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Classification Board

CLASSIFICATION BOARD ANNUAL REPORT 2013–14

DIRECTOR'S LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

Classification board Director's letter of transmittal HTML version available below 

Director's Letter of Transmittal alt text

DIRECTOR'S OVERVIEW

Director of the Classification Board – Lesley O'Brien 

In my second year as Director of the Classification Board, the Board continued to fulfil its statutory duty and role in the National Classification Scheme, working efficiently to classify films, computer games and publications.

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 senior roles throughout the year – Ms Marit Breivik Andersen, Ms Amanda Apel and Ms Moya Glasson.

The reporting period also saw member Mr Zahid Gamieldien take leave to perform the role of Senior Legal Officer in the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General's Department. One new member was recruited for the temporary Board member register during the reporting period. The temporary Board members can be used in times of peak workload.

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

In this reporting year, the Board made 4 156 decisions. This included 4 066 commercial classification decisions, 30 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and 60 classification decisions for enforcement agencies. Every decision was made within the statutory timeframe of 20 days (or five days for priority applications) and I commend the Board on this outcome.

The Board has continued its practice of auditing serial classifications issued to publications. Serial classification declarations are made under the Classification Act which allows the Board to declare that the classification granted to a publication also applies to:

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

During the reporting period, 38 publications were audited. One publication had its serial classification revoked as a result of the audit. This decision was subsequently overturned by the Review Board.

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

Nineteen of the Board's decisions were reviewed by the Classification Review Board in 2013–14. These were for the review of the classification for 13 computer games, five films and to review the decision to revoke a serial classification of a publication. Of the 13 computer games reviewed, the original classification remained unchanged. Of the five films reviewed, the original classification for one film remained unchanged. The Review Board decided not to revoke the serial classification for the publication upon review. Further information about the Review Board's decisions is available at page 63.

On 1 January 2013, an R 18+ category for computer games took effect in conjunction with new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which were agreed to by all state and territory ministers who have responsibility for classification matters.

In addition to its regular Board meetings, in February 2014, the Board held a professional development day focussing on computer games and its application of the new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, approximately 12 months after their introduction. Also in February, the Board held a professional development day focussing on the classification of publications. Such days provide the Board with additional opportunities to debate and discuss its standards in decision-making and its application of the Classification Act, Code and the Guidelines.

The Board notes the progress of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Bill 2014. This Bill is the first instalment of reforms arising from the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the National Classification Scheme proposing reform to certain aspects of the Scheme, including reducing the regulatory burden on industry.

During the reporting period, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at Budget Estimates hearings in February and May 2014 where I provided an overview of the work of the Board and answered a number of questions, including those relating to the classification of computer games.

In November 2013, I attended the International Film Classifiers Conference, held in Finland, which brings together heads of classification bodies from around the world each year to discuss issues such as the challenges emerging technology present to content classifiers in the digital age. The conference, titled "Converging Audiovisual World", carried the main themes: converging markets, protecting minors from harmful content on different media platforms; user generated content and online rating tools; and online safety. The conference allows valuable information exchange on classification matters and provides useful comparisons of overseas classification systems and standards with those in Australia.

During the reporting period, representatives of the Board also attended several conferences in Australia regarding new and emerging technologies and their potential impact on classification.

Board members Mr Lance Butler and Ms Serena Jakob and I attended an Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) industry briefing "Rise of The Individual" on 7 August 2013.

The briefing considered the latest consumer trends across the entertainment and media sector, including interactive games, within a five-year forecast.

I met with representatives from various industry bodies at the Australian International Movie Convention held on 14 to 17 October 2013 at the Gold Coast, including the Film Exhibition and Distribution Code Committee, the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation, the National Association of Cinema Operators and the NZ Film and Video Labelling Body to discuss classification issues relevant to their industries. Keynote speakers included the Hon Senator George Brandis QC, Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts; Mr Peter Beattie, Chairman of the National Association of Cinema Operators Australasia; and Mr Marc Wooldridge, Chairman of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia. Panel discussions were held on: "Understanding the current issues of digital delivery at a cinema site" and an address delivered by KPMG: "Managing and Engaging Generation Y – How demographic shifts are changing the mass market in Australia."

On 27 March 2014, Deputy Director Ms Margaret Anderson and Mr Butler attended another iGEA event "Games Industry Trends and What Lies Beyond 2014". The event presented current research and commentary in relation to game trends and forecasts, purchasing habits and the next-generation consoles.

I attended the inaugural Australian PAX gaming exhibition in Melbourne on 19 to 21 July 2014. The event encompassed panel discussions and exhibition and demonstration of new and upcoming games by game developers and publishers, with a range of genres, platforms and styles of games represented.

During the reporting period, the Board continued to liaise with stakeholders both at home and abroad.

On 26 November 2013, Ms Anderson and I met with the Executive Manager of the Citizen and Communications Branch of the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), Ms Jonquil Ritter; and the Manager of the Content Classification Section and ACMA Hotline, Mr Jeremy Fenton, to discuss issues of mutual pertinence to both organisations.

On 6 May 2014, I met with Mr Richard Lyle, President of the Media Classifiers Association of Australia, and the Association's Vice-President Mr Ben Phelps. The Association represents classifiers of television content, and updates were provided from both organisations.

On 21 October 2013, Ms Anderson and Ms Brievik Andersen conducted a Skype session with students from the University of Melbourne on the subject of "Censorship: Film, Art, Media". In January 2014, members of the Board attended a presentation by Microsoft of the new Xbox One console and by Sony of the new Playstation 4 console.

The Board also values its relationships with international classification organisations. In October and December 2013, I welcomed delegations from Korea's Communications Standards Commission and Media Rating Board to discuss operations in their country, and in January 2014, I met with the Chief Censor of New Zealand, Dr Andrew Jack, who provided an update on classification matters in New Zealand.

The Classification Branch and the Board have continued to review systems and procedures which assist the Board to do its work. The Deputy Director, Board members Ms Breivik Andersen and Ms Amanda Apel and I participated in a review being undertaken by the branch to further improve the core processes associated with the classification cycle. The project was conducted in accordance with the Lean Six Sigma framework and Value Stream Mapping (VSM) principles. This has also provided me with the opportunity to review the procedures of the Board, and the arrangement of the business of the Board, to optimise quality, efficient decision-making.

