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Annual reports 2011 12 classification board

Classification Board Annual Report 2011-12

Director's letter of transmittal

Letter of transmittal

Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240

Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au

Director’s overview

Director of Classification Board – Donald McDonald 

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all Board members, including temporary Board members, and staff assessors during the reporting period. I would also like to thank those who acted in executive management positions on the Board at various times throughout the year: Lesley O’Brien for acting as Director, Greg Scott for acting as Deputy Director and Amanda Apel, Georgina Dridan, Zahid Gamieldien and Moya Glasson who acted in the Senior Classifier position.

The reporting period also saw the resignation of Board member, Joe Guthrie, which took effect on 27 March 2011. Additionally, the seven-year statutory limit for one of the temporary Board members, Tracey Eades, expired on 7 February 2012. Due to other commitments, temporary Board members Chantal Chalier and Shane Wells also concluded their work with the Board. I thank them for their contributions.

I also congratulate Board members Amanda Apel, Zahid Gamieldian and Moya Glasson who were reappointed to their Board positions for a further term.

On 30 September 2011, my own term of appointment expired and I was reappointed until 31 December 2012.

During 2011–12, the Classification Board continued to fulfil its statutory duty and role in the National Classification Scheme, working efficiently to classify films, computer games and publications. 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 seeks to capture and reflect the diversity of opinion found in our community.

The film The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) attracted attention during the reporting period. This film was classified, reviewed and then newly classified as a modified version. It was classified by the Classification Board in May 2011 as R 18+ Restricted, with consumer advice ‘high impact themes, violence and sexual violence’. This version of the film was then the subject of a review in November 2011, and the Classification Review Board, which is separate and independent from the Classification Board, classified the same film RC. Subsequent to the review, the applicant modified the film and submitted it for classification. The Board classified the modified version of the film R 18+, with the consumer advice ‘high impact themes, violence and sexual violence’. This version was shorter in duration than the film which was classified in May 2011.

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

In this reporting year, the Board received 6,231 applications and made 6,263 decisions. This included 4,688 commercial classification decisions, 913 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and 105 classification decisions for enforcement agencies. Every decision was made within the statutory timeframe of 20 days and I congratulate the Board on that outcome.

One of the most significant developments during 2011–12 was the passage of legislation through Federal Parliament to introduce an R 18+ category for computer games. This reform, which was 10 years in the making, brings the classification categories for computer games into line with existing categories used to classify films. It also makes the Australian classification regime more consistent with international standards. The R 18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material. It will also mean that adults will be able to ‘read, hear and see what they want’, consistent with the National Classification Code.

The introduction of an R 18+ category for computer games has been the subject of extensive public consultation over recent years. The Attorney-General’s Department released a discussion paper on the introduction of an R 18+ classification category for computer games in 2009. It received 58,437 submissions in response with 98 per cent of these supporting the introduction of an R 18+ category. The R 18+ category also has the support of State and Territory Attorneys-General, who agreed to this reform at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting in July 2011. The States and Territories are to pass their own complementary legislation to ensure that R 18+ computer games are appropriately regulated. The R 18+ category for computer games will commence on 1 January 2013.

One of the most significant developments during 2011–12 was the passage of legislation through Federal Parliament to introduce an R 18+ category for computer games.

This year also saw the completion of the review of the National Classification Scheme (NCS) by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). In the previous reporting period, the then Attorney-General referred the NCS to the ALRC for review in light of developments in technology, media convergence and the global availability of media content. The ALRC Report, Classification – Content Regulation and Convergent Media, was tabled in parliament on 1 March 2012 and contains 57 recommendations for reform. I assisted the review as a member of the ALRC’s National Classification Scheme Review Advisory Committee. The Board also made a submission to the ALRC, in response to its Discussion Paper on the National Classification Review, in September 2011, and assisted the ALRC with its enquiries throughout the Review.

In summary, the final report by the ALRC found that the current NCS was in need of reform. The Commission endorsed the notion that any new scheme should be platform neutral to the greatest extent possible. It recommended replacement of the current cooperative scheme with an Australian Government scheme. Key players in that scheme would be retained including an independent Classification Board and a single regulator to oversee classification across all platforms and types of content, including television. It recommended that industry be given a greater scope to ‘self-classify’ material under classification codes, subject to oversight by the regulator. I should stress that the ALRC recommendations are just that and that decisions about which recommendations will or will not be implemented are a matter for government.

Key players in that scheme would be retained including an independent Classification Board and a single regulator to oversee classification across all platforms and types of content.

As a part of the Review, the ALRC commissioned a research study into community standards for certain content. The findings of this study are reported in Community Attitudes to Higher Level Media Content. This study used a series of forums to assess community attitudes to higher level content – that is, at the MA 15+ classification level and above. Community representatives, drawn from volunteers across the country, participated in a discussion forum which was facilitated by a social research company. Certain stakeholders were also invited to participate. A range of content was shown to the groups.

It is important to point out that the groups were not required to use legislation or guidelines as part of this process, nor was it the intent that these groups should attempt to second-guess the Board’s decisions. Unencumbered by legislation or guidelines, participants in these groups were able to simply react to what they saw. Of course, the Board cannot do that. The Board must use the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code, the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games to classify the content before it. Nonetheless, the work was important and interesting; I know the Board found useful insights in the research.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy conducted a concurrent review during the reporting period to examine the policy and regulatory frameworks that apply to the converged media and communications landscape in Australia. This is also an important review in the current environment where rapid technological change effects the way that content is delivered and accessed. It delivered its final report to government on 30 April 2012. That report broadly supported the ALRC recommendations as they related to classification in a converged environment.

During the reporting period, the Classification Board continued to liaise with stakeholders both at home and abroad. I attended two meetings of the Standing Council on Law and Justice (SCLJ) in July 2011 (in Adelaide) and April 2012 (in Canberra). This is the forum where classification policy matters are discussed by the Ministers responsible for classification. I also attended, with the Deputy Director, a meeting of the Censorship Officers Standing Committee (COSC) in Sydney in April 2012, which is a forum for officers to discuss policy matters before they are taken to the SCLJ. Even though the Board is not responsible for classification policy matters, we are an important stakeholder and, as Director, I value the opportunity to be present at these meetings.

During the reporting period, members of the Board participated in several events, to further improve understanding of classification in Australia, and to glean information on new technology and trends in entertainment content as well as community attitudes. I was a speaker, along with ALRC Commissioner Terry Flew, at the Macquarie Law School’s inaugural conference of the Centre for Legal Governance, ‘Tomorrow’s Law: Disclosure of Information – Balancing Public and Private Interests’, attended by the Deputy Director Ms Lesley O’Brien. Ms O’Brien also attended (with Board member Ms Amanda Apel) the Communications and Policy Forum in Sydney in November 2011; the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s citizen conversation series, ‘Young Citizens in a Changing Media World’ in Sydney in December 2011; the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association’s industry briefing in Sydney in August 2011; the Gametech conference (with Senior Classifier Mr Greg Scott) in Sydney in June 2012; and (with Mr Scott) the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast in August 2011. Ms Georgina Dridan was a panel member at the Melbourne Film Festival’s forum, ‘In the Realm of the Censors’, in August 2011; Mr Scott provided a presentation about the Board’s work for film studies and communications students at Melbourne University in August 2011; Mr Zahid Gamieldien participated in a panel discussion, ‘The Politics of Play’, as part of ‘Game: A Three Day Video Games Event’ at Sydney’s Macquarie University in October 2011; and Ms Moya Glasson attended the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) conference, ‘The Corporate Takeover of Childhood: Who’s Paying the Price?’, in Melbourne in March 2012.

