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Annual reports 2011 12 review board

Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011–12

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Convenor'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

Introduction

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

This report includes an overview of the work of the Review Board in 2011–12.

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

Convenor’s overview

Convenor, Victoria Rubensohn

This is my fourth report as Convenor of the Review Board. There were eight applications for review in the year 2011–12 resulting in the Review Board convening for six days to make eight decisions. The decisions for the applications for the 2D and 3D formats of both Happy Feet Two and Prometheus were each made on the same meeting day.

The previous Minister for Home Affairs and Justice made two applications for review during this reporting period. One application was for the review of the R 18+ classification of the film, A Serbian Film, and the second application was for the review of the R 18+ classification of the film, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). The Review Board overturned the R 18+ classification decision of the Classification Board and classified both films RC. A modified version of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) was later classified R 18+ by the Classification Board.

One computer game, House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut, was reviewed during the reporting period. The distributor of the computer game applied for the review. On 26 September 2011, the Review Board overturned the RC decision of the Classification Board and classified the computer game MA 15+ with consumer advice of ‘strong horror violence, strong coarse language’.

The review of the classification of the film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, was in response to an application from the distributor of the film. On 14 November 2011, the Review Board overturned the MA 15+ classification decision of the Classification Board and classified the film M with consumer advice of ‘supernatural themes and medical procedures’.

The review of the classification of the film Happy Feet Two (both the 2D & 3D formats) was in response to two applications from the distributor of the film. Under the legislation, a separate decision must be made for each format of the film. On 19 December 2011, the Review Board overturned the PG classification of the Classification Board and classified both formats of the film G with consumer advice of ‘very mild sense of threat’.

The review of the classification of the film Prometheus (both the 2D & 3D formats) was in response to two applications from the distributor of the film. On 4 June 2012, the Review Board overturned the MA 15+ classification of the Classification Board and classified both formats of the film M with consumer advice of ‘moderate science fiction violence and a medical procedure’. The decision reports for all titles except A Serbian Film are published on the classification website (www.classification.gov.au). The decision report for A Serbian Film is available upon request from the Classification Branch. This Report is not published on the website due to the offensive and confronting descriptions contained in the Report.

During the reporting period, the National Classification Scheme was the subject of an Inquiry by a parliamentary committee and a review by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).

The ALRC was asked by the former Attorney-General to review the National Classification Scheme in light of changes in technology, media convergence and the amount of classifiable content available to consumers. The ALRC’s final report, Classification: Content Regulation and Convergent Media (the Report) was tabled on 1 March 2012 and the Report is available from the ALRC’s website.

The recruitment process for the Review Board was finalised during the reporting period. Ms Fiona Jolly was appointed as Deputy Convenor. I would like to thank Ms Ann Stark for acting in this position during the recruitment process. Ms Jane Smith and Mr Peter Attard were appointed as Review Board members. I welcome the appointment of these three new members to the Review Board and look forward to a very productive working relationship with them.

Conclusion

I would like to thank the Review Board members for their commitment, professionalism and flexibility during 2011–12 and I look forward to continuing our work together.

I would also like to offer my thanks to the previous Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, for his support throughout 2011–12 and also to the current Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, the Hon Jason Clare MP.

Finally, I would like to thank members of the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department who have provided comprehensive secretariat support and valuable advice to the Review Board and its members over the past year.

Victoria Rubensohn AM
Convenor

Classification Review Board profiles

Convenor, Victoria Rubensohn

Victoria Rubensohn AM

Convenor

Appointed: 6 February 2009

Reappointed: 6 February 2012

Appointment expires: 5 February 2015

Victoria Rubensohn holds a Master of Arts Degree, a Master of Human Rights Degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree, and has been a Member of the Order of Australia since 2004. She has worked in radio and television in Australia and the USA, and more generally in communications, especially communications regulatory policy, for most of her professional life. Victoria has been a Member of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, a Member of the Immigration Review Tribunal, Chairman of the National Film and Sound Archive and of the Telephone Information Services Standards Council. She has chaired Federal Government committees in the communications and intellectual property areas. Victoria runs an international communications consultancy specialising in regulatory policy and has been involved in communications institution building in Europe and Africa. From 2010 until early 2012 Victoria served on the Mobile Premium Services Review Panel. She has been Convenor of the Classification Review Board since February 2009.

