Skip to main content
 
Check the Classification
Check the Classification
This has advertising approval, but is not yet classified
Learn more...
General.
General
Suitable for everyone.
Learn more...
Parental Guidance.
Parental Guidance
Not recommended for children under 15; may contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting.
Learn more...
Mature.
Mature
Not recommended for children under 15; may include moderate levels of violence, language or themes.
Learn more...
Mature Audiences.
Mature Audiences
Restricted - unsuitable for persons under 15; may contain strong content.
Learn more...
Restricted (R).
Restricted (R)
Restricted to adults.
Learn more...
Restricted (X).
Restricted (X)
Restricted to adults – contains sexually explicit content.
Learn more...
Recent Titles Image
Public
Public
Information for the general public.
Industry
Industry
Information for the media industry.
Compliance
Compliance
Classification compliance information.
How it all works
How it all works
How it all works.

Classification Board Annual Report 2009-10

Classification Board Annual Report 2009-10

Previous | Next

Director’s letter of transmittal

Brendan O'Connor 

The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Home Affairs

 

Classification Board crest 

Donald McDonald AC
Director

The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Home Affiars
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister (handwritten)

In accordance with subsection 67(1) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games Act) 1995, I am pleased to submit a report on the management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Board for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Yours sincerely (handwritten)

Donald McDonald AC (signed)

Donald McDonald
Director
1 September 2010

Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au

Director's overview

Donald McDonald 

The 2009–10 reporting year has been one of growth and consolidation for the Classification Board. The Board has continued to fulfil its statutory duty and role in the National Classification Scheme working efficiently to classify films, computer games and publications. As has been the case in previous years, the Board has been required to make classification decisions that have been the subject of some public debate. In these instances, as is the case with all decisions, the Board continues to capture and reflect the diversity of opinion found in our community.

In this respect, the Board’s fundamental role is to make classification decisions. The States and Territories are primarily responsible for enforcement. Customs and Border Protection regulates what can and cannot be imported into Australia.

In this reporting year, the Board received 7,302 applications, including applications to classify 4,820 films, 1,101 computer games and 291 publications (228 single issue and 63 serial publications). These figures are generally consistent with the number of applications the Board has received over the previous two years.

There have been a number of highlights throughout this reporting period. In April 2010, I participated in a very valuable Classification Enforcement Contacts Forum hosted by the Attorney-General’s Department. Participants discussed a range of classification enforcement issues affecting each state and territory and shared intelligence and other information, particularly regarding adult publications and films. It was the first time such an event was held and given the positive feedback received by all who participated, is likely to become an annual event.

In May 2010, I attended the Annual Conference for European Film Classifiers ‘A New Decade, New Challenges’ that was held on 19 and 20 May 2010 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The conference was organised by the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media (NICAM) and attended by delegates from Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom with guest speakers from the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Media Authority.

A number of issues were discussed including 3D in cinema and home entertainment with all delegates being in general agreement about the different impact of these products. Attendees also discussed the technical developments in 3D technology with a demonstration screening being provided in a local cinema.

The Board continues to attend the annual media classification forums hosted by the Free-to-Air TV Classifiers. A range of issues of mutual interest are discussed such as advertising standards, consistency in a changing technological environment and regulating and classifying across different media.

The Board also continues to regularly engage with stakeholders such as tertiary and secondary educational institutions, community organisations, professional bodies and industry, about classification and community standards.

The Board has continued its work in providing consumer advice about films and computer games. In order to ensure that consumers are not missing very important advice provided by the Board about films and computer games, the Board has commenced issuing media releases about classification decisions. These are released in instances where the Board believes there is a public interest in promoting a particular decision. This is particularly useful for films that are aimed at children, or may incorrectly be perceived as being aimed at children. Media releases were issued for the PG classified Alice in Wonderland, the MA 15+ classified Kick-Ass and the M classified Robin Hood.

One classification decision of the Board that attracted some public debate is the R 18+ classification for a modified 292 minute DVD version of the film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo). The film, in a number of different versions, has been variously classified R 18+ and RC (Refused Classification). Before this decision, the Board most recently classified a version of the standalone feature Salo RC in July 2008.

This latest version is a two-disc release which also contains documentary material, a trailer and a music clip. The Classification Board, in a majority decision, classified the film R 18+ with the consumer advice ‘Scenes of torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity’.

The Board readily acknowledges this is an extremely controversial film with a difficult classification history. Beyond that, the decision of the Board speaks for itself, and in any case has been overtaken by the decision of the Classification Review Board which classified the film R 18+.

An application was made to the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 on 16 June 2010 regarding the Classification Review Board’s R 18+ classification of Salo. I understand the matter is to be heard by the Federal Court in 2010–11.

This reporting period also saw the introduction of the Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme which commenced on 1 July 2009. The scheme sets out conditions on advertising unclassified films and computer games. Most advertisements for unclassified films and computer games are required to display a message ‘Check the Classification’ or its shortened form ‘CTC’. Under the scheme, a distributor is only to make an advertisement for an unclassified film or computer game available for advertising with classified material if the film or computer game has been assessed by the Classification Board or by an authorised advertising assessor as having a likely classification no greater than that of the classified material. The scheme has been well received by industry and implemented successfully during this reporting period.

The Classification Board continues to monitor the classification compliance levels of adult publications and films. During this reporting year, I have used my Directors’ powers to call in 444 adult films and 49 adult magazines. Failure to comply with a call in notice is a breach of classification laws and the Attorney-General’s Department was asked to refer all breaches to relevant State or Territory law enforcement agencies for appropriate attention and action.

This reporting year has also seen an increase in the Board’s auditing of serial classifications with every periodical covered by a declaration being audited. Serial classification declarations are made under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995. The Classification Act allows the Board to declare that the classification granted to a publication also applies to:

(a) all future issues; or
(b) a specified number of future issues; or
(c) all future issues published within a specified period.

In addition, given the recent history of non-compliance by some distributors, the Board has been tending to issue serial declarations for 12 months only, rather than the previously common 24 month period.

The Board continues to observe the public discussions about mandatory internet filtering. The role of the Board continues to be one of classifying online content upon receipt of a valid application under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which we have successfully done now for many years. Once classified, the role of the Board with regard to online content regulation ends.

The Board also continues to monitor progress surrounding the issue of an R 18+ classification for computer games. A public consultation process was conducted by the Attorney-General’s Department between December 2009 and February 2010 resulting in approximately 60,000 submissions being received.

This reporting period was a time of renewal for the Board with seven members’ terms expiring. I would like to thank the former Deputy Director Olya Booyar, Acting Deputy Director Jeremy Fenton and Board members Alexandra Greene, Joseph Mlikota, Rosalea Oberdorf, Rod Smith and Conrad del Villar for their significant contributions and wish them well in their future endeavours. Progress in recruiting new Board members is well advanced. Interviews for the vacant Deputy Director position were conducted in March, Senior Classifier position interviews were conducted in May, and Board member position interviews were conducted in June 2010. Members are appointed by the Governor-General, on recommendation of the Minister for Home Affairs, after consultation with State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for classification. I look forward to welcoming new members when they are appointed.

Finally, none of these achievements would be possible without the dedication, commitment and cooperation of Board members and staff from the Classification Operations Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department. I would like to thank all of them for their enthusiasm and hard work throughout this financial year.

Donald McDonald AC
Director
Classification Board

Group Classification Board 

Back row L-R Zahid Gamieldien, Greg Scott, Rosalea Oberdorf, Conrad Del Villar, Rod Smith, Georgina Dridan,
Alexandra Greene, Joseph Mlikota, Sheridan Brill.
Front Row L–R Amanda Apel, Olya Booyar, Donald McDonald, Jeremy Fenton, Moya Glasson.

Classification Board profiles

Donald McDonald 

Donald McDonald AC

Director
Appointed 1 May 2007
Appointment expires 30 April 2011

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 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
Appointment expires 2 April 2013

Acting Deputy Director

Greg Scott, 30, 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, he 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 he 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 son.