As a final note, I would like to acknowledge the support and cooperation provided by the Classification Branch staff who 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.

Lesley O'Brien
Director
Classification Board

Classification Board group photograph 

The Classification Board
Back: Left to Right – Mr Lance Butler, Ms Margaret Anderson (Deputy Director).
Front: Left to Right – Ms Moya Glasson, Ms Amanda Apel, Ms Serena Jakob, Ms Marit Breivik Andersen.
Absent: Ms Tennille Burdon, Mr Zahid Gamieldien, Ms Lesley O'Brien (Director), and temporary Board members.

CLASSIFICATION BOARD PROFILES

Director of the Classification Board – Lesley O’Brien 

LESLEY O'BRIEN

Director
APPOINTED 1 January 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 December 2015

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 31 January 2011

Before taking up the position of Director of the Classification Board, Ms Lesley O'Brien, 47, was Deputy Director of the Classification Board for two years. She has over 25 years' experience as a print and radio journalist and publishing executive, most recently as a Senior Executive at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as General Manager of ABC Publishing (Books, Magazines and Audio), and previously, as editor of a leading Australian magazine food title. Ms O'Brien, who holds a Bachelor of Economics, has also worked in communications roles in the NSW public service and is a published book author.

Ms O'Brien is a keen participant at her local tennis club, is a member of a local resident committee, and has a daughter at university and a 16-year-old step-son.

Deputy Director of the Classification Board – Margaret Anderson 

MARGARET ANDERSON

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 25 July 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 24 July 2016

Ms Margaret Anderson, 47, is Deputy Director of the Classification Board, a position she was appointed to in July 2013.

Before her appointment as Deputy Director, she completed a two-year engagement with the Department of Correctional Services in the Northern Territory working as Deputy Director, Strategic and Executive Services; and then as the Executive Director, Youth Justice. Ms Anderson worked with Indigenous people, government agencies and non-government organisations to enhance services and personal development opportunities for disenfranchised youth and adult prisoners. While in the Territory, Ms Anderson was a member of a number of committees including the Youth Justice Advisory Committee comprising government, non-government and community representatives. The committee monitored and evaluated the administration and operation of the Youth Justice Act and provided advice to the minister on issues relevant to the administration of youth justice. This included the planning, development, integration and implementation of government policies and programs concerning youth.

From 1995 to 2011, Ms Anderson held several positions with the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services—including Director, Corporate Legislation and Parliamentary Support; and Executive Officer and Registrar of the Serious Offenders' Review Council. As Director, she led the development and implementation of numerous legislative reforms and as the Executive Officer and Registrar, she had oversight of the case management plans for the state's most serious adult criminals.

Ms Anderson has held various positions with the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, the NSW Cabinet Office and the NSW Legislature. Ms Anderson has also been member of the Executive Board of the Prisoners' Aid Association of NSW — a community organisation which offers support to prisoners and their families during and after imprisonment. She has also been a supporter of SHINE for Kids — a registered charity supporting children with a parent in the NSW criminal justice system.

Ms Anderson has degrees in Arts and Law and holds a number of graduate certificates and diplomas in legal and management studies. Her interests include Indigenous performing arts, craft and painting, live theatre, films (especially Italian), photography, bush walking, travelling and aquaerobics.

Classification Board Member – Marit Breivik Anderson 

MARIT BREIVIK ANDERSEN

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
REAPPOINTED 1 May 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 July 2014

Ms Marit Breivik Andersen, 46, is married with three children and lives in Lane Cove, New South Wales.

She has a Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Journalism from the University of Wollongong. Originally from Norway, Ms Breivik Andersen migrated to Australia in 1990. Ms Breivik Andersen has been a member of the Classification Board since 2007, initially as a temporary member, until joining as a full-time member in 2011. Prior to this she worked as a journalist, executive producer, translator and subtitler with SBS radio and television. Ms Breivik Andersen 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.

Ms Breivik Andersen 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.

Classification Board Member – Amanda Apel 

AMANDA APEL

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

Ms Amanda Apel, 51, 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. Ms Apel'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, Ms Apel 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.

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

Classification Board Member – Tennille Burdon 

TENNILLE BURDON

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
REAPPOINTED 1 May 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 July 2014

Ms Tennille Burdon is 35 and comes from Tasmania. Ms Burdon 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, Ms Burdon 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.

Classification Board Member – Lance Butler 

LANCE BUTLER

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
REAPPOINTED 1 May 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 July 2014

Mr Lance Butler, 42, comes from Springvale in Victoria. With diplomas in Business Management and Human Resources, Mr Butler has worked as a team leader and trainer for Woolworths Logistics in the Melbourne National Distribution Centre for 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.

Mr Butler 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.

Mr Butler 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.

Classification Board Member – Zahid Gamieldien 

ZAHID GAMIELDIEN

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

Mr Zahid Gamieldien, 29, was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of three. He grew up in Bankstown, New South Wales, and currently resides with his spouse in Sydney's inner west.

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

He has been on extended leave from the Classification Board since August 2013 and is the Senior Legal Officer in the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General's Department.

Classification Board Member – Moya Glasson 

MOYA GLASSON

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

Ms Moya Glasson, 58, holds a Bachelor of Education degree and relocated from Western Australia to take up her position with the Board. Ms Glasson 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, Ms Glasson 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.

Ms Glasson 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.

Ms Glasson 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.

Ms Glasson, 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.

Classification Board Member – Serena Jakob 

SERENA JAKOB

Board member
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
REAPPOINTED 1 May 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 July 2014

Ms Serena Jakob is 43 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. Ms Jakob has worked in metropolitan, rural and remote communities throughout Australia. Ms Jakob 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. Ms Jakob 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.

Ms Jakob has also worked with the UK-based interactive digital artists, Blast Theory. Ms Jakob 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.

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.

Temporary Board Member – Samantha Arnull 

SAMANTHA ARNULL

Ms Samantha Arnull, 40, has a background in visual art and works with found objects, photography and installation. Ms Arnull completed a Master of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle, which incorporated study at the Bauhaus University, Germany. Ms Arnull has worked as a collaborator in production design for theatre, dance and performance. She has worked in museums and galleries as an artist's assistant and installer for Australian and international artists both in Australia and overseas. Ms Arnull has experience in teaching and writing creative programs for both primary and secondary schools in visual arts. Since 2010, Ms Arnull has been teaching visual arts education at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney.