Additionally, the Deputy Director attended the United States in June to participate in a Summit to discuss the possible establishment of an International Applications Ratings Council (IARC) – the IARC is proposed as a global model for the regulation of online and mobile games); to attend the annual international E3 computer gaming conference; and to meet with international classification bodies to gain insights into the operations, successes and challenges of their various schemes, including the Pan European Games Information (PEGI), USK (Germany), CERO (Japan), DeJus (Brazil), the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and the Entertainment Merchants Association.

The Board values relationships with international organisations and, in September 2011, welcomed a delegation from the Korean Communications Standards Commission; and, in November 2011, representatives from the Media Development Authority of Singapore.

The Board welcomes feedback about its decisions and this year, I responded to 234 enquiries about the Board’s decisions.

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

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

During the period, 56 publications were audited. Three publications had the serial classification revoked as a result of the audit.

During 2011–12, eight of the Classification Board’s decisions were the subject of a review by the Classification Review Board, one of which was for computer games and seven of which were for films (four of these represented 2D and 3D versions of two films). The films were classified by the Classification Board as follows: The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (R 18+), Happy Feet Two 2D and 3D (PG), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (MA 15+), A Serbian Film (R 18+), and Prometheus (MA 15+). The Review Board overturned all of these decisions, lowering the classification in each instance except for The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) and A Serbian Film, classifying both of these RC. The computer game The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut was classified RC by the Classification Board. The Review Board upheld this decision.

The Department has continued to review its systems which assist the Classification Board to do its work. During the period 2011–12, improvements to the workflow management system were made which provided for greater assistance and speed in the management of workload. A redevelopment of the classification website also commenced, and the Board looks forward to a website that will give those interested in classification a more intuitive and appealing experience.

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

Donald McDonald AC

Director

Classification Board

Classification Board group shot
Back: Left to right – Serena Jakob, Georgina Dridan, Joe Guthrie, Lance Butler, Moya Glasson, Marit Andersen and Zahid Gamieldien.
Front: Left to Right – Amanda Apel, Lesley O’Brien, Donald McDonald, Greg Scott and Tennille Burdon.

Classification Board profiles

Director, Donald McDonald

Donald McDonald AC

Director

APPOINTED 1 May 2007

REAPPOINTED 1 October 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 December 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Deputy Director, Lesley O’Brien

Lesley O’Brien

Deputy Director

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Before taking up the position of Deputy Director of the Classification Board, Ms Lesley O’Brien, 45, worked for eight years as a Senior Executive at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, most recently as General Manager of ABC Publishing (Books, Magazines and Audio). She previously held various roles in lifestyle magazine publishing including editor of Australian Good Taste and as a writer and chief sub-editor on titles such as Elle and Cleo.

Commissioned to write a biography of Mary MacKillop, Lesley’s book Mary MacKillop Unveiled was first published in 1994 and re-published in 2008. Lesley has also worked in Public Affairs for the New South Wales Department of Health, and between 1985 and 1989 was General Reporter and State Political Reporter for ABC Radio News.

Lesley has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of New England. With over 25 years’ experience as a journalist and publishing manager in the media industry, she has been closely involved with the community, writing and reporting on local news, events and people. She is a member of a regional community group and her local tennis club, where she is a regular participant.

Lesley is married, lives in Sydney, New South Wales, and has a teenage daughter and step-son.

Board Member, Greg Scott

Greg Scott

Board member

APPOINTED 3 April 2006

REAPPOINTED 3 April 2009

Senior Classifier

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 2 April 2013

Greg Scott, 33, was raised in Possum Brush, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

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

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

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

Board Member, Marit Anderson

Marit Andersen

Board member

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Ms Marit Andersen, 43, is married with three young children and lives in Lane Cove, New South Wales. She has a Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Journalism from the University of Wollongong. Originally from Norway, Marit migrated to Australia in 1990. Since 2007, Marit worked from time to time as a temporary member of the Classification Board. Prior to this she worked as a journalist, executive producer, translator and subtitler with SBS radio and television. Marit maintains a close ongoing relationship with the Norwegian-speaking community in Australia. She continues to have close ties with her local community through her children’s school activities and their sporting and musical interests.

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

Board Member, Amanda Apel

Amanda Apel

Board member

APPOINTED 3 April 2009

REAPPOINTED 3 April 2012

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 2 April 2015

Amanda Apel, 49, was raised in Sydney and has since lived and worked in a number of Australian states and territories as well as abroad. Her working life has encompassed the fields of advertising, photography, business and sports administration, tourism and primary industry. Amanda’s diverse professional experience, study and extensive travel have allowed her insight into a variety of cultures and social issues. Prior to taking up her appointment to the Classification Board in 2009, Amanda held the position of executive officer for Swimming Northern Territory in Darwin, a position that relied on close ties to youth sports and the community at large. Amanda now lives on the northern beaches of Sydney where her time away from the office is dedicated to the activities of her teenage sons and enjoying the beach and environs with family and friends. She maintains an interest in art, photography, writing and film.

Board Member, Tennille Burdon

Tennille Burdon

Board member

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

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

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

Board Member, Lance Butler

Lance Butler

Board member

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

Lance Butler, 40, comes from Springvale in Victoria. With diplomas in Business Management and Human Resources, Lance has worked as a team leader and trainer for Woolworths Logistics in the Melbourne National Distribution Centre for the past ten years. Prior to this he worked in a variety of roles in the warehousing industry and as a stable foreman for a racehorse trainer.

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

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

Board Member, Georgina Dridan

Georgina Dridan

Board member

APPOINTED 3 April 2006

REAPPOINTED 3 April 2009

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 2 April 2013

Georgina Dridan, 41, comes from Victoria where she trained for several years in television production and broadcasting and worked extensively as a local producer and researcher with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV) in Melbourne and internationally, with CanWest Media and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the eastern Canadian provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec. Upon her return to Australia, Georgina continued her work with the ABC as deputy programmer and acquisitions manager with the ABC’s digital networks.

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

Board Member, Moya Glasson

Moya Glasson

Board member

APPOINTED 6 April 2009

REAPPOINTED 6 April 2012

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 5 April 2015

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

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

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

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

Board Member, Zahid Gamieldien

Zahid Gamieldien

Board member

APPOINTED 18 May 2009

REAPPOINTED 18 May 2012

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 17 May 2015

Zahid Gamieldien, 27, 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 Laws 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.

Board Member, Serena Jakob

Serena Jakob

Board member

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 January 2014

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

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

Members who left the Classification Board in 2011–12

Board Members who left 2011-12 -  Joe Guthrie

Joe Guthrie

Board member

APPOINTED 31 January 2011

RESIGNED 27 March 2012

Joe Guthrie is 29 and, prior to his appointment, lived in Spring Hill, Queensland. Joe was born in Sheffield, England and has lived in both Papua New Guinea and Cairns before relocating to Brisbane to attend University.

Joe holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. He is admitted as a legal practitioner of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia.

Before being appointed to the Classification Board, Joe was a Senior Legal Services Officer at Centrelink and represented various Commonwealth Government Departments at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. He has also worked at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship where he undertook roles in character assessment and community liaison.

Joe has been involved in community broadcasting as a volunteer, hosting a weekly youth program on community radio, and has also been closely involved in community theatre. Joe has sat on a number of social and charitable committees.

Joe’s interests include travel, music and acting and he has featured in several national and international television commercials.

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.

Graeme Bradley

Graeme Bradley, 64, 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 70 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Emma Bromley

Emma Bromley, 38, 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 is involved in her local community childcare centre and primary school. Her interests include photography, craft and writing.

