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Classification Review Board Annual Report 2010-2011

Classification Review Board Annual Report 2010-11

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Convenor's letter of transmittal

 

Letter of transmittal 

Introduction

The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) is an independent statutory body that reviews, on application, decisions of the Classification Board. The Review Board makes its decisions in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code and the classification guidelines. 

This report includes an overview of the workof the Review Board in 2010-11, profiles of Review Board members, a table of decisions, information on applications withdrawn, a table of attendance at meetings, a table showing the composition of Review Board panels, and complaints to the Review Board. 

The Review Board receives secretariat support from the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General's Department.  

Convenor’s overview

Victoria Rubensohn Convenor 

This is my third report as Convenor of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board). The year 2010–11 has seen two applications for review to the Review Board. The Review Board convened for two days and made two decisions in the reporting period.

The Minister for Justice made one application for review during this reporting period. This was for review of the PG classification of the computer game We Dare. The Review Board met on 17 June 2011 and also classified the game PG with the same consumer advice of ‘Mild sexual references’.

The other review was for Mortal Kombat in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Warner Bros Entertainment, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 15 February 2011 to classify Mortal Kombat RC (Refused Classification). The Review Board met on 11 March 2011 and also classified the game RC. The applicant for the original classification was also the applicant for the review.

The reasons for decisions for these reviews are on the Classification website (http://classification.gov.au).

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is undertaking a review of the National Classification Scheme in light of changes in technology, media convergence and the amount of classifiable content available to consumers. I look forward with interest to the outcome of the review.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee conducted an inquiry into the classification of media content in Australia. The Senate Committee published its report on 23 June 2011. The recommendations made by the Senate Committee will be referred to the ALRC to consider as part of its broad review. The Hon Trevor Griffin appeared as Deputy Convenor of the Review Board, before the Senate Inquiry into classification on 7 April 2011.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hon Trevor Griffin, who was first appointed to the Review Board on 22 April 2004, for his hard work and generous support. His final term as Deputy Convenor expired on 25 April 2011. The recruitment process for the Deputy Convenor position commenced during the reporting period. Mr Griffin is not eligible for reappointment as he has served seven years on the Review Board. Ms Ann Stark has been appointed as acting Deputy Convenor until a new Deputy Convenor is appointed.

The reporting period also saw the resignation of Review Board member Alan Wu which took effect on 18 May 2011. I thank Alan for his energetic contribution to the Board.

Conclusion

I would like to thank the Review Board members for their commitment and flexibility during 2010–11 and I look forward to continuing our work together. I would also like to offer my thanks to the Minister for Justice, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, for all of his support throughout 2010–11. Finally, I would like to thank members of the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department who have provided secretariat support and valued advice to the Review Board and its members over the past year.

Victoria Rubensohn

Convenor

 

Classification Board profiles

Victoria Rubensohn Convenor 

Victoria Rubensohn AM

Convenor
Appointed: 6 February 2009
Appointment expires: 5 February 2012

Victoria Rubensohn holds a Master of Arts Degree, a Master of Human Rights Degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree, and has been a Member of the Order of Australia since 2004. She has worked in radio and television in Australia and the USA, and more generally in communications, especially communications regulatory policy, for most of her professional life. Victoria has been a Member of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, a Member of the Immigration Review Tribunal, Chairman of the National Film and Sound Archive and of the Telephone Information Services Standards Council. She has chaired Federal Government committees in the communications and intellectual property areas. Victoria runs an international communications consultancy specialising in regulatory policy and has been involved in communications institution building in Europe and Africa. Victoria is presently a member of the panel reviewing the Mobile Premium Services Code. She has been Convenor of the Classification Review Board since February 2009.

Ann Stark 

Ann Stark

Appointed: 26 April 2006
Reappointed: 26 April 2009
Appointment expires: 25 April 2012

Ann Stark, 58, is a registered psychologist and mother of two adult children, residing in Hobart. Ann currently works in private practice specialising in couple and family therapy. She has served as an expert reporter in the Family Court and Federal and State Magistrates Courts on issues relating to the welfare of children. She is a member of the Psychology Board of Australia, the National regulatory body for psychologists. Ann is an Honorary Associate of the School of Psychology, University of Tasmania where she teaches family and couple therapy. She provides professional supervision for counsellors working with the victims of torture and trauma and for counsellors working with the impact of suicide. She has extensive involvement in a number of community organisations.