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

Ms Arnull worked 8 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member - Emma Ashton 

EMMA ASHTON

Ms Emma Ashton is a 44-year-old mother of two young children who currently lives in Sydney. She grew up in the country and she studied nursing at university. After working as a nurse, both in Australia and overseas, she started working in politics and later in policy in the public service. She is currently a blogger. Ms Ashton is involved in her local community through her children's school and childcare centre, as well as being involved in other community groups. She is also involved in online communities and is in continual contact with a variety people discussing a wide range of issues from all over Australia.

Ms Ashton worked 30 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Graeme Bradley 

GRAEME BRADLEY

Mr Graeme Bradley, 66, 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 thirty-five years. This included secondments to Saudi Arabia, USA and Malaysia. Mr Bradley spent five years working on the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympics Games, whilst being a member of the NSW Paralympics Committee for four years. Mr Bradley lives in Sydney with his wife and son.

Mr Bradley worked 38 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Emma Bromley 

EMMA BROMLEY

Ms Emma Bromley, 40, is married with two children. A former high-school teacher, she has held numerous positions within the Australian Public Service including film policy and telecommunications funding. She also held a number of positions within the then Office of Film and Literature Classification. Ms Bromley has been the President of her local school's P&C Association. Her interests include photography, craft and writing.

Ms Bromley worked 9 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Ron Delezio 

RON DELEZIO

Mr Ron Delezio, 61, has been self-employed, has worked as a public speaker, and founded the charity, Day of Difference Foundation, which raises funds for urgently needed medical equipment, research, medical training and therapists for children's hospitals Australia-wide and works with the University of Sydney in conducting research into improving the way hospitals work with families. Ron is also the NSW regional chairman of ROMAC, bringing children from developing countries to Australia or New Zealand for life saving operations. Prior to this, Mr Delezio worked in the manufacturing industry for a number of years both as an employee and as a proprietor of a small business providing capital equipment and service to the plastics industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Delezio was awarded the 2006 Australian Father of the Year, NSW Citizen of the Year, Swans Ambassador, World Youth Day Ambassador and Australia Day Ambassador.

Mr Delezio worked 41 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Dianne Doratis  

DIANNE DORATIS

Ms Dianne Doratis, 65, joined the board as a temporary member in September 2007. A first generation Greek-Australian, Ms Doratis worked as a clinical psychologist, specialising in children and families, in both government and private practice. Her interests include music, singing, film, theatre and reading.

Ms Doratis worked 69 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Wayne Garrett  

WAYNE GARRETT

Mr Wayne Garrett, 59, holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Science and a Ph.D. in Radiation Chemistry. He was a principal research scientist at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and represented the Australian Government as Counsellor (Nuclear) based at the Australian High Commission in London and was Australia's representative on the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency steering committee in Paris (1999–2003). He was also involved in international programs with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the US Department of Energy to secure radioactive material from illicit uses, as well as to transfer peaceful uses of nuclear technology to developing countries in South East Asia.

Mr Garrett lives with his wife and daughter in Sydney, but grew up in Queensland. He is actively involved in his daughter's school community and sporting programs. Mr Garrett has also lived and worked in Sweden, Japan and the United Kingdom as well as working in Paris and a variety of South East Asian countries and has wide experience with people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds.

Mr Garrett worked 30 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Geoff Geraghty  

GEOFF GERAGHTY

Mr Geoff Geraghty, 61, 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. Mr Geraghty is married with three adult children and one grandchild.

Mr Geraghty worked 21 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Benjamin May 

BENJAMIN MAY

Mr Benjamin May, 34, began his career as a film projectionist at several multi-screen cinema complexes. He then joined Foxtel where he worked in broadcast operations before being appointed as Programming Manager for various subscription television channels and new media services. During this time, he gained strong knowledge of the classification process and broad community standards. His interests include film, music and live comedy.

Mr May worked 72 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Vijay Narisetty  

VIJAY NARISETTY

Mr Vijay Narisetty, 46, was born in Hyderabad, India, and migrated to Australia in 1996. He is a former NSW police officer and has extensive experience working within our community. He is married with two young children and loves travelling, cooking and films.

Mr Narisetty worked 1 day as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member - Greg Randall 

GREG RANDALL

Mr Greg Randall, 53, has thirty-five years' experience in policing and criminal investigation within the New South Wales Police Force and other law enforcement agencies. He gained expertise in targeting, leading and commanding covert, complex and sensitive investigations into organised crime, as well as corruption in state, national and international jurisdictions. He attained the commissioned rank of detective inspector and received numerous awards and commendations, including the selection of participating in an international exchange program with the London Metropolitan Police.

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

Mr Randall worked 17 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Nathan Whitta  

NATHAN WHITTA

Mr Nathan Whitta, 37, worked as a combat systems operator in the Royal Australian Navy for eight years, serving in two sea postings before leaving the navy. Mr Whitta then completed a Bachelor of Science (Geology) at Macquarie University prior to working as a coal exploration geologist in Queensland.

Mr Whitta has volunteered as a primary ethics teacher at the school his children attend. He is currently in his final semester at Macquarie University completing a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education with an aim of becoming a high-school teacher. He and his spouse have two young children.

Mr Whitta worked 37 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Leanne Wilson-O’Connor  

LEANNE WILSON-O'CONNOR

Ms Leanne Wilson-O'Connor, 40, is currently employed as a television classifier. She previously worked for over eleven years as an Aboriginal education officer at a charitable institution providing respite care for children in need. Ms Wilson-O'Connor 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.

Ms Wilson-O'Connor worked 14 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

Temporary Board Member – Sue Zelinka  

SUE ZELINKA

Ms Sue Zelinka, 64, 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. Ms Zelinka 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.

Ms Zelinka worked 64 days as a temporary Board member during 2013–14.