Emma worked 30 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Dianne Doratis

Dianne, 63, 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 has retired from work as a psychologist 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 56 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Geoff Geraghty

Geoff Geraghty, 59, has had an extensive and wide ranging career with the Australian Military. He has been active within the community through various school associations and local community initiatives. He recently served as a community member with the NSW Bar Association. He is currently involved with the Young Endeavour Youth Sail Training scheme and the Australian Navy Cadets. Geoff is married with three adult children and one grandchild.

Geoff worked 15 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Cate Nagy

Cate, 38, holds a Bachelor of Asian Studies (Thai) / Bachelor of Laws degree and is a Senior Associate with a law firm where she has practised as an intellectual property lawyer for twelve years. She is actively involved in her children’s school communities and volunteers at her local school providing remedial learning assistance.

Cate lives in Sydney but grew up in Wollongong, New South Wales. Cate has also lived and studied in Germany and Thailand and has experience of people from a wide range of cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

Cate worked 8 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Leanne Wilson-O’Connor

Leanne Wilson-O’Connor, 38, has worked for the past eleven years as the Aboriginal Education Officer at Stewart House, a charitable institution providing respite care for children in need. Leanne has travelled extensively around Australia and has spent time living and working in remote Aboriginal communities. She has been a member of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and is a member of her local Aboriginal Land Council.

Leanne has two adult daughters and has previously been a nanny to two young boys. She has an active interest in the creative arts and is a trained makeup artist.

Leanne worked 100 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

Sue Zelinka

Sue Zelinka, 62, began her career in ABC Television where she researched, directed and produced documentary films on a range of topics in both the arts and social sciences. After running her own research company, she joined the Human Rights Commission as a senior policy officer. Sue was appointed as a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal in 1997 and served there for ten years. She maintains an active involvement in the International Association of Refugee Law Judges and edits its international newsletter.

Sue lives in Sydney with her husband and Freddie the dog.

She worked 23 days as a temporary Board member during 2011–12.

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 6,231 applications in 2011–12, and made 6,263 decisions1. Of these decisions, 5,706 were classification decisions including 4,688 commercial classification decisions, 913 classification decisions on Internet content referred by the ACMA and 105 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.
  • No decisions exceeded the statutory time limit of 20 days for standard applications and five days for a priority application.

Timeliness of decisions

In 2011–12, 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) 510 0 0
Film (not for public exhibition) 2,325 0 0
Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA 245 0 0
Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA 524 0 0
Computer games 827 0 0
Publications (including serial declarations) 257 0 0
Assessment of likely classification – film 19 0 0
Assessment of likely classification – computer games 2 0 0
Internet content 913 0 0
Total 5,622 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 2011–12, the Classification Board received 6,231 applications and made 6,263 decisions.

Table 03: Applications received by format/source
Commercial applications Applications received
Film (public exhibition) 508
Film (not for public exhibition) 2,353
Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA 238
Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA 524
Computer games 857
Publications (excluding serial publications) 195
Serial publication declarations 53
Assessment of likely classification – film 20
Assessment of likely classification – computer games 2
Other applications
Internet content 866
Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) 121
Film festival exemptions 475
Fee waiver applications 19
Total 6,231
 
Table 04: Decisions by format/source
Decisions on Commercial applications Decisions
Film (public exhibition) 510
Film (not for public exhibition) 2,325
Film (not for public exhibition) – ACA 245
Film (not for public exhibition) – ATSA 524
Computer games 827
Publications 198
Serial publication declarations 59
Assessment of likely classification – film 19
Assessment of likely classification – computer games 2
Other decisions
Internet content 913
Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) 136
Film festival exemptions 474
Fee waiver applications 28
Revocation of classification 3
Total 6,263
 

Comparison with last year’s workload

Compared with the 2010–11 reporting period, the number of:

  • applications received decreased from 6,718 to 6,231 (a decrease of seven percent)
  • consequently, the number of resulting decisions decreased from 6,635 to 6,263 (a decrease of 5.6 percent)
  • classification decisions made decreased in most application categories except for films for public exhibition which increased from 472 to 510 (an increase of eight percent)
  • the further significant decrease in standard classification decisions made for films not for public exhibition from 3,361 to 2,325 (a decrease of 31 percent) was to some extent offset by an increase in decisions made on ACA and ATSA applications which increased by 19 and 34 percent respectively. Overall, decisions made for films not for public exhibition decreased by 22 percent.

Cost

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, resulting in new fees, continued during the reporting period and was completed in 2011-12.

Quality decision-making

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

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

Publications

The Classification Board made 257 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 198 single issue publication classifications and 59 serial declarations.

Table 05: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
Unrestricted 65
Category 1 restricted 111
Category 2 restricted 22
RC 0
Total 198
 
Table 06: Commercial (single issue) publications applications refused classification by reason
Reason2 Number
Publications RC 1(a) 0
Publications RC 1(b) 0
Publications RC 1(c) 0
Publications RC 1(a) & 1(b) 0
Total 0
 

As indicated in Figure 01, 56 percent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 restricted. Eleven percent were Category 2 restricted and 33 percent were Unrestricted. No publications were classified RC.

Figure 01: Publication Classification Decisions

Figure 01 – Pie Chart – Publication Classification Decisions Unrestricted – 33%, RC – 0%, Category 1 restricted – 56%, Category 2 restricted – 11%
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 classification declarations granted by classification
Classification Declarations granted
Unrestricted 7
Category 1 restricted 46
Category 2 restricted 6
RC 0
Total 59
 

The Classification Board audits publications granted a serial classification declaration. In 2011–12, three publications failed the audits and their serial classifications were revoked.

As indicated in Figure 02, 78 percent of serial classification declarations were for Category 1 restricted publications. Ten percent were Category 2 restricted publications and 12 percent were Unrestricted publications. No publications were classified RC.

Figure 02: Serial Publication Classification Declarations

Figure 02 – Pie Chart – Serial Publication Classification Declarations Unrestricted – 12%, RC – 0%, Category 1 restricted – 78%, Category 2 restricted – 10%

Film – public exhibition

The Classification Board made 510 decisions on applications for the classification of public exhibition films.

Table 08: Commercial films (public exhibition) decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
G 54
PG 105
M 215
MA 15+ 128
R 18+ 8
X 18+ 0
RC 0
Total 510
 

As indicated in Figure 03, 72 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 – Pie Chart – Film Public Exhibition Classification Decisions G-10%, PG – 20%, RC – 0%, X 18+ - 0%, M – 42%, MA 15+ - 26%, R18 + - 2%

Films not for public exhibition

The Classification Board made 3,094 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 516
PG 619
M 889
MA 15+ 620
R 18+ 85
X 18+ 352
RC 13
Total 3,094
 
Table 10: Commercial film (not for public exhibition) applications refused classification by reason
Reason3 Number
Films RC 1(a) 11
Films RC 1(b) 0
Films RC 1(c) 0
Films RC 1(a) & 1(b) 2
Total 13
 

As indicated in Figure 04, approximately 66 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 13 commercial films not for public exhibition RC. This represents 0.42 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) Decisions

Figure 04 – Pie Chart - Film Not for Public Exhibition (including ACA and ATSA) Decisions G-17%, PG-20%, RC – 0%, M-29%, MA 15+ - 20%, R 18+ - 3%, X 18+ - 11%

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

Under the 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 827 decisions on applications for computer games.

Table 11: Commercial computer games decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
G 395
PG 229
M 109
MA 15+ 91
RC 3
Total 827
 

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

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

Figure 05: Computer Game Classification Decisions

Figure 05 – Pie Chart - Computer Game Classification Decisions G – 48%, PG – 28%, M – 13%, MA 15+ - 11%, RC – 0.4%
Table 12: Commercial computer games applications refused classification by reason
Reason4 Number
Games RC 1(a) 0
Games RC 1(b) 0
Games RC 1(c) 0
Games RC 1(d) 3
Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b) 0
Total 3
 

Other applications

Exemptions to show unclassified films

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

During 2011–12, the Director finalised 475 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films at film festivals and special film events including one withdrawn application. The Director refused an exemption for two films within one of these applications. There were 506 applications finalised in the previous reporting period.

