment and decapitations accompanied by copious blood effects, flesh and bone detail. The Classification Board classified this computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact bloody violence'.

The Classification Board also assigned an R 18+ classification to the computer game Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition. The game is set in a dystopian fantasy realm and its cast of playable fighters includes humans, humanoids, creatures and robots. These characters are each able to perform punches, kicks and signature moves during a bout. Signature moves often involve a character's particular weapon or supernatural ability. Fights are depicted in side-view and presented in high definition resolution. The 'fatality' moves, whilst highly stylised and difficult to execute, include numerous depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other gory forms of slaughter. The exaggerated conceptual nature of these fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm mitigates impact to a degree. The Classification Board classified this computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact violence, blood and gore'.

In Dead Island Riptide, characters find themselves trapped on an island which has been overrun with zombies. In single or online multiplayer modes, players navigate their way across a jungle environment battling against hordes of attacking zombies with the main objective being to survive and flee the island as a group. The highest impact violence contained in the game occurs during attacks on enemy zombie characters which are frequent throughout. As well as hand-to-hand combat, players have a range of weapons at their disposal including firearms, explosives and blunt and bladed weapons, which all have a range of possible upgrades and modifications. Injury to enemy characters is accompanied with generous blood effects and dismemberment. The game does contain violence against human characters however damage to a human enemy character is only accompanied by blood effects and does not include dismemberment. The Classification Board classified this computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'high impact violence'.

X classification 

The X 18+ classification applies to films only. It is a special and legally restricted category which contains only sexually explicit material. That is, material which contains real depictions of actual sexual intercourse and other sexual activity between consenting adults. X 18+ films are restricted to adults 18 years and over and are available for sale or hire only in the Australian Capital Territory and parts of the Northern Territory.

Films classified X 18+ can contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults, but does not allow violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence or coercion. Nor does it allow consensual depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers.

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 257 films were classified X 18+.

Films classified X 18+ during the reporting period included sexually explicit parodies of The Dark Knight and Bring It On.

RC Refused Classification

Films

Out of the total of 3,457 commercial films classified in 2012–13, 11 films were classified RC.

Films that are classified RC cannot be legally sold, hired, advertised or exhibited in Australia. Films will be classified RC if they depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified. Films containing descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years, will also be classified RC; as will films depicting gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact, including sexual violence. The majority of films that are classified RC are sexually explicit films containing these prohibited elements.

Computer Games

In 2012–13, out of the total of 695 computer games classified, two computer games were classified RC.

Computer Games that are classified RC cannot be legally sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia. Computer games will be classified RC if they contain content that has a very high impact.

The computer games that were classified RC during the reporting period were Saints Row IV and State of Decay.

In the computer game Saints Row IV, the player controls the leader of the gang called the Third Street Saints. Players navigate open world environments and complete missions with the main objective being to destroy the Zin alien empire. In the view of the Classification Board, the game contains a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context. The game also contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as 'alien narcotics' which has the effect of increasing the player's in-game abilities. In the Classification Board's opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the 'alien narcotics' available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. At the R 18+ classification, the guidelines state:

  • 'Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted'; and
  • 'Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted'.

As such, the Classification Board classified this computer game RC.

State of Decay is a third-person survival shooter computer game set in a small American town during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Players navigate open-world environments, battling zombie attacks, as they scavenge for supplies and collaborate with other survivors to ensure survival of the human race. The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of 'medications' throughout the gameplay which act to restore a player's health or boost their stamina. These 'medications' include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, 'trucker pills' and painkillers. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term 'stimulant' is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed. In the Classification Board's opinion, the game contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and therefore State of Decay was also classified RC.

Other decisions

Internet Content

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified 58 internet content items. These applications were made by the ACMA. In the reporting period, the Classification Board Refused Classification to 22 items of internet content. The majority of these decisions contained content that was refused classification under items 1 (a) and 1 (b) of the National Classification Code (see page 39 for breakdown of statistics).

The following items are examples of internet content that was classified by the Classification Board during the reporting period.