STATISTICS

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

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • The Classification Board made 4 156 classification decisions in 2013–14, including 4 066 commercial classification decisions, 30 classification decisions on Internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and 60 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 2013–14, all decisions on commercial applications were made within the statutory time limits. A breakdown of these figures follows:

Table 01: Timeliness of decisions on commercial applications by application type

Application type
No. of decisions made within statutory time limits
Film (public exhibition)
557
Film (sale/hire)
2 121
Film (sale/hire)—ACA
178
Film (sale/hire)—ATSA
522
Computer games
458
Publications (including serial declarations)
230
Assessment of likely classification—film
32
Assessment of likely classification—computer games
1
Internet content
30
Total
4 1291
% of total
100

CLASSIFICATION BOARD WORKLOAD

In 2013–14, the Classification Board made 4 156 classification decisions. The Board and the Director also make other decisions which are not classification decisions. A breakdown of these decisions is in the table below:

Table 02: Decisions

Classification Decisions
Decisions
Film (public exhibition)
557
Film (sale/hire)
2 121
Film (sale/hire)—ACA
178
Film (sale/hire)—ATSA
522
Computer games
458
Publications
195
Serial publication declarations
35
Internet content
30
Enforcement (including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service)
60
Other decisions (not classification decisions)
Assessment of likely classification—film
32
Assessment of likely classification—computer games
1
S87 Certificates
16
Film festival exemptions
779
Fee waiver applications
8
Revocation of classification
1
Decline to deal
0
Total
4 993

COMPARISON WITH LAST YEAR'S WORKLOAD

Compared with the 2012-13 reporting period, the number of classification decisions:

  • decreased from 4 487 to 4 156 (a decrease of seven percent)
  • decreased in all application categories except for Film (public exhibition), which increased from 509 to 557 (an increase of nine percent), and ATSA scheme applications, which increased from 507 to 522 (an increase of three percent).

The continued decrease in standard classification decisions made for films for sale/hire was slighter, 2 214 to 2 121 (a decrease of four percent). While this was accompanied by a more significant decrease in decisions made on Additional Content Assessor (ACA) Scheme applications (22 percent), overall, decisions made for films for sale/hire still decreased by four percent.

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

PUBLICATIONS

The Classification Board made 230 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 195 single issue publication classifications and 35 serial declarations.

Table 03 Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification

Classification
Classification decisions
Unrestricted
73
Category 1 restricted
99
Category 2 restricted
23
RC
0
Total
195

As indicated in Figure 01, 51 percent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 restricted. Twelve percent were Category 2 restricted and 37 percent were Unrestricted. No publications were Refused Classification (RC).

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions

Figure 01 – Pie Chart – Publication classification decisions
Unrestricted – 37%, RC – 0%, Category 1 restricted – 51%, Category 2 restricted – 12%
 

Serial classification declarations for publications

The Classification Act provides that the 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 Board must have regard to the Classification (Serial Publications) Principles 2005 in deciding whether to grant a serial classification declaration.

Table 04: Serial classification declarations granted by classification

Classification
Declarations granted
Unrestricted
5
Category 1 restricted
27
Category 2 restricted
3
RC
0
Total
35

The Board audits publications granted a serial classification declaration. In 2013–14, one publication had its serial classification revoked.

As indicated in Figure 02, 77 percent of serial classification declarations were for Category 1 restricted publications, nine percent were Category 2 restricted publications and 14 percent were Unrestricted publications. None were classified RC.

Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations

Figure 02 – Pie Chart – Serial publication classification declarations
Unrestricted – 14%, Category 1 restricted – 77%, Category 2 restricted – 9%, RC – 0%
 

FILMS CLASSIFIED FOR PUBLIC EXHIBITION

The Classification Board made 557 decisions on applications for the classification of commercial films for public exhibition.

Table 05: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition

Classification
Classification decisions
G
41
PG
102
M
285
MA 15+
114
R 18+
15
X 18+
0
RC
0
Total
557

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

Figure 03: Decisions on films classified for public exhibition

Figure 03 – Pie Chart - Decisions on films classified for public exhibition
G – 7%, PG – 18%, M – 51%, MA 15+ – 21%, R18 + – 3%, X 18+ – 0%, RC – 0%
 

FILMS CLASSIFIED FOR SALE/HIRE

The Classification Board made 2 821 decisions on applications for classification of commercial films for sale/hire. These figures include applications made under the ACA and ATSA Schemes.

Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire

Classification
Classification decisions
G
471
PG
580
M
865
MA 15+
658
R 18+
86
X 18+
151
RC
10
Total
2 821

Table 07: Commercial films classified for sale/hire Refused Classification (RC) by reason2

Reason
Number
Films RC 1(a)
9
Films RC 1(b)
0
Films RC 1(c)
0
Films RC 1(a) & 1(b)
1
Total
10

As indicated in Figure 04, approximately 68 percent of classifications of films for sale/hire during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the M category.

The Board classified 10 commercial films for sale/hire RC. This represents 0.4 percent of the total number of the films for sale/hire submitted for classification.

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

Figure 04 – Pie Chart - Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire (including ACA and ATSA)
G – 17%, PG – 21%, M – 31%, MA 15+ – 23%, R 18+ – 3%, X 18+ – 5%, RC – 0.4%
 

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

Under the ATSA Scheme, applications that comprise certain television series and series related material can 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 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 458 decisions on applications for computer games.

Table 08: Commercial computer games decisions by classification

Classification
Classification decisions
G
176
PG
130
M
80
MA 15+
47
R 18+
23
RC
2
Total
458

Eighty four 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 Board classified two computer games RC during the reporting period.

Figure 05: Computer game classification decisions

Figure 05 – Pie Chart - Computer game classification decisions
G – 38%, PG – 28%, M – 18%, MA 15+ – 10%, R 18+ – 5%, RC – 0.4%
 

Table 09: Commercial computer games applications Refused Classification (RC) by reason3

Reason
Number
Games RC 1(a)
0
Games RC 1(b)
0
Games RC 1(c)
0
Games RC 1(d)
0
Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b)
2
Total
2

OTHER APPLICATIONS

Exemptions to show unclassified films and computer games

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

During 2013–14, the Director finalised 779 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films or computer games at film festivals and special film or computer game events. No films or computer games within these applications were refused an exemption. There were 609 finalised in the previous reporting period, meaning that in this reporting period, there has been a 28 percent increase in exemption applications.

Advertisements

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

Advertising assessments

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

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

During the reporting period, the Board made 32 assessments of the likely classification of films and one assessment of the likely classification of a computer game.

Certificates of exemption for films or computer games

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

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

Fee waivers

The Classification Act allows the Director to waive all or part of fees payable under the Classification Act in specific circumstances, such as where it is in the public interest to do so for public health or educational reasons. There are also fee waiver provisions for non-profit organisations and for special interest material with a limited distribution in some circumstances (e.g. a short film from a new or emerging film maker) and where, in the Director's opinion, it is in the public interest to waive all or part of the fee.