Deputy Convenor, Fiona Jolly

Fiona Jolly

Deputy Convenor

Appointed: 7 December 2011

Appointment Expires: 6 December 2014

Fiona Jolly resides in Wamboin NSW and works in the ACT. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Advertising Standards Bureau and previously held numerous positions with a number of Commonwealth Government agencies. Fiona has also held positions on numerous Boards including as Director of the Australian Business Volunteers (current), the Ministerial Advisory Council for Women (ACT), Majura Primary School Board and as National President of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Australia.

Fiona holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (ANU) and a Master of Laws (Melbourne) specialising in communications and international trade law. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Fiona is the parent of four children aged four to 12 years and has been actively involved in her local community through her children’s school and sporting commitments as well her volunteer work with the YWCA over a period of 15 years.

Classification Review Board Member, Ann Stark

Ann Stark

Appointed: 26 April 2006

Reappointed: 26 April 2009

Appointment Expired: 25 April 2012

Reappointed as acting Member: 26 April 2012 to 25 July 2012

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

Classification Review Board Member, Helena Blundell

Helena Blundell

Appointed: 17 September 2009

Appointment expires: 16 September 2013

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

Classification Review Board Member, Melissa de Zwart

Melissa De Zwart

Appointed: 17 September 2009

Appointment expires: 16 September 2 013

Melissa de Zwart is an Associate Professor in the Adelaide Law School (University of Adelaide). She has a PhD in law (which examined the law of fair dealing) and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours). Melissa has practised as a lawyer in both private practice and government, having been Legal Manager at CSIRO. She has published numerous articles on legal and social issues affecting copyright, particularly in the digital and popular culture context, convergence technologies, social networking, online games and virtual worlds. In 2008 she contributed to the ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) Virtual Group of Experts on Security Issues in Virtual Worlds and Gaming (EU).

As the mother of two young children, Melissa has served as the president of a community childcare centre and has a keen interest in children’s entertainment as both a parent and consumer. In her recreational time, she enjoys books, manga, movies and computer games, and exchanging views on these with her students, extended family and friends both face-to-face and via social networking. Melissa lives in Adelaide.

Classification Review Board Member, Jane Smith

Jane Smith

Appointed: 7 December 2011

Appointment Expires: 6 December 2014

Jane Smith lives in Coogee, New South Wales. She is currently the Director of theshinyshinyworld pty ltd, a company providing strategic advice on a range of ICT, business and creative industries issues. It also creates artwork and projects that express concern for the environment and human interaction. Jane’s previous positions include senior roles with the ABC from 1990 to 1997, Chief Executive Officer with the NSW Film and Television Office from 1997 to 2006 and Vice President of Seed Productions, a film production company in 2007 owned by actor Hugh Jackman. Jane was the inaugural Head of the Centre for Screenwriting at the Australian Film Television and Radio School 2009–10.

Jane is currently a member of the Digital Media Thought Leadership Group for the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation. She recently chaired the Committee for Revision of Mobile Premium Services (MPS) Codes. She has also represented on a number of other Boards including Ausfilm, Screen Finance Group, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, and the Broadcasting Council. Jane holds a Bachelor of Arts (Flinders) majoring in psychology and history and a Post Graduate Diploma in Criminology (Melbourne). She is actively involved in the community through her extensive career in both the public and private sectors as well as her involvement in the arts and film community.

Classification Review Board Member, Peter Attard 

Peter Attard

Appointed: 7 December 2011

Appointment Expires: 6 December 2014

Peter Attard lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. He is the Director of Sound 4 Your Space Pty Ltd, a company that designs and supplies in-store music solutions to businesses and industries throughout Australia. He has created and taught media, visual literacy, visual arts and photography curriculum in both secondary and TAFE education, as well as serving as coordinator of these studies at various colleges in Victoria. Peter has been a committee member of the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM), judged ATOM student film awards and is a member of the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

Peter holds a Bachelor of Education (Visual Arts) from the University of Melbourne. He is the father of three teenage children, is a regular user of social media and is actively involved in his local community through his children’s school and sporting commitments as well as through his work as director of his own company.