Advertisements

The Classification Board received no 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 19 assessments of the likely classification of films and two 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 2007 establishes the exempt markings. Only computer games and films certified as exempt from classification by the Classification Board can display these exempt markings.

The Classification Board received no applications to certify films or computer games as exempt from classification during the reporting period.

Fee waivers

The Classification Act allows the Director to waive all or part of fees payable under the Classification Act in specific circumstances, such as where it is in the public interest to do so for public health or educational reasons. There are also fee waiver provisions for non-profit organisations and for special interest material with a limited distribution in some circumstances (e.g. a short film from a new or emerging film maker) and where, in the Director’s opinion, it is in the public interest to waive all or part of the fee. The Director granted 28 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 11
50% fee waiver 0
75% fee waiver 0
Fee waiver refused 0
Film (not for public exhibition)
Full fee waiver 17
50% fee waiver 0
75% fee waiver 0
Fee waiver refused 0
Computer game
Full fee waiver 0
50% fee waiver 0
75% fee waiver 0
Fee waiver refused 0
Publication
Full fee waiver 0
50% fee waiver 0
75% fee waiver 0
Fee waiver refused 0
Total 28
 

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 police5, and
  • classifies material on application for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Enforcement agencies

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

There were no enforcement applications for public exhibition films or computer games in 2011–12.

Table 14: Enforcement applications decisions by agency
Enforcement agency Publications Films –
other
Section 87 certificates6 Total
Australian Federal Police 0 2 1 3
ACT Office of Fair Trading 0 2 16 18
NSW Police 0 27 39 66
NT Police 0 0 0 0
Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading 9 16 27 52
Victoria Police 11 24 36 71
SA Police 0 11 11 22
Tasmania Police 0 0 0 0
WA Police 0 0 0 0
Australian Defence Forces Investigative Services (ADFIS) 0 0 0 0
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 3 0 2 5
Total 23 82 132 237
 

Internet content

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies Internet content on application from the ACMA and other applicants. Internet content is classified as either a film, a computer game or a publication. Internet content is, however, shown separately in tables 15 and 16 below for reporting purposes only.

Table 15: Internet content decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
G 4
PG 6
M 14
MA 15+ 28
R 18+ 38
X 18+ 28
RC 795
Unrestricted 0
Total 913
 
Table 16: Internet content refused classification by reason
Reason7 Number
Film RC 1(a) 33
Film RC 1(b) 0
Film RC 1(c) 2
Film RC 1(d) 0
Film RC 1(a) & 1(b) 756
Film RC 1(a) & 1(c) 4
S 9A (2) (c) 0
Total 795
 

Decisions

Publications

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

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

– an unclassified publication that, having regard to section 9A or to the Code and the classification guidelines to the extent that they relate to publications, contains depictions or descriptions that:

  1. (a) are likely to cause the publication to be classified RC; or
  2. (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
  3. (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 the ACT, State and Territory classification enforcement legislation provides the Director with power to call in material from their jurisdictions.

Classifications

There are four classifications for publications – Unrestricted, Category 1 restricted, Category 2 restricted and RC.

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

Unrestricted
Unrestricted
Unrestricted M (Mature) Not recommended for readers under 15 years

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 257 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 257 classification decisions for publications, 65 single issue publications and seven serial publications were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2011–12 include People Magazine, The Picture Magazine, H & E Naturist and Australian Penthouse.

Category 1 restricted
Category 1 Restricted R Not available to persons under 18 years
Restricted Category 1 R Not available to persons under 18 years

During the reporting period, of the total of 257 publications classified (including 59 serial publication declarations), 111 single issue publications and 46 serial 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 in realistic depictions.

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

Category 1 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland. Titles of Category 1 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2011–12 include Hustler, Picture Premium, Best of Men’s World and Escort.

Category 2 restricted
Category 2 Restricted R Not available to persons under 18 years
Restricted Category 2 R Not available to persons under 18 years

During the reporting period, of the total of 257 publications classified (including 59 serial publication declarations), 22 single issue publications and six serial publication were classified Category 2 restricted.

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

Category 2 restricted publications can only be sold to persons 18 years of age and over and can only be displayed in restricted premises. Category 2 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland. Titles of Category 2 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2011–12 include The Australian Rosie, Swingers and The Australasian Sexpaper.

RC

Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total of 257 publications classified (including 59 serial declarations), no 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. All of these declarations were for a 12-month duration.

The Classification Board audits publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, 56 audits were undertaken.

After failing an audit, three publications had their serial classifications revoked during 2011–12.

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

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

Films and computer games

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.

Films
G – General

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 570 films were classified G.

The G classification is for a general audience. While many films at the G classification are targeted towards children, it does not necessarily mean that children will enjoy all films classified G. Some material that is classified G may be of no interest to children such as some documentaries or particular music DVDs. Popular G films classified during the reporting period include The Smurfs, The Lion King, Pirates! Band of Misfits and Dr Seuss’ The Lorax.

The animated children’s film, The Smurfs, is based on the characters from the children’s cartoon and features small, blue mythical creatures that live in an enchanted forest. When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours and the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. In the Classification Board’s view, the film does not contain any classifiable elements that exceed a very mild impact and the film was given a G classification with the consumer advice of ‘some scenes may scare young children’.

The film, The Lion King, is the story of a young lion exiled by his evil uncle who eventually returns to claim his kingdom. In the Classification Board’s opinion, the film does not contain any classification elements that exceed a very mild impact and therefore was classified G. The Classification Board did not assign consumer advice to this film.

Pirates! Band of Misfits, also an animated children’s film, was classified G by the Classification Board with consumer advice of ‘very mild comedic violence and coarse language’. The film tells the story of the Pirate Captain, who realises his chance to win the Pirate of the Year Award when Charles Darwin discovers that he has a pet dodo, a creature that is coveted by Queen Victoria. The classifiable elements in the film are themes, violence and language that are very mild in viewing impact. Examples of very mild impact themes in the film include subtle suggestive humour which generally occurs in the style of rapid-fire gags. The film contains violence that has a low sense of threat and/or menace that is justified by context. For example, the Queen holds the dodo’s neck down on a chopping block and raises a meat cleaver threateningly. The film contains infrequent use of very mild coarse language that is justified by context.

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax is an animated film based on the book of the same name. The story is about a young boy, Ted, who lives in a town where plants are made of plastic and where fresh air is sold in plastic bottles. With the help of his grandmother and the mysterious hermit, The Once-ler, Ted learns how the living trees vanished and determines to find one for his girlfriend, Audrey. The Classification Board classified the film G with classifiable elements of themes and violence that are very mild in viewing impact. There was no consumer advice assigned to this film.

Although not mandatory at G, the Classification Board may include consumer advice in order to assist consumers and parents to make more informed entertainment choices for themselves and those in their care.

Series of television programs produced on DVD that were classified G in the reporting period included Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Tony Bennett: Duets II.

Computer Games

The G classification is the largest classification for computer games. Out of a total of 827 computer games classified during 2011–12, 395 computer games were classified G.

Computer games classified G are suitable for a general audience. The classifiable elements should be very mild with little threat or menace. Examples of computer games classified G during the reporting period were Angry Birds, Mario Party 9, Disney Universe and Pictionary: Ultimate Edition.