The Director granted eight fee waivers during the reporting period. There were no refused applications for fee waivers.

Table 10: Fee waiver applications granted

Film (public exhibition)
Fee waivers granted
Full fee waiver
5
50% fee waiver
0
75% fee waiver
0
Fee waiver refused
0
Film (for sale/hire)
Full fee waiver
3
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
8

CLASSIFICATION SERVICES FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD

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

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

Enforcement agencies

The 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 2013–14.

Table 11: Enforcement application decisions by agency

Enforcement agency
Publications
Films
Section 87 certificates5
Total
Australian Federal Police
0
0
0
0
ACT Office of Fair Trading
0
0
0
0
NSW Police
0
24
2
26
NT Police
0
0
3
3
Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading
0
29
15
44
Victoria Police
1
6
1
8
SA Police
0
0
0
0
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
0
0
0
0
Total
1
59
18
78

INTERNET CONTENT

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from the ACMA. Internet content is shown tables 12 and 13.

Table 12: Internet content decisions by classification

Classification
Classification decisions
G
0
PG
1
M
7
MA 15+
4
R 18+
7
X 18+
0
RC
11
Unrestricted
0
Total
30

Table 13: Internet content Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Reason6
Number
Film RC 1(a)
1
Film RC 1(b)
0
Film RC 1(c)
7
Film RC 1(d)
0
Film RC 1(a) & 1(b)
3
Film RC 1(a) & 1(c)
0
S 9A (2) (c)
0
Total
11

Footnotes

1 The total number of commercial classification decisions was 4 066. The total number of commercial applications of 4 129 includes 33 decisions about the likely classification of a film or computer game.

2 The reason a film is Refused Classification (RC) refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).

3 The reason a film is Refused Classification (RC) refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).

4 The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005 provide each state and territory with 100 free 'eligible documents' each calendar year if the request for the eligible document relates to the enforcement of the state or territory law for the purposes of the National Classification Scheme. 'Eligible documents' include an application for classification and a section 87 certificate. Amendments to the Regulations which commenced on 1 July 2010 allow enforcement agencies to count both the application for classification and the section 87 certificate as a single eligible document. This change effectively doubles the number of free eligible documents that can be requested. Such combined applications, while disaggregated in Table 11, are formally counted (Table 02) as one application.

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

6 The reason content is Refused Classification (RC) refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).

DECISIONS

PUBLICATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

Classifications

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

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

Unrestricted

Unrestricted 

Unrestricted M (Mature) 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 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 Board can apply consumer advice not recommending the publication for readers under 15.

During the reporting period, a total of 230 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publications. This figure includes 35 serial publication declarations.

Out of the total of 230 classification decisions for publications, 73 single issue publications and five serial publications were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2013–14 include People, The Picture, Hooters 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 230 publications classified (including 35 serial publication declarations), 99 single issue publications and 27 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.

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 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 2013–14 include Club International, The Picture Premium, The Picture: 100% Home Girls and Hustler.

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 230 publications classified (including 35 serial publication declarations), 23 single issue publications and three serial publications were classified Category 2 restricted.

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

Category 2 restricted publications can only be sold to persons 18 years of age and over and can only be displayed in restricted premises. Category 2 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland.

Titles of Category 2 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2013–14 include The Australian Rosie, The Picture Premium and The Australasian Sexpaper.

RC Refused Classification

Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total of 230 publications classified (including 35 serial declarations), no publication was classified RC.

Serial classifications for publications

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

During the reporting period, 35 periodicals were granted a serial classification declaration. All of these declarations were granted for a 12-month period.

The Board audits publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, 38 audits were undertaken. After failing an audit, one publication had its serial classification revoked during 2013–14.

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 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

Decisions for films were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Films (the Guidelines).

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

G – General 

Out of the total of 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 512 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 Rio 2, Meerkats 3D, Free Birds, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Muppets Most Wanted, and Planes.

The American film, Rio 2, is an animated adventure movie in 3D and 2D where Blu, Jewel and their three children leave the safety of their home in the city of Rio to fly to the wilds of the Amazon, where other blue macaws have been found. Blu has trouble living up to the standards of his father-in-law and must prove himself by showing his courage against Nigel's plans of revenge and a crew of loggers. The Board considered that the film contained themes and inextricably linked violence that had a very low sense of threat and menace that was justified by context. These include a scene where Blu accidentally sets fire to his tail when he drops a match while lighting the fuse of a rocket. Only smoke is seen coming from the bird's tail. During an audition for a talent show, in a comic sequence accompanied by music, a mosquito is killed, some critters are eaten by a piranha and a panther swallows another critter. The critter swallowed by the panther is later spat out, apparently unharmed.

The Board classified the 3D and 2D films at G, with no consumer advice. Subsequent release of the films onto Blu-Ray and DVD included some or all of the following additional content: a deleted scene, featurettes, music videos and still images. This resulted in the new product retaining its G classification, but consumer advice of 'Some scenes may frighten very young children' being included.

The American film, Planes, was classified in 3D and 2D versions and is a computer-animated children's film. Dusty is a crop-duster who dreams of competing in the famous aerial race 'Wings Around the Globe'. He qualifies for the competition after another plane is disqualified for cheating. He must overcome his fear of heights and the reigning champ, Ripslinger, who will do anything to win his fourth title. Dusty is helped in the film by his coach Skipper and his small town friends. The film contains themes and violence that have a very low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. In one scene, Dusty is flying over the ocean at night in a thunderstorm. There is heavy rain, lightning flashes and large waves. Dusty is hit by a wave and calls out "Mayday, mayday". He is viewed falling under water and then emerges gasping and yells "help". He is then viewed sinking underwater again and the screen goes dark. A light is then viewed and a small forklift with a net is seen descending in the water. It is implicit that the forklift is going to rescue Dusty. In another scene, Skipper is telling Dusty about a mission he flew. In a flashback scene, Skipper is viewed leading his squadron into a surprise attack and a battle erupts. There is multiple gunfire and bullets as light flashes are viewed. Fireballs and planes flaming and crashing into the ocean are also viewed. The Board classified the film G with consumer advice of 'Very mild animated violence'.