The first item consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website advocating physical violence against women. The content included ten close-up images of women, some of whom appear to be actually bruised, bloodied, cut and/or swollen about the face, as well as a stylised depiction of a woman cowering on the floor as a partially obscured male looms over her with his fist clenched. The Guidelines for the Classification of Films state that a film will be refused classification if it contains:

  • 'Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence'; and
  • 'Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of… cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have high impact'

The Classification Board therefore classified the content RC.

Another item that was submitted for classification was a mobile phone game and what appeared to be a page from a related website. The simple mobile phone game involves training and feeding a dog and then fighting it in dogfights, while the webpage provided information about the game. In the Classification Board's view, the material contained themes and drug references that are strong in impact. The Classification Board classified this material MA 15+.

A website page containing a description of how to surreptitiously gain basic information to embarrass or blackmail people was also submitted for classification. In the Classification Board's view, the website does not provide detailed instructions on how to commit blackmail and appears to be tongue in cheek. The Classification Board classified this material PG.

Exemptions To Show Unclassified Films and Computer Games

During 2012–13, the Director finalised 609 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films and computer games at film festivals and special film and computer game events. The Director refused an exemption for four films in the reporting period. One film was refused an exemption to be exhibited at two separate film festivals. The other three films were refused exemptions to be exhibited at different film festivals. There were 475 applications finalised in the previous reporting period.

Fee Waivers

The Director granted 18 fee waivers during the reporting period.

Advertising Assessments

The Classification Board made 24 assessments of the likely classification of films and one assessment of the likely classification of a computer game for the purpose of advertising those products with classified material.

Advertising Approvals

No decisions were made to approve or not approve advertisements under section 29 of the Classification Act.

Exemption Certificates

No decisions were made to certify films or games exempt from classification under section 28B of the Classification Act.

Revocation Decisions

One publication had its serial classification declaration revoked under subsection 13(5) of the Classification Act during this reporting period.

Call Ins—Publications

The Director called in 12 publications for classification during the reporting period. The publications were called in from eight different distributors. One distributor submitted one publication for classification. The other seven distributors did not comply with the Director's call-in notice. The matters were referred to the relevant enforcement agencies in the states in which the distributors were based.

Call Ins—Films

The Director called in 150 films for classification during the reporting period. The films were called in from five different distributors. Four distributors did not respond to the call-in notice. The matters were referred to the relevant enforcement agencies in the states in which the distributors were based. Advice was received that one of the distributors was closing its operations in Australia.

Call Ins—Computer Games

No computer games were called in for classification during the reporting period.

CORRESPONDENCE

Complaints

The Classification Board seeks to reflect current community standards in its decision-making and feedback from the community is informative and helpful.

During the reporting period, the Classification Board received 1,001 complaints. There were:

  • 21 complaints about decisions for publications
  • 122 complaints about decisions for films
  • 795 complaints about decisions for computer games
  • seven complaints about other associated classification matters
  • three complaints received about advertising
  • 53 complaints about matters relating to film festivals

Some titles received several complaints and other titles only single complaints. Some complaints referred to several titles.

The films which attracted the most complaints were I Give It a Year, Life of Pi and Django Unchained. The computer games which attracted the most complaints were Saints Row IV and State of Decay.

Publications

The Classification Board made 243 classification decisions for publications in the reporting period (this included 40 serial publication declarations). Twenty-one complaints were received about publications during 2012–13. This compares with 12 complaints about publications in 2011–12

Twelve complaints were received in the reporting period about the Australian magazine Zoo Weekly. Most of the complaints referred to an edition of the magazine containing a pictorial spread titled 'Hottest Asylum Seeker'. The Classification Board examined this publication and determined that this edition of the magazine was not a submittable publication, therefore the publication has not been classified by the Classification Board.

Films

The Classification Board received 122 complaints about the classifications of films. This compares with 145 complaints in 2011–12. The complaints were about a small number of titles which comprised the 3,457 classification decisions relating to films in 2012–13.

There were 14 complaints about I Give It a Year. The majority of the complainants were of the view that the M classification with consumer advice of 'nudity, coarse language and sexual references' was too low. The majority of complainants were concerned about the film's depictions of nudity and sexual references.