Angry Birds is a puzzle computer game in which the player uses birds to aim and knock down structures made of various materials such as wood, ice and stone that shelter pigs. The object of the computer game is to remove all the pigs in the level. The Classification Board found that the computer game contained no classifiable elements and therefore the game was classified G.

Mario Party 9, is a game in which players aim to collect the most stars before the end of a playing board is reached. Players can choose from various Nintendo characters. Mario Party 9 was classified G by the Classification Board and no consumer advice was assigned to the computer game.

Disney Universe was also classified G. It is an action/adventure computer game in which the player can create avatars dressed as Disney characters and explore six different worlds based on Disney movies. The aim of the computer game is to defeat an evil hacker and rescue the characters trapped inside Disney Universe. No consumer advice was assigned to this computer game.

Pictionary: Ultimate Edition is based on the Pictionary board game where teams compete against one another by moving their pieces across a board while attempting to correctly guess the ‘clue’ word associated with other players’ drawings. This computer game was classified G and no consumer advice was assigned to the computer game.

PG – Parental guidance recommended
Films

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 724 films were classified PG (Parental Guidance).

Parental guidance for persons under 15 is recommended for films in this classification, as some children may find the material confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. Films classified PG in the reporting period include Happy Feet Two, The Artist, The Adventures of TinTin and Midnight in Paris.

The film, Happy Feet Two, was submitted for classification in both 2D and 3D formats. It is a requirement under the Classification Act to have both formats classified. The story focuses around the main character, Mumble, who saves the colony of emperor penguins from being trapped by an iceberg. In the Classification Board’s view, the film has a mild sense of threat throughout. The penguins face starvation and attacks by vicious skua birds as they wait for Mumble and his allies to help release them. Ominous music and dramatic dialogue helps to build a mild sense of threat or foreboding throughout the film. The Classification Board notes that the themes cumulatively combine to create a mild viewing impact and therefore the film is classified PG. The consumer advice provided for this film was ‘mild sense of threat’. Upon application to the Review Board by the applicant, this film was classified G with consumer advice of ‘very mild sense of threat’ (see page 69).

The film, The Artist, is set in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932 and focuses on a declining male film star and a rising actress, during the transition from silent film to the ‘talkies’. The story is presented in a silent film format, using black and white visuals and uses only a musical score as accompaniment. As the career of the main character spirals, he is viewed in a declining state, apparently drunk, depressed and penniless. The Classification Board considers these themes to be mild in impact and therefore classified this film PG with consumer advice of ‘mild themes’. The Classification Board notes that the impact of the themes is mitigated by the dated appearance and black and white nature of the film.

The film, The Adventures of Tintin, was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘action violence’. Based on the popular books of the same name, this film is an animated action adventure about a young journalist who stumbles onto a legend of lost treasure and finds himself pursued by villains who want the treasure for themselves. In the Classification Board’s view, the film contains mild violence that is justified by context and the impact of the violence is mitigated by the humorous tone and fast paced action of the scenes.

Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy about a successful Hollywood scriptwriter and aspiring novelist, who travels to Paris with his fiancée. Exploring the Parisian streets at night, he finds himself transported back to the golden age of 1920s Paris. In the Classification Board’s view, the film contains mild sexual references that are discreetly implied and justified by context and therefore the film was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘mild sexual references’.

Series of television programs released on DVD that were classified PG in the reporting period included Rawhide, Futurama, Glee and American Pickers.

Computer Games

Computer games classified PG are not recommended for persons under 15 years of age without guidance from parents or guardians. The impact of classifiable elements should be no higher than mild. Out of the total of 827 computer games classified during 2011–12, 229 computer games were classified PG.

Kinect Star Wars is a multi-platform action/adventure game in which the player must use their body to perform activities that include dance tournaments, pod racing and Jedi duels. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains violence and sexual references that are mild in impact. The violence is slapstick in nature with very limited blood detail when injuries are shown. The sexual references include suggestive dance moves and some song lyrics that contain sexual innuendo. This computer game was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘mild violence and sexual references’.

The computer game, Men in Black, is a third-person action/adventure game, where players assume the role of Peter Delacoeur. Peter is a once renowned archaeologist who joins the MIB as a temporary agent to help save the world from the evil Nethera, who plans to destroy the planet Earth. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains violence and language that are mild in playing impact. The computer game contains science fiction themes and violence that have a low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. The violence in the computer game occurs in the form of battles against alien characters. There are no depictions of blood or injury in the computer game. This computer game was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘science fiction violence and mild coarse language’.

Zumba Fitness Rush is a dance-fitness game for X-box and X-box Kinect. Players perform cardio dance routines by mirroring on-screen movements in time with the rhythm of music tracks while guided by six Zumba instructors. Modes include Single Song, Full Class or Zumba Party mode. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains themes that have a low sense of threat or menace and are justified by context. Dance moves and some song lyrics are mildly suggestive while other lyrics have references to violence and other themes. This computer game was classified PG with consumer advice of ‘mild themes’.

Little Deviants is a computer game title for PS Vita. The computer game consists of a series of mini-games, featuring a mischievous race of alien creatures called ‘little deviants’ which aim to showcase the interactivity features of the Vita system. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains violence that is mild in playing impact. While the game is presented using cartoon-style graphics with colourful backgrounds and settings, it is the opinion of the Classification Board that the violence is mild in playing impact. The Board classified the game PG with consumer advice of ‘mild cartoon violence’.

M - Recommended for mature audiences
Films

The M classification is the largest classification category for films.

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 1,104 films were classified M.

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

Films classified M by the Classification Board during the reporting period included The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Descendants, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Avengers.

The Hunger Games is a drama set in a futuristic world ruled by the Capitol where, once a year, one teenage boy and girl from each of the twelve districts is selected to compete in a televised fight to the death. In the Classification Board’s view, this film contains the classifiable elements of themes and violence that are moderate in viewing impact. Attacks occur with bows and arrows, spears and knives. The injury detail is sometimes bloody but it is implicitly depicted and is primarily shown in post-action visuals. While not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, these depictions of violence are mitigated by lack of wound detail, excessive blood or gore, as well as the thematic elements within the film. As such, in the view of the Classification Board, this film can be accommodated within the M classification. The consumer advice assigned to this film was ‘mature themes and violence’.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the last instalment of the Harry Potter series. In the Classification Board’s view, this film warrants an M classification with the classifiable elements being themes and violence that are moderate in viewing impact. In a dark fantasy context, the film contains scenes which convey a sense of threat or menace which includes magical sparring with wands, fire creatures and post-action visuals which depict some blood and wound detail. In the Classification Board’s opinion, the impact of themes and violence is mitigated by the episodic structure of the narrative, with threatening or menacing scenes occurring intermittently throughout the film. The film was classified M with consumer advice of ‘fantasy themes and violence’.

The film, The Descendants, is a dramatic film set in Hawaii about a man whose wife is comatose in a hospital. The plot is about dealing with grief and infidelity. In the Classification Board’s view, the classifiable elements are themes and language that are moderate in viewing impact and justified by context. The film also contains coarse language, which in the Classification Board’s view does not exceed a moderate impact. This film was classified M with consumer advice of ‘mature themes and coarse language’.

In the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, medication which is being tested on apes results in significant increases in their intelligence. As the apes become more intelligent, so too does their disdain for captivity. This film contains violence that is moderate in viewing impact. Humans are shown to attempt to subdue the marauding creatures with force, including the use of guns. Whilst in some instances minor blood detail is depicted, no significant flesh or injury detail is seen. The Classification Board classified this film M with consumer advice of ‘violence’.