PG – Parental guidance recommended 

Out of the total of 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 682 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 Belle and Sebastien, The Book Thief, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Jappeloup, In Bob We Trust, Saving Mr Banks, Grace of Monaco and Muscle Shoals.

Belle and Sebastien is a French language (English subtitles) film set in the French Alps during World War II. It is based on a popular children's book published in 1965. The story is about six-year-old Sebastian, who lives on the mountainside with a kindly but gruff caretaker. Belle is a female mountain dog who has escaped from her cruel owner. The local villagers have mistaken her for a 'beast' that has been killing their sheep. Sebastian and Belle form a bond and their adventures take them through the Alps as they become pivotal in the successful escape of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany for the safety of Switzerland.

The Board considered that the scenes of hunting violence resulting in depictions of implied injury to animals with some minor wound and blood effects did not exceed a mild impact and were able to be subsumed into consumer advice of mild themes. In addition, the film contained visual and verbal references to excessive drinking and to the persecution of Jews during World War II. The Board classified this film PG with consumer advice of 'Mild themes and coarse language'.

The American documentary film, Muscle Shoals, is about a small town by the same name, on the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama that is said to be the breeding ground for some of the most important and resonant Western popular songs of all time. The film reveals the artists and entrepreneurs who grew its music industry, with a particular focus on Rick Hall, founder of FAME studios and the so-called 'Muscle Shoals sound'. The story is told through narration, archival and contemporary footage and through interviews with musicians such as Mick Jagger, Wilson Pickett, Bono, Alicia Keys, Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin, who reflect on the magnetism and mystery of Muscle Shoals and their experiences there. Gregg Allman and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals' magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today.

The Board considered assorted thematic material within the film, including discussion around racism and segregation, tales of tragedy and references to drinking and smoking (tobacco and marijuana). Such material was justified within the context of this documentary and cumulatively imparted a mild impact. The film contained infrequent use of mild coarse language, justified by context. The Board classified this film PG with consumer advice of 'Mild themes and coarse language'.

The Australian documentary film, In Bob We Trust, follows Father Bob Maguire's struggle with being forcibly retired and evicted from his church by the local Archbishop. The film contains themes that have a low sense of threat and/or menace and are justified by context. The film centres on Father Bob's battle with Catholic dogma and refers to his involvement with disadvantaged people over the years. Themes found throughout the film include verbal references to child sexual abuse, paedophilia, prostitution, crime, homelessness and war. The film contains infrequent use of mild coarse language that is justified by context. The Board classified this film PG with consumer advice of 'Mild themes and coarse language'.

M – Recommended for mature audiences 

The M classification is the largest classification category for films.

Out of the total of 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 1 150 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 Board during the reporting period included Gulaab Gang, The Butler, Backyard Ashes, Eyjafjallajokull, The Hunger Games, Ship of Theseus, American Hustle and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Indian film, Gulaab Gang, is in Hindi spoken language (English subtitles) and is about fearless women who fight social injustice, create a sanctuary for abused women, and battle a crooked politician. The film appears to have been inspired by a group of Indian women vigilantes and activists known as the Gulabi gang, who visit abusive husbands and threaten to beat them with laathis (sticks) unless they stop abusing their wives. The film contains moderate violence and themes such as the oppression of women, revenge and political corruption that have a moderate sense of threat and menace. The two elements are justified by context and are, at times, inextricably linked. Much of the violence depicted takes the form of choreographed action sequences in which opponents exchange blows, kicks and punches or using weapons, including guns, poles and axes. Thematic material is rendered as the film portrays the conditions suffered by an all-women vigilante group, including depictions of death and an instance in which one girl is implicitly a victim of sexual assault. The Board classified this film M with consumer advice of 'Mature themes and violence'.

The Indian film, Ship of Theseus, is in Hindi spoken language (English subtitles) and is a triptych of modern Indian fables set in Mumbai. Three central characters each receive a transplanted body organ: a female photographer receives a cornea; a monk receives a liver; and a young stock-broker receives a kidney and subsequently becomes involved in a case of 'kidney tourism' perpetrated against an impoverished bricklayer. The film contains themes that have a moderate sense of threat and/or menace and are justified by context. The themes include, but are not limited to: the use of animals in industrial testing and the link to bio-medical research; the international trade in human body organs; and the challenges of disease and living one's life prior to and after an organ transplant (donor or recipient). The film contains coarse language justified by context. The Board noted that the film contains nudity that was at the upper limit of the PG classification and therefore additional consumer advice was required. The Board classified this film M with consumer advice of 'Mature themes, coarse language and brief nudity'.

The French language film, Eyjafjallajokull, (English subtitles) is a comedy set in 2010 when the ash cloud created by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, shut down European air traffic. In the ensuing chaos, divorced couple Alain and Valérie are forced to reunite and find alternative means of transport to their daughter Cécile's wedding in Greece. The Board found that the most impactful of the classifiable elements were language, violence (including a comedic sequence of pandemonium where Alain is inadvertently struck in the chest by an arrow and Valérie implicitly stitches the wound), and sexual activity and references that were all moderate in viewing impact. The Board found that although comedic, the blood detail and impact exceeded mild, thereby warranting consumer advice for comedic violence at the M classification. The Board classified this film M with consumer advice of 'Coarse language, comedic violence and sexual references'.

The American film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune, all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent. The Board found that the most impactful of the classifiable elements were violence, sex, nudity, and coarse language. In a scene, where J. G. Jopling chases Deputy Kovacs through a museum, Deputy Kovacs opens a sliding door and a short time later the door is slammed shut, severing his four fingers. The fingers fall to the ground and a small amount of blood is seen at the base of each finger. A groaning noise is heard and it is implied that Deputy Kovacs is then murdered by J. G. Jopling. The film contains sexual references and nudity that are discreetly implied and justified by context. The film contains use of coarse language of moderate impact. The Board classified this film M with consumer advice of 'Violence, sexual references, nudity and coarse language'.

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

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, buy 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 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 114 films were classified MA 15+. Films that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included La Venus a la fourrure, Wolf Creek 2, August: Osage County, La Grande Bellezza, Calvary, Thanks for Sharing and Carrie.

In the French language (English subtitles) film, La Venus a la Fourrure, an actress attempts to convince a director that she is perfect for a role in his upcoming production. The Board found that the most impactful classifiable element was coarse language. It also noted that the film required additional consumer advice of 'sexual references' owing to the presence of verbal references to sex that were at the upper limit of that which is able to be accommodated within the lower M classification level. The Board classified this film MA ١٥+ with consumer advice of 'Strong coarse language and sexual references'.