The film Life of Pi received seven complaints in the reporting period. The film was classified PG with consumer advice of 'mild survival themes'. The complainants were all of the opinion that the film's classification was too low due to the depictions of violence in the film, particularly those involving animals.

The film Django Unchained attracted five complaints in the reporting period, with complainants believing the film's MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of 'strong bloody violence and themes' was too low. Two of the complainants were concerned that young children were present in the audience during the screening of the film.

Computer games

The Classification Board received 795 complaints about computer games. The Classification Board made 695 classification decisions for computer games in 2012–13. Seven hundred and seventy-seven of the complaints were about the RC classifications of the two computer games Saints Row IV and State of Decay. Some other titles received more than one complaint while one title received only a single complaint. Overall, the complaints were about a small number of titles. This compares with the 35 complaints received about computer games classifications in 2011–12.

There were 507 complaints about the classification of Saints Row IV. The Classification Board classified the game RC due to a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and depictions of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. The overwhelming majority of the complainants did not want the computer game to be refused classification.

The Classification Board also received 270 complaints about the computer game State of Decay. The Classification Board classified the computer game RC as it contains illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Again, a majority of the complainants did not want the computer game to be refused classification.

There were eight complaints about the computer game Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland which is classified R 18+ with consumer advice of 'references to sexual violence'. Some of the complainants questioned why this game was classified R 18+ while another computer game in the Atelier Totori series was classified PG.

Other Complaints

There were also other complaints that covered a broad range of classification issues. These included complaints about insufficient consumer advice and the belief that that animated films are classified too high.

Advertising for films

Three complaints were received about advertising for films in the reporting period. All of these complaints related to the advertising trailer for the film Paranorman, with all of the complainants of the opinion that the film should not be advertised at screenings of popular children's films such as Wreck-It Ralph as the content of the trailer may scare children.

Film festivals

During 2012–13, the Director finalised 609 applications for exemptions to publicly exhibit unclassified films and computer games at film festivals and special film and computer game events. Fifty-three complaints were received in relation to film festivals in the reporting period. Twenty-nine complaints were about the film, I Want Your Love. This film was not granted an exemption to be screened at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival and the Melbourne Queer Screen Festival as it was the view of the Director that to grant an exemption from classification for it to be shown would be in breach of the Film Festival Guidelines.

Nineteen complaints were also received in relation to the film Donkey Love. Two separate film festivals, The Melbourne Underground Film Festival and The Sydney Underground Film Festival, were both granted exemptions to screen this unclassified film. The majority of the complaints believed that the film should not have received the exemptions to be screened at the festivals and that the film should 'be banned'.

Table 15: Complaints
Publications
21
Films
122
Computer games
795
Other complaints
7
Advertising for films
3
Films at festivals
53

Enquiries and other assistance

The Attorney-General's Department responds to a range of other enquiries which are related to classification policy matters.

This includes requests for general classification information, requests for reasons for classification decisions and enquiries about the classification of specific products. Other requests are about how to get material classified, how to obtain exemptions and requests for information on the determined markings for films and computer games. A number of requests concern the importation of publications, films and computer games and clarification about the enforcement of classification decisions.


1 The reason for refusing a publication classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see appendix).

2 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see appendix).

3 The reason for refusing a computer game classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).

4 The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005 provide each state and territory with 100 free 'eligible documents' each calendar year if the request for the eligible document relates to the enforcement of the state or territory law for the purposes of the National Classification Scheme. 'Eligible documents' include an application for classification and a section 87 certificate. Amendments to the Regulations which commenced on 1 July 2010 allow enforcement agencies to count both the application for classification and the section 87 certificate as a single eligible document. This change effectively doubles the number of free eligible documents that can be requested. Such combined applications, while disaggregated in Table 12, are formally counted (Tables 02) as one application.

5 A section 87 certificate is an evidentiary certificate that describes the action taken, or not taken, by the Classification Board in relation to a publication or film. This evidentiary certificate is issued under section 87 of the Classification Act.

6 The reason for refusing classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).