Georgina Dridan 

Georgina Dridan

Board member
Appointed 3 April 2006
Reappointed 3 April 2009
Appointment expires 2 April 2013

Acting Senior Classifier

Georgina Dridan, 39, 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 State Government employment and training programs, specific to regional timber industries. She presently resides in regional NSW and enjoys a continued interest in media and film production via her involvement in regional community arts festivals and recreational programs.

Amanda Apel 

Amanda Apel

Board member
Appointed 3 April 2009
Appointment expires 2 April 2012

Amanda Apel, 47, 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 a variety of industries including advertising, tourism, photography, business and sports administration and primary industry.

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 has been exposed to a variety of cultures and social issues through extensive travel, study and diverse professional experience. She maintains an interest in art, photography, writing and films and takes her greatest joy is spending time with family and friends.

Amanda lives on the northern beaches of Sydney with her partner and three sons.

Zahid Gamieldien 

Zahid Gamieldien

Board member
Appointed 18 May 2009
Appointment expires 17 May 2012

Zahid Gamieldien, 25, was born in Cape Town, South Africa and migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of three. He grew up in south-western Sydney and currently resides with his spouse in the inner-city.

Zahid holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Technology, Sydney. During his time at university, he contributed to the university newspaper and was published in the UTS Writers’ Anthology.

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 stories and reviews appearing in various professional, academic and community publications. Prior to his appointment to the Classification Board, he practised as a solicitor for a subscription television company.

Zahid’s diverse 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
Appointment expires 5 April 2012

Moya Glasson, 56, holds a Bachelor of Education degree and has 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 WA. 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 (DETWA) 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 the 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 WA in areas as diverse as dance, Aus-Kick and volunteer radio.

Sheridan Brill 

Sheridan Brill

Board member
Appointed 3 April 2009
Appointment expires 2 April 2012

Sheridan Brill, 32, from Canberra, spent three years after high school working in various Public Service positions before deciding to become a teacher.

Sheridan attended a number of schools nationally and internationally during her father’s engineering career in the RAAF. After completing her Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Canberra, she spent six years teaching Kindergarten to Year 6 in the ACT public education system. During her teaching career Sheridan was passionate about ensuring students from all backgrounds had access to quality education, with a specific focus on the development of literacy skills.

Sheridan’s interests lie in interior design, digital photography and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. She has recently married and now resides in South Sydney.

Members who left the Classification Board in 2009–10

Olya Booyar 

Olya Booyar

Deputy Director
Appointed 23 July 2007
Resigned 29 January 2010

Born in Ukraine and educated in Canada and Germany, Olya migrated to Australia in 1987 after graduating from the University of Manitoba with an Honours Degree in Psychology, all by the age of 19. In Australia she worked in various roles at SBS and in 2002, as Station Manager at SBS Radio in Sydney, she became one of the youngest women ever to head up a major national radio station in Australia. She came to the Classification Board from the role of Community Relations Executive at SBS Television. Olya is a member of several industry and community bodies including Women on Boards and the Australia Day Ambassador program. She is the President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television.

Married with two teenage children, Olya speaks several languages and lists her hobbies as reading and watching movies.

Jeremy Fenton 

Jeremy Fenton

Board member
Appointed 28 May 2003
Reappointed 28 May 2006

Senior Classifier
Appointed 19 October 2006
Appointment expired 27 May 2010

Acting Deputy Director 30 January to 27 May 2010

Jeremy Fenton, 39, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, before becoming a naturalised Australian citizen in 1978. He has lived in Northern New South Wales for the majority of his life and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communication) with a major in film production. He was appointed Senior Classifier on 19 October 2006, and has been appointed acting Deputy Director of the Classification Board for significant periods of time. He also had a short period as Acting Director.

Jeremy has had a long-term involvement with community radio in Lismore, NSW, serving on management and steering committees, as well as holding the position of Station Manager, where he enjoyed a wide interaction with rural, indigenous and young people.

Before moving to Sydney to join the Classification Board, Jeremy held the full-time position of Regional Coordinator for Training Services for a non-profit employment and training organisation operating across a region that stretches from Grafton to Tweed Heads in Northern NSW, and also worked part-time as a weekly columnist for a local newspaper.

He is an active volunteer with the Australian Red Cross and his interests include reading, cooking, listening to an eclectic range of music, gardening, watching films, and photography.

Jeremy lives in the inner-west of Sydney with his partner and young son.

Conrad del Villar 

Conrad Del Villar

Board member
Appointed 3 April 2009
Resigned 24 December 2009

Conrad Del Villar, 36, migrated from The Philippines to Australia as a child and was educated in Sydney and Canberra before taking a scholarship to Stanford University, where he graduated with an honours degree in Comparative Literature.

After tutoring in humanities and film at Stanford, he returned to Australia where he taught English, history and photography. Firmly believing that education involves the whole person, Conrad became actively involved in the pastoral life of several NSW high schools as a classroom teacher, mentor and tutor.

Conrad has studied, lived and worked in countries such as China, Germany, Spain, Mexico and the Philippines. He has published fiction in such journals as Heat, and exhibited his photographs and sculptures in shows such as Bondi’s ‘Sculpture by the Sea’. He continues to pursue an interest in the world of art and writing.

Alexandra Greene 

Alexandra Greene

Board member
Appointed 28 May 2003
Reappointed 28 May 2006
Resigned 17 February 2010

Alexandra Greene, 33 and mother of a four year old son, is originally from Melbourne, having spent seven years living on the Gold Coast. Alexandra has degrees in Arts and Law and worked as a commercial solicitor as well as in the State Drug Squad and Major Fraud Investigation Unit at the Queensland Police Service, prior to her appointment on the Classification Board.

This mix of work and study experience has allowed Alexandra to have close contact with children and families, giving her an insight into many legal and social issues such as drug use, violence and sexual abuse. She has interests in animal welfare, music, piano and motor racing.

Joseph Mlikota 

Joseph Mlikota

Board member
Appointed 13 December 2006
Appointment expired 12 December 2009

Joseph Mlikota, 42, was born and raised in Melbourne and worked in Sydney prior to his Board appointment. Joseph completed a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, Printmaking and continues to have an interest in the arts community. Art house and foreign films have been of particular interest to Joseph since his time at art school.

Working with people with disabilities for several years, Joseph was closely associated with children and their families and had a particular interest in alternative communication for children and adults with communication difficulties. He was also involved in establishing accommodation support in the community for several clients who had lived in long term institutional facilities.

Joseph has also served as a temporary Board member. He worked 64 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Rosalea Oberdorf 

Rosalea Oberdorf

Board member
Appointed 13 December 2006
Appointment expired 12 December 2009

Rosalea Oberdorf, 54, is originally from Queensland where she worked in the Department of Child Safety for more than 20 years, primarily in the area of child protection, local and international adoptions, crisis intervention and the Children’s Court. Rosalea’s South Sea Islander background has enabled her to understand the importance of cultural mores and traditional values because they have touched and enriched her life and enabled her to personally identify with the issues which affect the lives of all indigenous peoples. Rosalea believes that her greatest achievement and enjoyment has been her three daughters.

Rod Smith 

Rod Smith

Board member
Appointed 28 May 2003
Reappointed 28 May 2006
Resigned 4 December 2009

Rod Smith, 40, comes from Launceston in Tasmania. Following a brief period of Defence Force training, Rod spent 14 years working as a journalist and reporter for newspapers such as The Examiner and the Sunday Telegraph, ABC radio and TV, online and at a wire service. During his time in Launceston, Rod led a group of young high school students to create the first Australian entertainment guide generated entirely by young readers. He also co-founded and funded a free street paper for young adults, co-organised a major rock concert and selected bands to appear on two annually produced CDs. Rod has maintained an interest in news and current affairs, particularly issues affecting his home state. His interests include rock climbing, reading, writing, running and bushwalking. He lives in Sydney with his wife and their son.

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.

Marit Breivik Andersen

Marit Andersen, 41, came to Australia from Norway in 1990 and has worked as a temporary Board member since September 2007. She was previously a journalist/broadcaster with SBS Radio producing programs related to the Norwegian speaking community in Australia and has also worked as a freelance journalist, writer, translator and subtitler. As a mother of three young children she has close community ties through school and sports activities where she manages and coaches sporting teams.