In the American film, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, high-school friends Jesse and Hector become aware of suspicious activity in Jesse's neighbour's apartment and witness supernatural activity culminating in Jesse being bitten. Jesse transforms and takes on demonic behaviour putting his friends and family in harm's way. Notwithstanding the supernatural themes contained in the film, it was the level of strong coarse language and its frequency which the Board found to be the most pervasive classifiable element. The Board noted that pursuant to the Guidelines and the Code, the film could not be accommodated within the M classification, as that classification states, in part, that "aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent and justified by context". The Board classified this film MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong coarse language and supernatural themes'.

R 18+ Restricted – Restricted to 18 and over 

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

Out of the total of 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 101 films were classified R 18+.

Films classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Nymphomaniac (Parts 1 & 2), The Wolf of Wall Street and Wolf Creek 2.

In the English language Danish film, Nymphomaniac (Parts 1 & 2), an ageing bachelor finds in an alley-way a female who has been beaten up and brings her home where she slowly reveals that she is a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac. She details her life in eight self-titled chapters.

In the Board's view, the highest impact classifiable elements in the film were themes, sex and nudity. The themes included realistically depicted sexual practices such as sadomasochism within the context of a female sex addict exploring her sexuality. In addition, the film contained a number of sex scenes and brief depictions of explicit sexual activity. These depictions were contextualised by the languidly paced narrative, which focused particularly on the female protagonist's fleeting sexual relationships but which, more broadly, examined her sexual addiction.

The film contained nudity that was high in viewing impact and, at times, linked to the sex and thematic content. The Board classified this film R 18+ with consumer advice of 'High impact sexual themes, actual sexual activity and nudity'.

The American film, The Wolf of Wall Street, is based on Jordan Belfort's memoir of the same name. It is about a young stockbroker hungry for a life of non-stop thrills, where corruption is king and 'more' is never enough. Belfort had a dramatic rise on Wall Street, a hard-partying lifestyle and tumultuous personal life, including drug and alcohol addiction.

The Board noted that the film contained sexual activity that was realistically simulated and/or high in impact, including adults engaging in realistically simulated sexual activity in numerous scenarios. Throughout the film, there were depictions of drug use that were high in viewing impact. Belfort, a self-confessed 'lover of drugs', frequently indulged his cocaine and Quaalude addiction. The Board found that the frequency and treatment of drug use/abuse (in particular, its glorified effects) cumulatively imparted a high viewing impact. The Board classified this film R 18+ with consumer advice of 'High impact sex scenes and drug use'.

In the Australian film, Wolf Creek 2, outback serial killer, Mick Taylor, is again on a rampage, stalking and killing backpackers visiting Wolf Creek. The film contained violence that was high in viewing impact. Violence in the film was episodic and realistic, as Mick stalked and killed his victims invariably using knives and guns. The violence resulted in copious, realistic blood and gore effects, and included decapitation and dismemberment. Sound effects also added to the impact of the realistic, violent depictions. The Board classified this film R ١٨+ with consumer advice of 'High impact violence'. The Board also notes a modified version of this film was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong bloody violence and coarse language'.

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 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 151 films were classified X 18+.

Films classified X 18+ during the reporting period included Wolverine XXX, An Axel Braun Parody, Kamasutra and the House of Sin.

RC Refused Classification

Out of the total of 3 408 commercial films classified in 2013–14, 10 films were classified RC.

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

COMPUTER GAMES

Decisions for computer games were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games (the Guidelines).

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

Change in consumer advice for computer games

With effect from 6 May 2014, the Classification Board introduced a new consumer advice 'online interactivity' which replaced previously used consumer advices including but not limited to: [Caution] Gaming experience may change online; and [Caution] Online content variable.

The new consumer advice is a general statement which may encompass any or all of the following practices and technologies in, or related to playing, a game:

  • user-to-user communication (eg: texting, or audio or video chat), and media sharing, via social media and networks;
  • user-generated content;
  • links to external or third-party websites;
  • exchange or collection of personal information (eg: e-mail address) with or by third parties;
  • such other opportunities to expand any aspect of the gaming experience to include third-party interactions.

G – General 

The G classification is the largest classification category for computer games.

Out of the total of 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 176 computer games were classified G.

The G classification is for a general audience. While many games at the G classification are targeted towards children, it does not necessarily mean that children will enjoy all games classified G. Popular G games classified during the reporting period include Angry Birds Star Wars, Don Bradman Cricket 14, Just Dance 2014, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures and Skylanders Swap Force.

Driving Simulator 2013 is a third-person perspective game where the player is able to choose to drive a number of vehicles, including a bus, a tow-truck, a police car, an ambulance and a street racing car. It can be played in free play mode, where a player drives around a city grid, or in various mission modes. The game contained themes that have a very low sense of threat and/or menace and are justified by context. When driving an ambulance, a player has to collect 'injured' people (who simply lie prone on the ground) and drive them to the hospital. Overall, the Board was of the view that the game was very mild in playing impact.

Super Motherload is a 1-4 player retro future action digging adventure game for PC and PS3 in which the player's objective is to dig deep into the sub-strata of Mars and collect rare minerals and artefacts in order to financially prosper and upgrade the player's pod, equipment and facility.

The game contains themes that have a very low sense of threat and/or menace and are justified by context. As players earn money for items that are discovered, they can purchase powerful upgrades and supplies for their mining pods as they progress through the storyline and prosper, encountering hidden dangers such as earthquakes and gas pockets. They have the option of destroying planets and receive encrypted radio transmissions indicating the presence of rogue Martians. With its primary focus on the gathering and utilisation of resources, the game did not exceed very mild in playing impact and therefore the Board classified it G.

PG – Parental guidance recommended 

Out of the total of 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 130 computer games were classified PG (Parental Guidance).

Parental guidance for persons under 15 is recommended for games in this classification, as some children may find the material confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. Games classified PG in the reporting period included Foul Play, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, Flashback, Lego Ninjago: Nindroids and Sid Meier's Civilization V: The Complete Edition.