The Avengers was also classified M. It is about the world’s most infamous superheroes battling evil. The film contains violence and themes, which in the Classification Board’s view are moderate in viewing impact. The film contains fast-paced, extended action sequences where the Avengers typically battle against alien enemies using their signature weapons and super powers. These battles involve hand-to-hand combat, as well as attacks with an array of weaponry including high-powered firearms, explosives, grenades and arrows. Such scenes take place in various locations across New York City and include car chases and air battles. This film was classified M with consumer advice of ‘action violence’.

Series of television programs released on DVD that were classified M in the reporting period included The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, Pawn Stars and Minder.

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 827 computer games classified during 2011–12, 109 computer games were classified M.

Computer games classified M during the reporting period included Batman Arkham City, Battleship and Jaws: Ultimate Predator.

Batman Arkham City is a third-person, action-adventure stealth game in which the player assumes the role of Batman as he battles enemy adversaries, solves puzzles and investigates crime scenes. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains violence that is moderate in playing impact and therefore the computer game warrants an M classification with consumer advice of ‘violence’.

The computer game, Battleship, is a first-person shooter game in which the player assumes the role of a Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician who must fend off an alien menace on land and sea. In the Classification Board’s view, the impact of the classifiable element of violence is moderate. The violence in this game is treated in an unrealistic science-fiction manner. This computer game was classified M with consumer advice of ‘violence’.

Jaws: Ultimate Predator was also classified M with consumer advice of ‘violence’. This game is based on the ‘Jaws’ film franchise. This game is for the Nintendo Wii and allows players to control a shark who roams the waters surrounding Amity Island. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game warrants an M classification as the impact of the classifiable element of violence is moderate and the depictions of violence are justified by context. In order to avoid being killed and to progress through the game, Jaws must frequently attack and kill both humans and other sea creatures. The player is able to instigate a number of different styles of attack against the non-playable characters including ‘chomp’, ‘tail slice’, ‘devastate’ and ‘deep hunger’. The impact of the attacks can be increased through upgrading the shark’s teeth and tail, and his defences can be boosted by upgrading his skin. Attacks on either humans or other sea creatures result in small blood puffs being visible in the water. No wound detail or dismemberment is seen.

MA 15+ Restricted Not recommended for people under 15. Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
Films

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

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 748 films were classified MA 15+. Films that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, American Reunion, The Devil Inside and Prometheus.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn– Part 1 was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘strong themes’. This film is the first part in the fourth instalment of the Twilight saga. The story of 18-year-old Bella Swan and her vampire love, Edward Cullen, continues as they wed and she gives birth to their child. In the Classification Board’s view, the classifiable element of themes is strong in viewing impact, with the thematic elements relating to the pregnancy and the birth subject to a supernatural treatment, within the context of the vampire narrative. The Classification Board notes that the film also contains sexual references and violence that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

On application from the film’s distributor, the MA 15+ classification for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was reviewed by the Review Board who classified the film M with consumer advice ‘supernatural themes and medical procedures’ (see page 68).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a film about a journalist and a troubled computer hacker who investigate the disappearance of a woman. The Classification Board notes that this film contains the classifiable elements of sex, themes and violence that are strong in viewing impact. The Classification Board notes that throughout the film there are themes of child abuse, incest and other instances of violence as a result of sexual abuse which can be subsumed under the consumer advice of ‘strong sexual violence’. The film also contains a scene of implied sexual activity that is strong in impact. This film was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice of ‘strong sexual violence, themes, sex scenes and violence’.

American Reunion is part of the American Pie franchise. The characters reunite for their high-school reunion. In the Classification Board’s view, this film warrants an MA 15+ classification as the impact of the classifiable elements is strong. The classifiable elements are themes, sex and nudity. The film contains strong themes in the form of crude humour that are justified by context. The film also contains implied sexual activity, sexual references and nudity that are strong in impact. The Classification Board also notes that the film contains drug use and coarse language that can be accommodated within a lower classification. This film was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘strong sexual references, crude humour and nudity’.

The film, The Devil Inside, was also classified MA 15+ during the reporting period. The Devil Inside is a documentary-style, supernatural-horror film, shot with a hand-held camera. The story centres on a woman who becomes involved in a series of exorcisms during her quest to determine what happened to her mother, a woman who murdered three people when possessed by a demon. The Classification Board assigned the consumer ‘strong themes, violence and coarse language’. The film contains strong themes and violence that are inextricably linked and justified by context, as well as strong coarse language. The Classification Board notes that the film contains sexual references that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified Prometheus MA 15+ with the consumer advice of ‘strong science fiction violence’. Prometheus is a science-fiction horror epic, set in 2093. The story centres on the crew of the spaceship, Prometheus, as they search for the origins of humanity on an alien planet. In the Classification Board’s view the film contains science-fiction themes and violence that are inextricably linked, strong in impact and justified by context. The film contains numerous scenes of strong violence in which members of the Prometheus crew are attacked and/or infected by deadly and monstrous alien creatures. Depictions include breaking bones, gaping wounds, acid attacks, gunfire and bodies engulfed in flames, which are accompanied by wound and generous blood detail. The Classification Board also notes that the film contains coarse language that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

On application from the film’s distributor, the MA 15+ classification for Prometheus was reviewed by the Classification Review Board who classified the film M with consumer advice ‘moderate science fiction violence and a medical procedure’ (see page 69).

Series of television programs released on DVD which were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Bones, Californication, Boardwalk Empire and The Straits.

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 827 computer games classified during 2011–12, 91 computer games were classified MA 15+.

Computer games classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Saints Row the Third, Mass Effect 3 and Max Payne 3.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a first-person shooter computer game about a terrorist mastermind. As part of an elite Special Forces Team, a player has to undertake missions in a variety of countries to thwart the terrorist’s plans. The Classification Board is of the opinion that the game contains violence that is strong in impact. The depictions of violence take place predominantly from a distance as a player shoots enemy combatants. Generally, blood spray is noted when enemies are shot. This computer game therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification, with the consumer advice of ‘strong violence’.

Saints Row the Third is a comedic action game. A player controls a character who is a member of a gang trying to take over a city. The player has to complete missions to claim territory within the city. In the Classification Board’s view, the classifiable elements are themes, violence, sex and language that are strong in playing impact. The sexual themes are generally dealt with in a humorous context, for example, it is possible to customise a character’s appearance by selecting bondage style outfits for the character to wear. Depicted in third-person perspective, the game contains violence throughout which is accompanied by blood detail. The Classification Board notes that the game’s online components warrant additional consumer advice of ‘gaming experience may change online’. The Classification Board also notes that the game contains drug references that can be accommodated within a lower classification. This computer game was classified MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of ‘strong sexual and crime themes, violence and coarse language, gaming experience may change online’.

Mass Effect 3 is the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy of computer games. This is a role-play computer game with the player as Commander Shepard, who continues his mission to save the galaxy from the reapers by rallying civilisations of the galaxy together. In the Classification Board’s view, the frequency of the violence and associated blood spray result in a strong playing impact. The computer game also requires the consumer advice of ‘sex scenes’ due to depictions of implied sexual activity. The Classification Board also notes that the game contains language that can be accommodated within a lower classification. This computer game is classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice of ‘strong violence and sex scenes’.

Max Payne 3 was also classified MA 15+. This computer game is a third-person shooter style game which finds the former detective working as a private security contractor for a wealthy family in Brazil. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game contains violence, language and sex scenes that are strong in impact. While most shootouts are depicted from a distance, occasionally violence is shown in close-up. During melee combat, a player can strike enemies with their fists or a firearm before shooting them from close range. When this occurs, blood spray is seen but wound detail is limited. The computer game also contains implied sexual activity in the form of activity that occurs within a strip club. The Classification Board notes that the computer game contains themes, nudity, sexual references and drug use that can be accommodated within a lower classification. Additionally, the computer game contains online functionality that warrants consumer advice of ‘gaming experience may change online’. It is the Classification Board’s view that this computer game warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of ‘strong violence, coarse language and sex scenes, gaming experience may change online’.