Marit worked 114 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Graeme Bradley

Graeme Bradley, 61 began his career in the Commonwealth Bank followed by two years national service in the Royal Australian Army as a communications specialist. He then joined Telstra and worked in the field of telecommunications and IT for 35 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 104 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Emma Bromley

Emma Bromley, 36, is married with two young 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 currently fundraises for her local community childcare centre. Her interests include photography, craft and writing.

Emma worked 38 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Dianne Doratis

Dianne, 60, joined the 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 recently retired from work as a Clinician for the Children’s Courts but continues to work as a Guardian in various court jurisdictions. Married with three adult daughters, Dianne returned to Sydney after 18 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 110 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Tracey Eades

Tracey Eades, 45, is from Sydney and the Central Coast, New South Wales. She is a mother of three school age children and has spent several years caring for them full-time at home. She is a registered psychologist and has worked as a psychologist with Department of Corrective Services, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service and as a gambling counsellor. She remains actively involved in her local community through her children’s numerous activities, particularly at the local school where she is an Executive Member of the P&C, the Parent Representative Co-ordinator and Co-Editor of the School Annual Yearbook. Her interests are swimming, reading and yoga.

Tracey worked 90 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Geoff Geraghty

Geoff Geraghty, 57, has had an extensive and wide ranging career with the Australian Military. He has been active within the community through various school associations, local community initiatives, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the NSW Bar Association as a community member. Geoff is married with three adult children and one grandchild.

Geoff worked 20 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Sue Zelinka

Sue Zelinka, 60, 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 and then spent a decade as a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal. Sue maintains an active involvement in the International Association of Refugee Law Judges and is a Visiting Fellow of the Law School at the University of NSW. She lives with her husband in Sydney.

Sue worked 62 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

Chantal Chalier

Chantal Chalier, 54, was born and educated in France. She holds a Master of Arts and Doctorate from the University of Lyon. Chantal worked in education in the USA and Zimbabwe before coming to Australia. After her son’s birth, Chantal acquired Australian citizenship. Chantal was a Tutor at Macquarie University, and a Lecturer at the Australian National University for four years. Chantal worked with SBS Television for 12 years as a subtitler and then as an assessor and programmer of films and documentaries. For the last 15 years Chantal has been involved in adult education with the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sydney, co-ordinating the French program and devising French civilisation and cultural courses.

Chantal was a member of the Classification Board from 3 April 2006 to 2 April 2009.

Chantal worked 79 days as a temporary Board member during 2009–10.

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 and the Director received 7,302 applications in 2009–10, resulting in 7,178 decisions(1). Of these decisions, 6,468 were classification decisions including 6,122 commercial classification decisions, 258 classification decisions on on-line content referred by ACMA and 88 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.
  • No decisions exceeded the statutory time limit of 20 days for a standard application and five days for a priority application.

Timeliness of decisions

In 2009–10, all classification 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

No. of standard applications over 20 business days

No. of Priority Processing Fee applications over 5 business days

Film (public exhibition)

422

0

0

Film (not for public exhibition)

3,967

0

0

Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA

129

0

0

Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA

265

0

0

Computer games

1,055

0

0

Publications (including serial declarations)

284

0

0

Assessment of likely classification – film

53

0

0

Assessment of likely classification – computer games

5

0

0

Internet content

258

0

0

Total

6,438

0

0

% of total

100

0

0


Table 02 Overdue applications by reason for delay

Reason

Number

Workflow delay

0

Administrative error

0

Total

0


Classification Board workload

In 2009–10, the Classification Board received 7,302 applications and made 7,178 decisions.

Table 03 Applications received by format/source
Commercial applications

Applications received

Film (public exhibition)

425

Film (not for public exhibition)

3,983

Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA

141

Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA

271

Computer games

1,101

Publications (excluding serial publications)

228

Serial publication declarations

63

Assessment of likely classification – film

55

Assessment of likely classification – computer games

5

Other applications

Internet content

257

Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service)

220

Film festival exemptions

518

Fee waiver applications

35

Total

7,302

 
Table 04 Decisions by format/source
Commercial applications

Decisions

Film (public exhibition)

422

Film (not for public exhibition)

3,967

Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA

129

Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA

265

Computer games

1,055

Publications

225

Serial publication declarations

59

Assessment of likely classification – film

53

Assessment of likely classification – computer games

5

Internet content

258

Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service)

195

Film festival exemptions

511

Fee waiver applications

34

Total

7,178


Comparison with last year’s workload

Compared with the 2008–09 reporting period, the number of:

  • classification decisclassification decisions made on applications for films not for public exhibition (including ACA and ATSA applications) increased slightly from 4,314 to 4,361 (an increase of 1 percent)ions made on applications for public exhibition films increased from 394 to 422 (an increase of 7 percent)
  • computer game classification decisions made decreased slightly from 1,068 to 1055 (a decrease of 1.2 percent), and
  • publications classification decisions made (including for serial publication declarations) increased from 193 to 284 (an increase of 47 percent).

Cost

The current fee structure for classification services was introduced on 1 December 2005. The fees are set out in the Commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005.

To ensure the financial model continues to comply with the Australian Government’s cost recovery policy, regular reviews of classification fees are conducted. A review continued during the reporting period and is expected to be completed in 2010–11.

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 Operations Branch ensures the Classification Board’s standards are reflected in training programs provided by the Branch for industry assessors, and
  • standardised internal procedures for managing applications.

Publications

The Classification Board made 284 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This includes 225 single issue publication classifications and 59 serial declarations.

Table 05 Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

Unrestricted

77

Category 1 restricted

116

Category 2 restricted

29

RC

3

Total

225

 
Table 06 Commercial (single issue) publications applications refused classification by reason

Reason(2)

Number

Publications RC 1(a)

1

Publications RC 1(b)

1

Publications RC 1(c)

0

Publications RC 1(a) & 1(b)

1

Total

3


As indicated in Figure 01, 52 percent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 restricted. 13 percent were Category 2 restricted and 34 percent were Unrestricted. Three publications were classified RC (Refused Classification) which represents 1.3 percent of the publications submitted for classification.

Figure 01 Publication classification decisions

Figure 01 Public 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 07 Serial publication declarations granted by classification

Reason

Declarations granted

Unrestricted

7

Category 1 restricted

48

Category 2 restricted

4

RC

0

Total

59


As indicated in Figure 02, 81 percent of serial classification declarations were for Category 1 restricted publications. Seven percent were Category 2 restricted publications and 12 percent were Unrestricted publications.

Figure 02 Serial publication classification decisions

Figure 02 Serial publication classification decisions 

Film – public exhibition

The Classification Board made 422 decisions on applications for the classification of public exhibition films.

Table 08 Commercial film (public exhibition) decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

42

PG

99

M

185

MA 15+

91

R 18+

5

RC

0

Total

422


As indicated in Figure 03, 77 percent of public exhibition film classifications during the year were in the categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the M category.

Figure 03 Film – public exhibition classification decisions

Figure 03 Film - public exhibition classification decisions 

Film – not for public exhibition

The Classification Board made 4,361 decisions on applications for classification of commercial films not for public exhibition in the reporting period. These figures include applications made under the Additional Content Assessor and Authorised Television Series Assessor Schemes.

Table 09 Commercial film (not for public exhibition) decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

775

PG

923

M

1,087

MA 15+

690

R 18+

153

X 18+

714

RC

19

Total

4,361

 
Table 10 Commercial film (not for public exhibition) applications refused classification by reason

Reason3

Number

Films RC 1(a)

17

Films RC 1(b)

0

Films RC 1(c)

0

Films RC 1(a) & 1(b)

2

Total

19


As indicated in Figure 04, approximately 64 percent of film (not for public exhibition) classifications 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 19 commercial films not for public exhibition RC. This represents 0.43 percent of the total number of the films not for public exhibition submitted for classification.

Figure 04 Film – not for public exhibition (including ACA and ATSA)

Figure 04 Film - not for public exhibition (including ACA and ATSA) 

Under the Additional Content Assessor (ACA) scheme, applications that comprise previously classified or exempt film/s plus additional content (eg. 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 Authorised Television Series Assessor (ATSA) scheme, applications that comprise certain television series and series related material can be 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 1,055 decisions on applications for computer games.