Helena Blundell 

Helena Blundell

Appointed: 17 September 2009
Appointment expires: 16 September 2013

Helena Blundell has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws awarded by the University of Queensland. She has worked as a Senior Investigation Officer for the Commonwealth Ombudsman in both Sydney and Darwin. She spent a number of years as an adventure tour guide in the Northern Territory’s Top End. Helena has worked for the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service as a policy lawyer and is currently employed with the NT Legal Aid Commission as a Criminal Barrister and Solicitor. Helena has been a board member on the Board of the YWCA Darwin up until April 2011 and is on the Youth Justice Advisory Committee, which is a body set up pursuant to the Youth Justice Act in the Northern Territory.

Melissa De Zwart 

Melissa De Zwart

Appointed: 17 September 2009
Appointment expires: 16 September 2013

Melissa de Zwart is an Associate Professor in the Adelaide Law School (University of Adelaide). She has a PhD in law (which examined the law of fair dealing) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons). Melissa has practised as a lawyer in both private practice and government, having been Legal Manager at CSIRO. She has published numerous articles on legal and social issues affecting copyright, particularly in the digital and popular culture context, convergence technologies, social networking, online games and virtual worlds. In 2008 she contributed to the ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) Virtual Group of Experts on Security Issues in Virtual Worlds and Gaming (EU). As the mother of two young children, Melissa has served as the president of a community childcare centre and has a keen interest in children’s entertainment as both a parent and consumer. In her recreational time, she enjoys books, manga, movies and computer games, and exchanging views on these with her students, extended family and friends both face-to-face and via social networking. Melissa lives in Adelaide.

Members who left the Review Board in 2010–11

The Hon Trevor Griffin

Appointed: 22 April 2004
Reappointed: 26 April 2007
Appointment expired: 25 April 2011

While he was on the Review Board, the Hon Trevor Griffin was the Deputy Convenor. Admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1963, Trevor retired from the South Australian Parliament in 2002, after almost 24 years as a member of the Legislative Council. For a considerable period of that time, Trevor was the State Attorney-General, and also held a number of other ministerial offices.

Alan Wu

Appointed: 17 September 2009
Resigned: 18 May 2011

While he was on the Review Board, Alan Wu had served as the youngest and longest-serving Chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, and with a variety of other community organisations, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Advisory Council and the Melbourne Journal of International Law. Internationally, Alan served as Special Envoy for Young People to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and as the only young person on the Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

Alan was amongst the youngest invitees to the Prime Minister’s Australia 2020 Summit, and is a recipient of a Young People’s Human Rights Commendation, awarded by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

 

Legislative base

The Review Board is established under the Classification Act. The Classification Act provides that the Review Board is to consist of a Convenor, Deputy Convenor and at least three, but no more than eight, other members.

The Governor-General appoints members of the Review Board. Under the Classification Act, the Minister must, before recommending an appointment, consult with State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for classification. The Classification Act also requires that regard is to be had to the desirability of ensuring that membership of the Review Board is broadly representative of the Australian community.

Decisions of the Review Board

Between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2011, the Review Board received two applications for review and classified two computer games.

In 2010-11, the Review Board made the same classification decisions that had been reached by the Classification Board for both computer games.

The Review Board did not determine a higher classification than the Classification Board for any of the items submitted for review.

All reviews were completed within the statutory timeframe. 

The written reasons for the Review Board's decisons are published on the Classification website (http://classification.gov.au).

Table 18 Decisions of the Review Board 
Title Media  Review applicant Date of review decision  Original classification Review classification
Mortal Kombat Computer Game Warner Bros. Entertainment Australia 11 March 2011 RC: Refused classification RC: Refused classification
We Dare Computer Game Minister for Justice 17 June 2011 PG: Mild sexual references PG: Mild sexual references

Applications withdrawn

There were no applications withdrawn.

Attendance at Review Board meetings

The Review Board convened for two days in 2010-11 to deal with two applications. Both of these days were meetings in person.

Table 19 Attendance at Review Board meetings
Review Board member Meetings 2010-11* Number of meeting days 2010-11 Meetings 2009-10
Victoria Rubensohn (VR), Convenor, NSW 2 2 6
Trevor Griffin (TG), Deputy Convenor, SA 0 0 6
Ann Stark (AS), Tas 0 0 5
Melissa De Zwart (MDZ), SA 2 2 5
Alan Wu (AW), Vic 0 0 5
Helena Blundell (HB), NT 2 2 2

 * If more than one meeting is held on the same meeting day, the number of meetings will be greeater than the number of meeting days

 

Table 20 Composition of panels in 2010-11

Title Number of meeting days Panel members
Mortal Kombat 1 VR, HB, MDZ
We Dare 1 VR, HB, MDZ

 

Complaints

There were 305 complaints received about the RC classificaiton for the computer game Mortal Kombat in 2010-11. Of these, 128 were received on, or after, the date of Review Board's RC classification of the computer game.

There were five complaints to the Review Board in relation to the film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo). In addition, there were two complaints in relation to membership of the Review Board.

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