R 18+ Restricted - Restricted to 18 and over 

The R 18+ 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 DVD. The impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to some sections of the adult community.

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 93 films were classified R 18+.

Films classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Shame and a modified version of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence).

Shame is a film about a New York executive seeking sexual encounters to allay his boredom with a secure existence. This film contains frequent sexual activity, including scenes of prolonged group sex, which are realistically simulated and high in impact. The Classification Board notes that the film contains themes, sexual references, violence, drug use and coarse language that can be accommodated within a lower classification. In the Classification Board’s view, this film warranted an R 18+ classification with the consumer advice of ‘high impact sex scenes’.

A modified version of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) was classified during the reporting period. This version of the film was classified R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘high impact themes, violence and sexual violence’. In this black and white film, Martin, a psychologically damaged man, develops an unhealthy obsession with the film, ‘The Human Centipede’, and becomes determined to create his own human centipede. In the opinion of the Classification Board, the film contains themes, violence and sexual violence that is high in viewing impact. The scenes of violence are graphic and detailed and include torture and surgical manipulation and may be offensive to sections of the adult community.

A longer version of this film was previously classified R 18+ by the Classification Board, and during the reporting period, this version of the film was reviewed and was Refused Classification by the Review Board (see page 68).

Series of television programs released on DVD which were classified R 18+ during the reporting period included True Blood and Game of Thrones.

X 18+ Restricted - 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 Australian Capital Territory and parts of the Northern Territory.

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

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 352 films were classified X 18+.

Films classified X 18+ during the reporting period included sexually explicit parodies of Star Wars, Spider-Man, Star Trek the Next Generation and Anchorman.

RC Refused Classification

Films

Out of the total of 3,604 commercial films classified in 2011–12, 13 films were classified RC.

Films that are classified RC cannot be legally sold, hired or exhibited in Australia. 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 or 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; as will films depicting gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact, including sexual violence. The majority of films that are classified RC are sexually explicit films containing these prohibited elements.

In the reporting period, the Classification Board Refused Classification to 795 items of Internet content. These applications were made by the ACMA. The majority of these decisions contained content that was refused classification under item 1 (b) of the National Classification Code, for depicting minors in an offensive way that would offend a reasonable adult (see page 42 for breakdown of statistics).

In total, 913 classification decisions were made by the Classification Board on Internet content referred by the ACMA.

Computer Games

The highest classification for computer games is MA 15+. Accordingly, computer games with a playing impact that exceeds the MA 15+ classification will be classified RC.

In 2011–12, out of the total of 827 computer games classified, three computer games were classified RC.

The computer games that were classified RC during the reporting period were Mortal Kombat 9 – Game of the Year, Syndicate and The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut.

Mortal Kombat 9 – Game of the Year is a modified version of the fighting computer game Mortal Kombat, which is RC. This modified version is designed for the PS Vita and it appears to contain all the material from the original computer game with some additional features. In the Classification Board’s view, this computer game warranted an RC classification in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Code (see page 88). The computer game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is therefore unsuitable for those aged under 18 years to play. For the most part, violence of the highest impact is noted in the fatality moves which are performed by pushing a series of button combinations within a short period of time. If the move is executed successfully, a short non-interactive full motion video is triggered depicting the winning character explicitly slaughtering an opponent. Visual depictions of violence within these fatalities are accompanied by vivid sound effects that heighten impact. In the Classification Board’s opinion, the relatively small size of the PS Vita gaming screen does not mitigate the impact of violence to the extent that it could be accommodated at the MA 15+ classification, especially giving consideration to the clear and detailed graphics that are rendered.

Syndicate is a first-person shooter-style computer game that is set in a futuristic world where people have computer chips in their brains, allowing them to interact with the ‘dateverse’. A player controls an operative who completes missions. The computer game contains intense sequences of violence which include detailed depictions of decapitation and dismemberment that are high in playing impact. The computer game also contains the ability to inflict repeated and realistic post-mortem damage which exceeds a strong playing impact. In the view of the Classification Board, it is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and is classified RC in accordance with item 1(d) of the computer games table of the Code (see page 88).

The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut is for the Play Station 3 and is an updated version of the previously classified game, The House of the Dead: Overkill. The computer game, which can be played in 3D using a move controller, is a first-person shooter-style game where the aim is to exterminate zombies and mutant beings using a variety of weapons. In the Classification Board’s view, the additional modes included in this modified version and the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence and, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high. This computer game was determined to be unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play and was classified RC.

On application from the computer game’s distributor, the RC classification for The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut was reviewed by the Classification Review Board who classified the computer game MA 15+ with the consumer advice of ‘strong horror violence, strong coarse language’ (see page 68).

Other decisions

Internet Content

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified 913 Internet content items.

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

The first item consists of a mobile phone application titled 5 Min Reload or 5 Minutes to Kill Yourself Reload. The application is a simple game in which an office worker wanders around their building injuring themselves in a generally unrealistic way in an attempt to run down their life meter before an impending meeting. The classifiable elements are themes and violence that are moderate in impact. The Classification Board classified this mobile phone application M.

Another item that was submitted for classification was text from website pages called Dead Baby Jokes. The classifiable elements are themes and sexual references that are strong in viewing impact. In the Classification Board’s view, this content warranted an MA 15+ classification as the impact of the classifiable elements was strong.

Another item submitted for classification consisted of a website page containing images of female genitalia. In the view of the Classification Board, the image, as presented and in the context of an online encyclopaedia, has no sexualised context or tone. As such, the image was determined to have valid educational merit, was very mild in impact and could be accommodated within the G classification.

A website page containing jokes relating to circumcision was also submitted for classification. In the Classification Board’s view, the classifiable elements of themes and nudity were mild in impact therefore the item was classified PG.

The Classification Board also viewed a website page containing text and images about trapping peregrine falcons. It is the view of the Classification Board that the material promotes the crime of trapping and killing a protected species and therefore it was classified RC.

Exemptions To Show Unclassified Films

During 2011–12, the Director finalised 475 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films at film festivals and special film events. The Director refused an exemption for two films from one applicant and one film from a different applicant. There were 506 applications finalised in the previous reporting period.

Fee Waivers

The Director granted 28 fee waivers during the reporting period.

Advertising Assessments

The Board made 19 assessments of the likely classification of films and two 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

Three publications had their serial classification declaration revoked under subsection 13(5) of the Classification Act during this reporting period.

Call Ins – Publications

The Director exercised his call in powers and called in one publication for classification during the reporting period. The distributor did not respond to the Director’s call-in notice.

Call Ins – Films

The Director called in 26 films for classification during the reporting period. The films were called in from two different distributors. Advice was received that one of the distributors of some of the films was no longer operating in Australia. The other distributor did not respond to the call-in notice.

Call Ins – Computer Games

The Director called in one computer game for classification during the reporting period. The distributor of the computer game complied with the call-in notice.

Correspondence

Complaints

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

During the reporting period, the Classification Board received 234 complaints. There were:

  • 12 complaints about decisions for publications
  • 72 complaints about decisions for public exhibition films
  • 73 complaints about decisions for films not for public exhibition (DVD release)
  • 35 complaints about decisions for computer games
  • 30 other complaints where it was not clear if the complaint related to a film shown in the cinema or a film released on DVD; and other associated classification matters
  • four complaints received about advertising (three for film advertising, one for computer games advertising)
  • eight complaints about matters relating to film festivals

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

The films which attracted the most complaints were Bad Teacher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), The Hunger Games, A Serbian Film, and Snowtown. The computer game which attracted the most complaints was Syndicate. The publication which attracted the most complaints was an unclassified children’s book called Go the F*ck to Sleep.