Table 11 Commercial computer games decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

621

PG

246

M

108

MA 15+

76

RC

4

Total

1,055


Ninety-two 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.

No computer games classifications were revoked under section 21A of the Classification Act during the reporting period.

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

Figure 05 Computer game classification decisions

Figure 05 Computer game classification decisions 

Table 12 Commercial computer games applications refused classification by reason

Reason(4)

Number

Games RC 1(a)

2

Games RC 1(b)

0

Games RC 1(c)

0

Games RC 1(d)

2

Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b)

0

Total

4


Other applications

Exemptions to show unclassified films

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

During 2009–10 the Director granted 510 exemptions to applicants to show unclassified films at an event. The same number of exemptions was granted in the previous reporting period. These were primarily for film festivals and special film events. One application for exemption to show an unclassified film was refused.

Advertisements

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

Advertising assessments

On 1 July 2009 a new scheme for advertising unclassified films and computer games commenced. The scheme removes the previous prohibition on advertising unclassified films and computer games and 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 53 assessments of the likely classification of films and 5 assessments of the likely classification of computer games.

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 2005 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.

Exempt from classification 

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 (eg, 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 34 fee waivers during the reporting period. There were no refused applications for fee waivers.

Table 13 Fee waiver applications granted

Fee waivers granted

Film (public exhibition)

 

Full fee waiver

22

50% fee waiver

0

75% fee waiver

0

Fee waiver refused

0

Film (not for public exhibition)

 

Full fee waiver

11

50% fee waiver

0

75% fee waiver

0

Fee waiver refused

0

Computer games

 

Full fee waiver

0

50% fee waiver

0

75% fee waiver

0

Fee waiver refused

0

Publications

 

Full fee waiver

1

50% fee waiver

0

75% fee waiver

0

Fee waiver refused

0

Total

34

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 police(5), and
  • classifies material on application for 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.

Table 14 Enforcement applications decisions by agency

Enforcement agency

Publications

Films – other

Section 87 certificates(6)

Total

Australian Federal Police

0

0

0

0

ACT Office of Fair Trading

0

1

8

9

NSW Police

6

27

46

79

NT Police

0

0

1

1

Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading

0

0

0

0

Victoria Police

1

45

44

90

SA Police

2

0

3

5

Tasmania Police

0

0

0

0

WA Police

0

1

1

2

Australian Defence Forces Investigative Services (ADFIS)

0

0

0

0

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

0

5

4

9

Total

9

79

107

195


There were no enforcement applications for public exhibition films or computer games in 2009–10.

Online content

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies online content on application from ACMA and other applicants.

Table 15 Internet content decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

4

PG

43

M

31

MA 15+

43

R 18+

48

X 18+

10

RC

78

Unrestricted

1

Total

258

 
Table 16 Internet content refused classification by reason

Reason

Number

Film RC 1(a)

34

Film RC 1(b)

4

Film RC 1(c)

14

Film RC 1(a) & 1(b)

21

Film RC 1(a) & 1(c)

4

S 9A (2) (c)

1

Total

78

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 to mean:

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:

a. are likely to cause the publication to be classified RC; or
b. 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
c. 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 an Australian jurisdiction.

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 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. Publications with covers that are not suitable for public display cannot be classified Unrestricted.

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 284 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publications. This figure includes 59 serial publication declarations.

Out of the total of 284 classification decisions for publications, 84 publications were classified Unrestricted.

Publications classified Unrestricted by the Board during the reporting period include a 35 page publication containing landscape and portrait photography by the artist Bill Henson. The publication was submitted for classification by the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in advance of an exhibition it was holding of Bill Henson photographs. The publication, titled Bill Henson, Exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 6-27 May 2010, contained still images that are mainly of landscapes and images of Romanesque columns and statues, as well as ten portrait images of a long haired female model. In the opinion of the Board, the contents of the display book are bona fide artwork and the Board classified the publication Unrestricted.

Another publication classified Unrestricted by the Board was Hydro Lord – The Game. This publication consists of a board game which is similar in game play format to Monopoly in which players move tokens around a board. The players purchase a ‘set-up’ (implicitly a marijuana crop) and the winner is the first player to earn the largest set-up. The game includes discreet references to drugs and themes. In the Board’s view, the game’s irreverent tenor and discreet descriptions and depictions of drug and other thematic elements mitigates the overall impact of the publication to the extent that it can be accommodated at Unrestricted with consumer advice of ‘M – not recommended for readers under 15 years’.

At the request of the Minister for Home Affairs, this classification was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the publication Unrestricted with consumer advice of ‘M – not recommended for readers under 15 years’.

Category 1 Restricted

Category 1 Restricted 

Restricted Category 1 

During the reporting period, of the total of 284 publications classified (including 59 serial publication declarations), 164 publications were classified Category 1 restricted.

 

Category 1 restricted publications may include realistic depictions of nudity, realistic depictions of sexual excitement and detailed descriptions of sexual activity between consenting adults. Actual sexual activity may not be shown.

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.

Category 2 Restricted

Category 2 Restricted 

Restricted Category 2 

During the reporting period, of the total of 284 publications classified (including 59 serial publication declarations), 33 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.

RC (Refused Classification)

Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total of 284 publications classified (including 59 serial declarations), three publications were 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, 59 periodicals were granted a serial classification declaration. Of these, six were for a 24 month duration, 52 were for a 12 month duration and one was for a 6 month duration.

The Classification Board audits publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, 49 audits were undertaken.

After failing an audit, 7 publications had their serial classifications revoked during 2009–10.

Once the 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

The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines) explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category. Three essential principles underlie the use of the Guidelines the importance of context, assessing impact and 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.

General 

Films

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 817 films were classified G (General).

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 during the reporting period included Toy Story 3, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Princess and the Frog.

Although not mandatory at G, the Classification Board may include consumer advice in order to assist consumers and parents to make a more informed entertainment choice for themselves and those in their care. Toy Story 3 carries the consumer advice ‘Some scary scenes’ as the film contains some scenes which present a very mild sense of threat that some children may find scary. For example, some of the toy characters are on a conveyor belt at the rubbish dump which is rapidly approaching a large fiery incinerator and, after their pleas for help are ignored, the toys fall into the pit that has the incinerator at the bottom. Suspenseful music adds to the sense of threat in this scene. Right before the toys reach the bottom a large mechanical claw lifts them to safety. In the opinion of the Classification Board, the impact of such scenes is mitigated by their context in a light hearted, animated children’s film about talking toys.

The film Michael Jackson’s This Is It contained classifiable elements of violence and sex which the Classification Board found to be very mild in viewing impact and could be accommodated at the G classification. The Board did not assign consumer advice.

The animated children’s film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was found by the Classification Board to contain the classifiable elements of themes and violence that are very mild in viewing impact and do not warrant consumer advice. An example of a very mild impact theme is when a large spaghetti and meatball tornado forms above the city.

Large food items fall from the sky and the townsfolk run around frantically in fear and buildings are destroyed. The Classification Board found that the themes contained in the film have a very low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context.

The Princess and the Frog was also classified G by the Classification Board. The classifiable elements are violence and language that are very mild in viewing impact. Examples of the infrequent and very mild language include instances of ‘damn’ and ‘butt’. The film’s scenes of very mild violence have a low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. In the Classification Board’s view, the threat and menace in such scenes are mitigated by the colourful and comedic villains, the rapid dissipation of threat, and the overall tone of the film which is a love story. The Board assigned the consumer advice ‘Some scenes may scare young children’ to the subsequent version of the film which was not for public exhibition and which was also classified G during the reporting period. The Board was of the view that consumer advice was warranted for the not for public exhibition version of the film as the scenes that may scare young children are at the upper limits of what can be accommodated at G.

Hubble 3D is a 3D IMAX format film which allows viewers to accompany space-walking astronauts as they prepare to repair the lens of the Hubble space telescope. It includes close up footage of constellations, galaxies and life inside a space shuttle. The Board found that the film contained no classifiable elements and therefore warranted a G classification.