Legislative base

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

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

Decisions of the Review Board

In the reporting period, the Review Board received seven applications for the review of film classifications and one application for the review of a classification of a computer game.

The Review Board determined a lower classification than the Classification Board for the computer game The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut and the films The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Happy Feet Two (2D & 3D) and Prometheus (2D & 3D).

The Review Board determined a higher classification than the Classification Board for the films The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) and A Serbian Film.

All reviews were completed within the statutory timeframe.

The reports for the Review Board’s decisions are published on the classification website (www.classification.gov.au). The decision report for A Serbian Film is not on the website due to the nature of the content contained in the Report but it can be provided upon request from the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department.

Table 18: Decisions of the Review Board
Title Media Review applicant Review Decision Original classification Review classification
A Serbian Film Film Minister Home Affairs and Justice 19 September 2011 R 18+ RC
The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut Computer Game Sega Australia Pty Ltd 26 September 2011 RC MA 15+
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) Film Minister Home Affairs and Justice * 28 November 2011 R 18+ RC
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Film Hoyts Distribution 14 November 2011 MA 15+ M
Happy Feet Two (2D) Film Roadshow Films 19 December 2011 PG G
Happy Feet Two (3D) Film Roadshow Films 19 December 2011 PG G
Prometheus (2D) Film 20th Century Fox Film Distributors 4 June 2012 MA 15+ M
Prometheus (3D) Film 20th Century Fox Film Distributors 4 June 2012 MA 15+ M
* At the request of the NSW Attorney General

Attendance at Review Board meetings

The Review Board convened for six days in 2011–12 to deal with eight applications. The reviews for Happy Feet Two (2D and 3D) and Prometheus (2D and 3D) were held on two separate days.

Table 19: Attendance at Review Board Meetings
Review Board member Meetings
2011–12
Number of meeting days 2011–12
Victoria Rubensohn (VR), Convenor, NSW 4 4
Fiona Jolly (FJ), Deputy Convenor, ACT 1 1
Ann Stark (AS), TAS 5 5
Melissa de Zwart (MDZ), SA 5 5
Helena Blundell (HB), NT 3 3
Jane Smith (JS), NSW 1 1
Peter Attard (PA), VIC 1 1
 
Table 20: Composition of panels in 2011–12
Title Number of meeting days Panel members
A Serbian Film 1 AS, HB, MDZ
House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut 1 VR, AS, MDZ
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) 1 VR, AS, MDZ
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 1 AS, MDZ, HB
Happy Feet Two (2D & 3D formats) 1 VR, AS, MDZ
Prometheus (2D & 3D formats) 1 VR, FJ, HB, JS, PA
 

Complaints

The Review Board received 15 complaints about its decisions.

There were five complaints about the computer game Mortal Kombat, two complaints about A Serbian Film, five complaints about The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) two complaints about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and one complaint about Prometheus. Complainants did not think that Mortal Kombat and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) should be refused classification. Those that complained about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Prometheus thought that the classification was too low. Those that wrote about A Serbian Film were complaining about the Review Board’s consideration of interested party submissions.

Judicial Decisions

Aspects of a Review Board decision can be reviewed, on application, by the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth). In the reporting period, no application for review of the Review Board’s decisions was lodged with the Federal Court.

On 16 June 2010, an application was made to the Federal Court regarding the Review Board’s decision to classify the modified version of the film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo) in DVD format, R 18+ with the consumer advice ‘scenes of torture and degradation, sexual violence and nudity’. On 31 August 2011, the judgment was delivered by Justice Stone in favour of the respondents, the Review Board and the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, that the application be dismissed. Justice Stone found that the Review Board directed itself correctly as to the application of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines without error of law.

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