Publications

The Classification Board made 257 classification decisions for publications in the reporting period (this included 59 serial publication declarations). Twelve complaints were received about publications during 2011–12. This compares with ten complaints about publications in 2010–11.

Of these, three complaints related to a book called Go the F*ck to Sleep, a book written in the style of a classic children’s bedtime story. The narrative includes adult profanity as commentary on the tricks used by the main character, a child, to avoid having to go to bed. There were two complaints about several parenting books relating to the titles To Train a Child, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Spanking – a Loving Discipline and Spanking – Why, When and How. There was one complaint about the board game Kittens in a Blender (under the Classification Act, a board game is considered to be a publication). The remaining six complaints were about individual publications.

Films

Public exhibition

The Classification Board received 72 complaints about the classifications of films while they were being screened in cinemas. This compares with 80 complaints in 2010–11. The complaints were about a small number of titles which comprised the 510 classification decisions relating to public exhibition films in 2011–12.

There were 17 complaints about The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, (15 of these complaints were made when the film was showing in cinemas and a further two complaints were made when the film was released on DVD). The majority of the complainants were of the view that the MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of ‘strong sexual violence, themes, sex scenes and violence’ was too low. Complainants referred to a violent rape scene in the film as an example of why the classification of this film was too low.

There were 15 complaints about the classification for Bad Teacher being too low. (13 of these complaints were made when the film was showing in cinemas and a further two complaints were made when the film was released on DVD). The film is classified M with the consumer advice of ‘sexual references, sex scene, drug use and coarse language’. Complainants raised issues such as frequent drug scenes, coarse language, nudity and sex scenes as reasons why the classification of the film was too low.

There were nine complaints about The Hunger Games which is classified M with the consumer advice of ‘mature themes and violence’. All complaints about this film were that it is classified too low. The majority of complainants were concerned about the violence and the theme of teenagers fighting to the death.

Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn-Part 1 was originally classified MA 15+ by the Classification Board with the consumer advice ‘strong themes’. Three complaints were received by the Classification Board about this film, two with the view that the classification is too high and the remaining complainant was of the view that the classification is too low. The film was subsequently reviewed by the Classification Review Board which overturned the original decision of MA 15+ and classified the film M with the consumer advice of ‘supernatural themes and medical procedures’.

There were three complaints that the classification of Pirates! Band of Misfits, which is classified G with consumer advice ‘very mild comedic violence and coarse language’, is too low. The complainants considered that the film was inappropriate for very young children.

Films not for public exhibition

There were 73 complaints about DVD releases of films. Again, the complaints related to a small number of the titles which comprised the 3,094 classification decisions for films not for public exhibition in 2011–12. This compares with the 85 complaints about films not for public exhibition that were received in 2010–11.

There were 13 complaints about the MA 15+ classification of Snowtown with the consumer advice of ‘strong themes and violence, sexual violence and coarse language’. All of the complainants thought that the film is classified too low. The majority of complainants felt that the theme of the movie was confronting and the level of violence portrayed warranted a higher classification than MA 15 +. Dogma, classified MA 15+ in 1999 with consumer advice of ‘medium violence, medium level coarse language’, received four complaints. Both complainants were of the view that the film is blasphemous in nature and want the film banned.

Three complaints were received about Treasure Guards. This film is classified PG with the consumer advice of ‘mild violence, coarse language and nudity’. The complainants were all of the view that the film’s classification was too low. Complainants felt the depictions of nudity are unsuitable for a PG classification.

Three complaints were also received about Megan is Missing which is classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice of ‘strong themes, violence, sexual violence and sexual references’. Two complainants were of the view that the film’s classification is too low given the nature of some of the violent and graphic material presented in the film; and one complainant was concerned that the consumer advice did not adequately warn of the film’s strong content.

Computer games

The Classification Board received 35 complaints about computer games. The Classification Board made 827 classification decisions for computer games in 2011–12. Some titles received more than one complaint while other titles received only single complaints. Overall, the complaints were about a small number of titles. This compares with the 387 complaints received about computer games classifications in 2010–11. The higher number of complaints about computer games in the previous reporting period related to Mortal Kombat, ­which received a large number of complaints because it is classified RC.

There were 13 complaints about the classification of Syndicate. The Classification Board classified the game RC due to high impact violence which could not be accommodated in the MA 15+ classification. The majority of the complainants did not want the computer game to be refused classification.

There were two complaints about Dead Island which is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘strong horror violence, blood and gore’. Both of the complainants considered the MA 15 + classification to be too low.

Red Orchestra II: Heroes of Stalingrad was the subject of two complaints. The computer game is classified MA 15 + with consumer advice of ‘strong war violence, gaming experience may change online’. Both of the complainants were of the view that the classification of the computer game is too high.

Other Complaints

A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) were two films that attracted numerous complaints during the reporting period for a range of reasons. It was not clear from some of the complaints whether the complainants had viewed the films at all, or if they had, whether they had seen them at festivals, at a cinema or on DVD.

There were 12 complaints about The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). The majority of complainants wanted the film to be refused classification. Several versions of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) were classified during the reporting period. In May 2011, the Classification Board classified one version of the film R 18+ with consumer advice, ‘high impact themes, violence and sexual violence’. This version of the film was subsequently reviewed by the Classification Review Board in November 2011 and the R 18+ classification was overturned and this version of the film is classified RC (see page 68).

Following the review, the distributor modified the film and in December 2011, submitted this shorter modified version for classification and the Classification Board assigned the classification of R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘high impact themes, violence and sexual violence.’

There were 14 complaints about A Serbian Film. Several versions of this film are classified. One version of the film was classified R 18+ by the Classification Board with the consumer advice of ‘high impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’. The majority of complainants thought that the R 18+ classification was too low and wanted the film to be refused classification. A Serbian Film was later reviewed by the Classification Review Board which overturned the R 18+ decision and classified the film RC (see page 68).

There were also other complaints that covered a broad range of classification issues. These included complaints about the role of the Classification Board, classification ratings, specifically the RC category, consumer advice about animal cruelty and queries about whether or not ‘sensuality’ should be included in consumer advice.

Advertising for films

Four complaints were received about advertising for films in the reporting period. Two of these complaints related to the advertising trailer for the film, The Devil Inside. There were single complaints about the advertising trailers for the film, Bad Teacher and the computer game, UFC Undisputed 3.

Film festivals

During 2011–12, the Director finalised 475 applications for exemptions to publicly exhibit unclassified films at film festivals and special film events. Eight complaints were received in relation to film festivals in the reporting period. Seven complaints were about the films, In Their Room: Berlin and Community Action Centre. These films were not granted an exemption to be screened at the Mardi Gras Film Festival as it was the view of the Director that they were in breach of the Film Festival Guidelines. The other complaint was about the screening of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) at a festival.

Table 17: Complaints
Publications 12
Film (public exhibition) 72
Film (not for public exhibition) 73
Computer games 35
Other complaints 30
Advertising for films 4
Films at festivals 8
Total 234

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


1 Not all applications result in a decision (for example ‘title change’ applications). Not all decisions are classification decisions. Classification decisions include all decisions except assessments of likely classification, decisions to revoke classifications 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. Such combined applications, while disaggregated in Table 14, are formally counted (Tables 3 and 4) as one application whereas the 2010–11 Annual Report presents the higher, disaggregated total.
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, film or computer game. This evidentiary certificate is issued under section 87 of the Classification Act.
7 The reason for refusing classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code