Series of television programs such as Hannah Montana, Masterchef, I Love Lucy, Alf, Thomas and Friends were classified G during the reporting period.

Computer games

The G classification is the largest classification for computer games. Out of a total of 1,055 computer games classified during 2009–10, 621 computer games were classified G.

Computer games classified G are suitable for a general audience. The violence should be very mild with little threat or menace to characters. Examples of computer games classified G during the reporting period are Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii Fit Plus, Zenonia and Rugby League Live.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a platform game featuring the Nintendo mascot character Mario who travels to outer space. The player takes him on journeys across various worlds, collecting stars to fight the evil Bowser and rescue the Princess. The Classification Board found that the impact of the game was very mild and it could be accommodated within the G classification.

Wii Fit Plus was also classified G in the reporting period. The game involves activities that are designed to stimulate exercise. Using a balance board, the player interacts with the game by choosing one of four main categories of exercise.

Zenonia is an action role-playing game in which the playable character seeks out the reason for the death of his adoptive father at the hands of a demon. The Classification Board is of the view that the violence contained in the game has a low sense of threat or menace that is justified by context. In the Board’s view, the highly stylised presentation of the game, with the arcade style graphics, mitigates the impact of the violence which does not exceed very mild considering this lack of detail. The fighting and attacks are, however, constant throughout the game and as such, the Board, in classifying the game G, considered the consumer advice of ‘Very mild violence’ to be appropriate.

Rugby League Live is a third person perspective sports game in which players select their favourite rugby league team and play rugby league in one off matches or for multiple seasons. The Classification Board found that the game contains violence that is very low in playing impact and has a low sense of threat or menace that is justified by the context of the game based on a contact sport. Animated players tackle and bring down other players. No depictions of injury, blood or wound are contained in the game. The Board classified the game G and assigned consumer advice of ‘Caution: Gaming experience may change online’ as the game features peer to peer connectivity without filters or other restrictions for coarse language.

Parental guidance recommended 

Films

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 1,022 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 require the guidance of parents or guardians. Some public exhibition films classified PG in the reporting period included Alice in Wonderland, Shrek Forever After, Where the Wild Things Are, Bran Nue Dae and Coraline.

Alice in Wonderland was classified PG with the consumer advice ‘Fantasy violence and scary scenes’. The Classification Board found that the classifiable element was violence that is mild in viewing impact, infrequent and justified by context. In the Classification Board’s view, the consumer advice of ‘fantasy violence’ best describes the style of violence in the film and the additional consumer advice of ‘scary scenes’ is also warranted as some scenes may frighten younger children. The Board issued a media release about this decision.

Shrek Forever After was classified PG with the consumer advice ‘Mild themes and animated violence’. The Classification Board was of the opinion that the film contains themes that have a low sense of threat or menace and are justified by context. The film contains themes in the form of witchcraft and magic. An example is when Shrek’s body turns into gold dust and he falls to the ground. Fiona holds Shrek in her arms and kisses him as the rest of his body rapidly disintegrates into gold dust and vanishes.

The film Where the Wild Things Are is a live action rendering of the well-known children’s book by of the same name in which the main character Max journeys to a mystical land where he becomes king of the wild things. The film brings to life the huge and fearsome creatures of the book. Their raucous behaviour, coupled with their size in comparison to the diminutive Max – a real child actor – creates an impact that is mild. The Classification Board classified the film PG with consumer advice of ‘Mild violence and scary scenes’.

Bran Nue Dae was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘Mild violence, sexual references and coarse language’. The Classification Board noted that, although the classifiable elements are violence, sex and language that are mild in viewing impact, the film also contains themes and drug use that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

The Classification Board found that the animated film Coraline contained themes that are mild in viewing impact and classified the film PG with consumer advice of ‘Menacing themes and scary scenes’. Pitched as something of a gothic horror film for children, the main character, Coraline, discovers an alternative reality where people from the real world (including her parents) exist but have buttons for eyes. A low sense of threat or menace is sustained throughout the film.

3D format films that were classified PG during the reporting period include A Christmas Carol 3D, G-Force 3D and Street Dance 3D.

Series of television programs that were classified PG in the reporting period include The Cosby Show, The Love Boat, Man vs Wild and The Simpsons.

Computer games

Computer games classified PG should have a mild impact. PG computer games are not recommended for playing by persons under 15 years without guidance from a parent or guardian as they may contain content that is confusing or upsetting.

The Board classified 1,055 computer games in 2009–10, and 246 computer games were classified PG.

Titles classified PG during the reporting period included Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2 and Super Street Fighter IV.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is a multi platform music game in which players can play guitar, drum or sing along to classic rock anthems. Players may also go on a quest to release the hero from his granite tomb and fight the beast. The Board classified the game PG with consumer advice of ‘Mild themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language’.

Toy Story 3 is a modified version of the multi platform action adventure game based on the animated feature film of the same name. Players take on the role of various characters from the film. This modified version includes an additional weapon of dynamite. The Board classified the game PG with consumer advice of ‘Mild animated violence’. The original version of the game was classified G.

Iron Man 2 is a single player, action-adventure, side-scrolling game for the Nintendo DS platform. The Board found that the violence in the game has a mild impact. There is no bloodshed, the graphics are simplistic and, as the game is played on Nintendo DS, the screen is small and the impact is lessened. The Board classified the game PG with consumer advice of ‘Violence’.

Super Street Fighter IV is a martial arts fighting game in which the player engages in one-on-one combat with various opponents. The Classification Board found that the game contains infrequent violence that is mild in playing impact and is justified by context. The game is a highly stylised arcade style fighting game. Game play includes punching, kicking and throwing with some weaponry. Impact colour flashes and sounds are seen and heard with no blood or injury shown during the game, mitigating the impact of the violence. The Classification Board classified the game PG with consumer advice of ‘Mild violence, gaming experience may change online’.

Recommended for mature audiences 

Films

The M (Mature) classification is the largest classification category for films.

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 1,272 films were classified M.

Films classified M are not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. Accordingly, they require a mature perspective of audiences of 15 years or over. 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 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Karate Kid, Avatar, Julie and Julia, and two films from the popular Twilight series New Moon and Eclipse.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood-Prince was classified M with consumer advice of ‘Fantasy violence’. The violence in the film is set in a world where characters use magic and witchcraft, where strange creatures and beasts abound and dark and menacing villains attempt to kill and cause havoc. The Classification Board found that the moderate impact fantasy violence is justified by context, and that the violence is at the lower end of that which can be accommodated at M.

The Karate Kid is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name. The Classification Board classified the film M with consumer advice of ‘Martial arts violence’. The Classification Board found that the classifiable element for the film is violence that is moderate in viewing impact, and also noted that the film contains themes and coarse language that can be accommodated at a lower classification. In the Classification Board’s view, the impact of the violence is heightened by the use of accentuated sound effects, replay and slow motion techniques, the ages of the children involved and by post action visuals implying injury and pain. Having given due consideration to the contextualisation of the violence within the film’s narrative, the Board is of the opinion that its impact exceeds mild and the film is therefore appropriately classified M with consumer advice of ‘Martial arts violence’.

On application from the film’s distributor, the M classification for The Karate Kid was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which classified the film PG with consumer advice of ‘Action violence, bullying violence and themes’.

Another film classified M by the Classification Board in the reporting period was the film Avatar. The film contains violence that the Board found to be justified by the context of a story about conflict between armed forces and a primitive warrior race. The consumer advice assigned by the Board is ‘Violence’. The Board also noted that the film contains language and themes that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Julie & Julia was classified M by the Classification Board with consumer advice of ‘Infrequent coarse language’. Coarse language may be used at M. Aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent and justified by context. The film contains one use of coarse language with a moderate impact. The film also contains occasional uses of coarse language which can be accommodated at a lower classification.

On application from the film’s distributor, the M classification for Julie & Julia was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which classified the film PG with consumer advice of ‘Infrequent coarse language’.

During the reporting period, two films in the Twilight series, New Moon and Eclipse, were classified M with the consumer advice ‘Supernatural themes and violence’. Both films contain themes involving supernatural concepts which are inextricably linked to depictions of violence that are moderate in viewing impact. The Classification Board found these elements to be justified within the context of a storyline involving vampires. In relation to Eclipse, the Board noted that the combination of the supernatural thematic element with the associated violence creates a cumulative sense of threat and menace that is moderate in viewing impact.

An example of a 3D format film classified M in the reporting period was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The film received the same classification and consumer advice (‘Fantasy violence’) as the 2D version.

Series of television programs that were classified M in the reporting period included All Saints, 30 Rock, Hornblower and Murder She Wrote.

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 1,055 computer games classified during 2009–10, 108 computer games were classified M.

Ninety-two 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.

Computer games classified M during the reporting period included Assasin’s Creed II: Discovery, Tekken 6, James Cameron’s Avatar the Game, World of Warcraft and two add-ons for World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King and The Burning Crusade.

Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery is a third-person, side scrolling, fantasy quest game for the Nintendo DS format. The Classification Board found that the game contains moderate impact violence that is justified by context. The violence is sword-based and bloodless and the characters disappear after they are killed. Selected kills are shown in a close-up, full motion video and it is these kills that, in the Board’s opinion, have a moderate impact. As such, the game was classified M with consumer advice of ‘Violence’.

Tekken 6 was also classified M with consumer advice of ‘Violence’ in the reporting period. Tekken 6 is a ‘beat ‘em up’ game where the player can control a variety of characters that each have their own unique fighting techniques and compete against different opponents to become champion.

James Cameron’s Avatar the Game is a multi platform computer game that is based on the film Avatar. The player can choose to be an alien (Na’vi) or a human and can move through 16 different levels to complete the game. The game contains violence that is justified by context. The Board is of the opinion that the sustained and frequent nature of the violence, as well as the realistic sound effects, increase the overall impact of the violence to a moderate level. The Board classified the game M with consumer advice of ‘Violence’.

World of Warcraft, the fourth core game in the Warcraft series, is a multiplayer role-playing game set in a fictional universe which can only be played online. The primary goal of the game play is character development, and progression in the game is non-linear with no clearly defined end. In the Board’s opinion, the cumulative impact of numerous and varied depictions of violence as well as the interactive mode of game play result in a level of impact which requires a mature perspective. As such, the Board found that the game warrants an M classification with consumer advice of ‘Fantasy violence, online content variable’ as the game is only playable online.

Two add-ons for World of Warcraft (Wrath of the Lich King and The Burning Crusade) were also classified M ‘Fantasy violence, online content variable’ during the reporting period. These add-ons introduce new quests, playing zones and character classes to the original game.

Mature Audience Not suitable for people under 15 

Films

Films classified MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied) 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.

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 781 films were classified MA 15+ (Mature Accompanied).

MA 15+ films contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity that have a strong impact. Films classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kick-Ass, The Hurt Locker and Stone Bros.

The Classification Board classified The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong sexual violence, coarse language and sex scene’. The Classification Board noted that throughout the film there is a theme of child abuse, incest and other instances of violence as a result of sexual abuse. The Classification Board also noted that the film contains violence and themes but that these can be accommodated at a lower classification.

Kick-Ass was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence, coarse language and sexual references’. The Classification Board found the violence and the coarse language to be relatively frequent and strong in impact. The Classification Board noted that the film also contains sexual references which could be accommodated at a lower classification. In the Board’s view the sexual references warrant additional consumer advice. The Board issued a media release about this decision.

The Hurt Locker is an intense portrayal of elite soldiers who disarm bombs in the heat of combat. The Classification Board classified the film MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong themes, violence and coarse language’. The Classification Board found that the classifiable element is strong impact themes. The themes surround the war in Iraq and the disarming of improvised explosive devices or bombs. The suspenseful and emotional build up of the action increases the overall impact of the film. The Classification Board noted that the film contains violence and coarse language that, due to their frequency and realistic nature, warrant the additional consumer advice of ‘Violence and coarse language’.

Stone Bros is a film about a young Aboriginal man who, with his marijuana-obsessed cousin, embark on a spiritual journey. The classifiable element in the film is drug use that is strong in viewing impact. The film contains numerous visuals of explicit marijuana smoking and the hallucinatory effect of consuming the illicit drug. The Classification Board notes that the film contains coarse language and sexual references that can be accommodated within a lower classification. The Board classified the film MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong drug use’.

At the request of the Minister for Home Affairs, this classification was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the film MA 15+ and assigned new consumer advice of ‘Drug use with strong impact’.

An example of a 3D film classified MA 15+ in the reporting period is The Final Destination 3D. The violence in this 3D film is in the form of accidents resulting in gruesome wounds and deaths, mostly viewed via post-action visuals. These accidents also make use of the 3D format to startle the viewer and to send blood and flesh in the viewer’s direction. The Board noted that the depictions of violence are mitigated by the schlock style nature of the effects and storyline, the overall tone of the film and the fact that the violence is inflicted by a series of events which trigger accidents rather than being inflicted by a person upon another. Board notes that the film also contains sexual activity that is strong in impact and language that can be accommodated within a lower classification. The Board assigned consumer advice of ‘Strong horror violence and sex scene’.

Series of television programs classified MA 15+ during the reporting period include Underbelly III – The Golden Mile, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order and CSI.

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 1,055 computer games classified during 2009–10, 76 computer games were classified MA 15+.

Computer games classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex, God of War III and Read Dead Redemption.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex is a first person shooter game for the Nintendo Wii. The Board classified the game MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence’. The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context. Players fire handheld weapons such as sniper rifles and machine guns, throw grenades and perform melee attacks. When opponents are shot, some blood spray is seen and occasionally blood pooling is depicted after opponents fall to the ground dead. The Board found the violence to be strong in playing impact and justified by context.

God of War III is a Playstation 3 action-adventure game based on Greek mythology. The player plays a character who sets out to seek revenge against the gods who have betrayed him. The Classification Board classified the game MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence, sexual references and nudity’. The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by the context of Spartan warriors battling Greek gods. Although prolonged and intense, the Board found the violence to be mitigated by the mythical, fantasy context. The Board noted that the game contains sex and nudity that can be accommodated within a lower classification, however, in the context of this game, warrant additional consumer advice.

The computer game Red Dead Redemption was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence, coarse language and sex scene’. The game is a third person perspective shooting game set in America’s Mid-West at the turn of the 20th century and has the tone of the Western film genre. The Board found that the classifiable elements are violence, language and sex that are strong in playing impact. The Board noted also that the game contains themes and drug use that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Restricted to 18 and over 

The R 18+ (Restricted) classification applies to films only. The 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 video or 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 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 158 films were classified R 18+ (Restricted).

Films classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo), The Horseman, and Antichrist.

A modified DVD version of the film Salo was submitted for classification as a two disc release which also contained a trailer for the film, a music film clip and documentary features. The film has a lengthy classification history and, in a number of different versions, has been variously classified R 18+ and RC (Refused Classification). A previous version of the film was recently classified RC in July 2008. The 1975 film explores themes of torture, degradation and sexual violence in the context of a narrative about a group of fascist libertines detaining 16 young males and females during World War II.

The Classification Board classified this most recent version of Salo R 18+ with the consumer advice of ‘Scenes of torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity’. In the opinion of the Board, the film had a high viewing impact and may be offensive to sections of the adult community. The Board found that the classifiable elements for the film are themes, violence and nudity that are high in viewing impact. The film contained violence that is high in viewing impact as well as implied sexual violence that is high in impact and justified by context. Within the R 18+ classification there are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes. In the opinion of the Board, the inclusion of additional documentary material provided the film with a broader cultural and historical context, which mitigated the level of offence and the impact of classifiable elements to the extent that the film could be accommodated within the R 18+ classification. The Board issued a media release about this decision.

At the request of the Minister for Home Affairs, the R 18+ classification was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the modified version of the film R 18+ and left the consumer advice unchanged. The Horseman is a film about a grieving father who is determined to find out the truth about the death of his estranged daughter and exact brutal vengeance on those responsible. The film was classified R 18+ by the Classification Board with the consumer advice ‘High impact violence’. In making its decision, the Classification Board noted that, though the infliction of violence is often obscured or off-screen, a high viewing impact is caused by the cumulative effect of prolonged scenes of violence and torture, as well as the use of realistic post-action visuals. The Classification Board found that the classifiable element is violence that is high in viewing impact and noted that its classification decision was made with respect to the cumulative impact of the entire film and not in relation to individual scenes contained therein.

Antichrist was also classified R 18+ by the Classification Board. The film explores the darker sides of relationships and issues including the impact of loss, grief, guilt and fear as a couple comes to terms with the death of their young son. The film contains violence and sexualised violence that is high in viewing impact. The Classification Board found that the narrative contextualises the film’s violence. The sexual activity in the film was also found by the Classification Board to be high in viewing impact. The Board noted that the sexual activity is brief, contextualised by the narrative and falls outside that of X 18+ material ie, that which contains only sexually explicit material. As such, the Board was of the view that the sexual activity contained in the film can be accommodated at R 18+. In its decision report, the Board noted that some material classified at R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community. The Board also noted that the film contains nudity and coarse language that can be accommodated within a lower classification. The Board assigned consumer advice of ‘High impact violence and sexual activity’.

Within the R 18+ classification category sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The majority of R 18+ ‘adult’ films that feature simulated sexual activity carry the consumer advice ‘Mainly concerned with sex’.

Restricted to 18 and over 

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 ACT and parts of the NT.

Films classified X 18+ can contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence, coercion, sexually assaultive language or fetishes or depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult. Films will be classified RC if they contain depictions of practices such as bestiality or have gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of sexual activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive and abhorrent. They will also be classified RC if they contain gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of incest fantasies or other fantasies that are offensive and abhorrent. 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. The majority of films that are classified RC are sexually explicit films containing these prohibited elements.

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, (4,361 of which related to applications for films not for public exhibition) 714 films were classified X 18+.

An example of a film classified X 18+ by the Classification Board during the reporting period is Club Jenna’s Casting Couch 4, which is a film containing sexual activity between consenting adults. The Board assigned consumer advice of ‘Explicit sex’.

RC (Refused Classification)

Films

Out of the total of 4,783 commercial films classified in 2009–10, 19 films were classified RC (Refused Classification). All of these RC classifications related to applications for films not for public exhibition.

Films that have been classified RC cannot be legally sold, hired or exhibited in Australia.

Computer games

Australian Government and State and Territory Government Ministers with responsibility for classification who must agree to the Code and Guidelines have decided that the highest classification for computer games is MA 15+. Accordingly, computer games with a playing impact that exceeds the MA 15+ classification will be RC.

In 2009–10, out of the total of 1,055 computer games classified, four computer games were classified RC.

Computer games classified RC during the reporting period included Aliens vs Predator, Left 4 Dead 2, Crimecraft and Risen.

Aliens vs Predator is a first person, science fiction shooter game which can be played in single player or multi player modes. The player is assigned a mission which involves combat with a range of player and non-player characters. The game is set in a futuristic alien environment. The Classification Board found that the depictions of violence in the game are accompanied by copious amounts of blood and gore, including ample wound detail and visible skeleton. In the opinion of the Board, the violence in the game causes a high playing impact due to its first-person, close-up perspective, conceptual nature and the level of explicit detail involved in the depictions. The Board found the game to be therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and classified it RC.

On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for Aliens vs Predator was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which classified the game MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a first person action-shooting game that can be played in single or multiplayer modes. The Board found that the game contains violence that is high in impact and unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play and classified it RC. The Board found that the game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The Board was also of the view that the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high.

On application from the game’s distributor, the RC classification for Left 4 Dead 2 was reviewed by the Classification Review Board which also classified the game RC.

Crimecraft is another computer game that was classified RC by the Board during the reporting period. This multiplayer online game is a third person shooting game set in a rundown city in which a player can play in various modes. In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation in the game between the fictional drugs or ‘boosts’ available to players in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. Boosts parallel the names, chemical elements, administration, treatment and addictive effects of real-world proscribed drugs and, when used, provide quantifiable benefits to a player’s character. The Board found that the game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and classified it RC.

Risen is a role-playing game set on a medieval island where the protagonist has to complete various quests to avert the apocalypse. These include quests which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual services of prostitutes. The game also contains references to, and explicit use of, a drug which, in the Board’s view, mirrors an illegal ‘real-world’ drug in its terminology, use and depiction. The player gains ‘experience points’ by using the drug. In the Board’s opinion, this game contains sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards and as such, classified it RC.

Other decisions

Online content

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified 258 online content items. This was an increase on the 77 such classifications in the last reporting year.

An example of online content referred to the Board for classification includes what appeared to be a page from the website Wikipedia, an online user generated encyclopaedia, that was referred from the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The page is titled ‘Vulva’ and includes five still photographs of female genitalia. The Board notes that, as submitted, the content consists of text which includes use of strong coarse language and still pictures only and does not contain any context. Within this context, the Board found that the content warrants an M classification.

The Board also classified what appeared to be another page from the website Wikipedia, that was referred from the ACMA. The page is title ‘Mons Pubis’ and includes anatomical facts and illustrations. The Board notes that, as submitted, the content to be classified consists of text and still pictures only and does not contain any context. Within this context, the Board found that the content warrants a PG classification.

The ACMA also referred to the Classification Board three items of online content relating to the death of a woman in an Iranian demonstration. The content of the first of these items consists of what appears to be a page from the Sydney Morning Herald website and contains a newspaper article entitled A Martyr Emerges from the Bloodshed and an embedded video news story (with warnings to the viewer about the distressing nature of the content) which includes a depiction of the death of a woman at a protest. In the opinion of the Board, the use of brief low resolution footage and warnings to viewers as well as the context of genuine news reportage mitigate the impact of violence to the extent that it does not exceed mild. Within this context, the Board considered that the content warranted a PG classification.

The second item referred by the ACMA consists of what appears to be pages from the popular YouTube website. The item consists of a page of user generated comments relating to the woman’s death and an accompanying video file in which her death is depicted. The comments provide a contextual background for the video footage. The Board found that the depictions of what appears to be real violence and its effects in this item are high in viewing impact and therefore warrant an R 18+ classification.

The third item referred by the ACMA also consists of what appears to be pages from a website and contains 39 pages of user generated comments on the woman’s death in an Iranian demonstration and an accompanying video file which depicts her death and carries a warning to the viewer regarding the content. The Board found that the depictions of what appears to be real violence and its effects in this item are high in viewing impact and therefore warrant an R 18+ classification.

Other examples of content referred by the ACMA and classified R 18+ by the Board include what appears to be a page from the website Wikipedia containing a stylised depiction of fellatio and a still photograph of explicit sexual activity between apparently consenting adults. The Classification Board found that the content contains sexual activity that is high in viewing impact. In its decision report, the Board referred to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games which state that ‘context is crucial in determining whether a classifiable element is justified by the storyline or themes…this means that material that falls into a particular classification category in one context may fall outside it in another’. The Board notes that, as submitted, the content appears to be in the context of an online encyclopaedia. Within this context, the Board found that the content warrants an R 18+ classification.

The ACMA referred content to the Classification Board which consists of a computer game titled Enzai supplied on a laptop computer. The Anime style game follows the story of a character who is placed in jail and convicted of a murder which he did not commit. Whilst in jail he suffers physical and sexual abuse from guards and other prisoners. The game is primarily an interactive story, however, there are several options to choose between to change the path of the storyline. In the Board’s view this computer game warrants an RC classification as it contains depictions of sexual violence that depict matters of sex and violence in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. It also contains descriptions and depictions of child sexual abuse involving a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18 years.

Exemptions to show unclassified films

During 2009–10 the Director granted 510 exemptions to applicants to show unclassified films at an event. These were primarily for film festivals and special film events. One application for exemption to show an unclassified film was refused.

Fee waivers

The Director made 34 decisions on applications for waiver of classification fees.

Advertising assessments

The Board made 53 assessments of the likely classification of films and five assessments of the likely classification of computer games 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

No decisions were made to revoke the classifications of films or computer games under sections 21A, 21AA or 21AB of the Classification Act.

Call ins – publications

The Director exercised his powers under section 23 of the Classification Act and called in 49 publications for classification during the reporting period. No responses were received in relation to Director’s call-in notices.

Call ins – films

The Director exercised his powers under section 23A of the Classification Act and called in 444 films 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.

The Classification Board received 1,092 complaints in 2009–10. The Board had received 970 complaints in 2008-09.

There were 16 complaints about publications, 194 complaints about public exhibition films, 91 complaints about films not for public exhibition and 194 complaints about computer games. Some titles received several complaints and other titles only single complaints. Twenty complaints were received about advertisements for films. There were 561 general complaints that there is not an R 18+ classification for computer games, and 14 complaints about other matters.

The films which attracted the most complaints were Bruno, The Princess and the Frog, Kick-Ass, A Christmas Carol, Land of the Lost and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The computer games which attracted the most complaints were Left 4 Dead 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Aliens vs Predator.

Many of those who complained about the decisions for these computer games also requested the introduction of an R 18+ for computer games.

Publications

The Classification Board classified 284 publications (including 59 serial declarations) in the reporting period. Three requests for information and sixteen complaints were received about publications from members of the public.

Of these eleven complaints related to books. Seven of these concerned descriptions of sexual or physical abuse of children in passages of the books. Two complained of other offensive content and two expressed the view that all books should be classified.

Five complaints were received about sexual or other inappropriate content in publicly displayed magazines. Three of these magazines were ‘adult’ type publications and two were general interest or lifestyle magazines.

Film – Public exhibition

The Classification Board received 194 complaints concerning public exhibition films. This compares with 120 complaints in 2008-09. The complaints were about a small number of the titles which comprised the 422 classification decisions relating to public exhibition films in 2009–10.

There were 33 complaints about the film Bruno. Complainants were concerned that the sexual references and nudity were too explicit and coarse language too strong for the classification. Many suggested it should have been classified R 18+. The public exhibition version of Bruno was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong sex scenes and nudity, crude humour and coarse language’. It should be noted that an application for another version of the film, not for public exhibition, was received with additional content. This version was classified R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘Sexual activity and nudity’.

Eighteen complaints were received about the G classified film The Princess and the Frog. The complainants were concerned that the G classification for the film was inappropriate, and cited scary scenes and supernatural and voodoo themes as being unsuitable for very young audiences. While the Board did not assign consumer advice for the public exhibition version of the film, it did assign the consumer advice ‘Some scenes may scare young children’ to the not for public exhibition version of the film that was subsequently submitted for classification. (For further information on the Board’s classification of this film, see page 38).

Eighteen complainants expressed the view that the classification of the film Kick-Ass was too low. Complainants were concerned about the portrayal of children in the film, and particularly their use of strong coarse language. The film was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘Strong violence, coarse language and sexual references’.

Thirteen complaints were received about the PG classification for A Christmas Carol. Complainants were of the opinion that the film’s scary scenes and dark themes were inappropriate for children, and were generally of the view that it should have been classified higher. A Christmas Carol was classified PG with consumer advice for ‘Mild themes and scary scenes’.

Land of the Lost attracted 12 complaints during the reporting period. These concerned coarse language and sexual references, which complainants considered too strong or too frequent to be accommodated at the PG classification. The film was classified late in the 2008-09 reporting period as PG with consumer advice of ‘Drug references, sexual references mild violence and coarse language’.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo attracted 11 complaints. Most expressed the view that the film should have been classified higher and made particular reference to sodomy and rape scenes. The film was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong sexual violence, coarse language and sex scene’.

Titles such as Coraline, Paranormal Activity, Harry Brown, Stone Bros, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and Bran Nue Dae all received fewer than ten complaints each and complaints were received about several other titles, covering a range of issues, which accounted for the remainder of the complaints.

Films not for public exhibition

There were 91 complaints about DVD releases of films and television series. Again, the complaints represented a small number of the titles of the 4,361 films not for public exhibition that were classified in 2009–10.

A total of 24 complaints were received about the Classification Board’s R 18+ classification for the film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo). Four of these complaints were received after the Classification Board’s decision but prior to the Classification Review Board’s R 18+ classification which was made following an application for review from the Minister for Home Affairs. A further 20 complaints were received after the Review Board’s R 18+ classification decision. Only one of these 20 complaints referred specifically to the decision of the Review Board as opposed to being a general complaint about the film’s availability with an R 18+ classification.

Most complainants expressed the view that Salo should have remained in the RC (Refused Classification) category. This film has had an extensive and controversial classification history since it was made in 1975. One correspondent expressed support for the R 18+ decision.

Four complainants expressed concern about the sexual violence in the film Last House on the Left. This film was classified R 18+ with consumer advice for ‘High impact violence’.

The films Blue Elephant and Gamer each attracted two complaints.

Blue Elephant was classified G, and the complainants were concerned about the amount of battle violence.

Gamer was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘Strong violence’. Complainants expressed concern at the coarse language, nudity and sexual references.

Single complaints were also received about violence, nudity, sex, coarse language and drug use in other films which, in the opinion of the complainants, either placed the material in the incorrect classification category or should have been noted in the consumer advice.

Computer games

The Classification Board received 194 complaints in relation to the classification of computer games. The Board made 1,055 classification decisions for computer games in 2009–10. Some titles received a large number of complaints while other titles received single complaints but overall, the complaints were about a small number of titles.

There were 156 complaints about Left 4 Dead 2, and ten complaints about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and ten complaints about Aliens vs Predator.

Of the 156 complaints about Left 4 Dead 2, 138 disagreed with the original RC classification by the Classification Board. Following an application for review of the Classification Board’s decision, the Classification Review Board also classified the game RC. A modified version was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board with consumer advice of ‘Strong bloody violence’. Seventeen complaints were received about the game being modified to fit into the MA 15+ classification. One complainant could not tell the difference between the MA 15+ version and the one classified RC.

Nine correspondents complained that the MA 15+ classification for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was too low, with many citing the violence and terrorism themes. One complained of an inconsistency between the classification of this game and Left 4 Dead 2. This game was classified RC by the Classification Board, but on appeal was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Review Board, with consumer advice of ‘Strong science fiction violence’.

Single complaints were received about several other titles, covering a range of issues, which accounted for the remainder of the complaints.

Four computer games were classified RC during the reporting period. These were Crimecraft, Risen, Aliens vs Predator and Left 4 Dead 2. Aliens vs Predator was subsequently classified MA 15+ by the Classification Review Board.

Advertising for films

Twenty complaints were received about advertising for films in the reporting period. Of these, 18 concerned the inappropriate placement of trailers with films of a lower classification. Two complained of coarse language in a trailer.

Exemptions to show unclassified films

The Director of the Classification Board granted 510 exemptions to film festival organisers to show unclassified films. No complaints were received in relation to these decisions.

Online content

The Classification Board made 258 classification decisions about online content. No complaints were received about these decisions.

Four complaints were received about censorship of the internet.

General

The Classification Board received 575 general complaints that did not refer to specific classification decisions.

Of the 575 general complaints, 561 were on the issue of there not being an R 18+ classification for computer games. The remaining 14 covered a broad range of classification issues including the application of consumer advice, the determined markings on film and computer game products, and an apparent inconsistency in classification standards.

Table 17 Complaints

Complaints

Total

Publications

16

Film (public exhibition)

194

Film (not for public exhibition)

91

Computer games

194

Advertising for films

20

General – issue of R 18+ for computer games

561

General – other

14

Total

1,090


Enquiries and other assistance

The Attorney-General’s Department responds to a range of other enquiries, often on behalf of the Classification Board.

This includes requests for general classification information, requests for reasons for classification decisions and enquiries about the classification of specific products. Other requests concern 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.


Footnotes

(1) Not all applications result in a decision. Not all decisions are classification decisions. Classification decisions include all decisions except assessments of likely classification and decisions about advertising approval, exemptions granted to show unclassified films and fee waiver applications.

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

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

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

(5) 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 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.

(6) 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.

Previous | Next