Worms Revolution Extreme, for Sony PlayStation Vita, is a modified version of the previously classified game Worms Revolution, a comedic, turn-based strategy gamed in which players control cartoon worms in a battle to be the last worm standing. It contained new downloadable content that included three new themes and 15 new missions. In the opinion of the Board, the modifications to this game did not contain any classifiable elements that altered the classification given to Worms Revolution, nor did they exceed a mild impact level and the consumer advice remained appropriate. Therefore the Board gave the modified version of the game a PG classification with consumer advice of 'Mild comedic violence, crude humour and coarse language, gaming experience may change online'.

Tropico 5 is a strategy game in which the player, assuming the role of El Presidente, leads a tropical island republic and chooses how to develop it by building houses, factories and farms, setting the political course and influencing industry, social issues, foreign trade and the military. There is a sandbox mode, a campaign mode (in which the player undertakes missions and attempts to save the world from nuclear doom), and multi-player mode in which up to four players vie for control. The elements of themes and violence were, at times, inextricably linked and were justified by context throughout gameplay as the player strategized, making moral choices that affected the game's outcome.

Initially, the player must customise El Presidente, selecting gender, race and skill which can affect the progress of the game. For example, selecting the skill of "General" meant that all Tropical soldiers inflicted 2% more damage; whereas selecting "Cheapskate" meant all constructions were 2% cheaper. The player also has to choose "political rule", such as democracy, capitalism or communism and make moral decisions such as whether to stop a rebellion with military force, assassinate the leader of a political group or threaten the world with nuclear destruction. In the opinion of the Board, the game's treatment of themes and violence resulted in a playing impact that did not exceed mild. Therefore, the game was classified PG with consumer advice of 'Mild themes and violence, coarse language, online interactivity'.

In the single player PC game, X Rebirth, set in the year 3089, the player assumes the role of a freelance space pilot, Ren Otani, trying to survive with his space ship, the Albion Skunk, in a bustling, technologically advanced universe. After successfully completing a series of missions, the player is able to freely roam the universe and focus on activities such as combat, trading and building which affect his wealth and reputation. The game contains infrequent drug references that are justified by context. The player is able to transport "narcotics" which are produced at production plants, however, the narcotics are illegal in the game and the player can be negatively impacted if found transporting them. In the opinion of the Board, given the context within the game, the drug references did not exceed mild in impact. The game contained infrequent mild violence, justified by context. The player is able to perform attacks on enemy spaceships and space stations either during free play or within missions. Attacks involve shooting weapons such as lasers and missiles from the player's spaceship. The attacks are viewed from the player's first-person perspective with impacting projectiles resulting in light flashes, explosions, clouds of smoke and flying debris. The death of the player or any non-playable character is depicted by the explosion of their spaceship or space station. The Board accordingly classified the game PG with consumer advice of 'Mild drug references and violence'.

M – Recommended for mature audiences 

Out of the total of 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 80 computer games were classified M.

Computer games 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.

Computer games classified M by the Board during the reporting period included Daylight, Dark Souls II, Killer Instinct, Magic 2015: Duel of the Planeswalkers, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, The Elder Scrolls Online, Ultra Street Fighter IV, Strider, Total Recoil and Crimson Dragon.

BlazBlue Chronophantasma is a head-to-head fighting game and is one of several in the BlazBlue franchise. It is set in a futuristic fantasy world and features a central character called Ragna the Bloodedge. The player is able to select from a range of playable characters, each with their own fighting style, weaponry, costumes and special moves in order to compete against the computer or other players on the network in modes such as Tutorial Mode, Challenge Mode, Story Mode and Arcade Mode. The game contains sexual references that are discreetly implied, justified by context and unrelated to incentives and rewards. The element of sex within the game is, for the most part, rendered via depictions of female characters in sexualised costumes which feature partial breast and buttock nudity. In the opinion of the Board, such images imparted an impact exceeding mild and warranted an M classification. The Board noted that the game contained violence that is at the upper limit of the PG classification and which therefore required additional consumer advice. Accordingly, the Board classified the game M with consumer advice of 'Sexualised images and violence'.

Orc Attack: Flatulent Rebellion is a third-person fantasy/'beat 'em up' game, where a player controls a flatulent orc which has to battle against hordes of humans as well as evil robots. The game contains moderate (mainly in-close) violence as the player controls an orc who is armed with a spiked club, a giant glowing hammer or another melee weapon. The orc is set upon by hordes of enemies including ancient Egyptians, mummies, wizards, villagers and archers.

Each level culminates in a boss battle in which the orc has to fight larger enemies, including giant robots. Game-play involves swinging the melee weapon wildly and using the orc's flatulence and burping prowess. When enemies are hit with weapons, they emit large sprays of red, jelly-like blood. Exaggerated ragdoll effects are also seen. The orc can expel gas—represented by a green cloud—and cause enemies to freeze and if the orc expels gas onto a firefly or flaming pot, an explosion occurs. The explosion can briefly set enemies on fire, but in all cases, the enemies disappear after a short amount of time. The Board noted that the game contained crude humour that was at the upper limit of the PG classification and therefore additional consumer advice was required. The Board accordingly classified the game M with consumer advice of 'Violence and crude humour, gaming experience may change online'.

Slender: The Arrival is an Xbox console version of the online, experimental horror game Slender: The Eight Pages. In this expanded version, players explore haunting environments, armed with a video camera and torch, and attempt to uncover the mystery behind a sinister figure known as the Slender Man. The game contains horror themes that have a moderate sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. Viewed in the first-person throughout, the player, armed with video camera and a torch, searches dark and shadowy environments including isolated and run-down buildings, woodlands and tunnels as the player searches for clues during the night. The malevolent Slender Man lurks in the shadows and, if not avoided or outrun, suddenly lunges at the player and, as he implicitly attacks, is viewed in close-up with a ghostly white face and black hollows for eyes and mouth. High-quality visuals and, at times, realistic graphics served to heighten impact throughout the game. The Board classified the game M with consumer advice of 'Horror themes'.

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

Computer games 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 buy or hire a MA 15+ computer game. MA 15+ computer games contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity that have a strong impact.

Out of the total of 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 47 computer games were classified MA 15+. Computer games that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: Jackdaw Edition, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit!Hanzo X Crimson Squad.

Call of Duty: Ghosts, the latest instalment in the Call of Duty series, is a realistic first-person war shooter set in the near future where the United States of America has been attacked by a South American uprising known as the Federation. The player sets out on a number of missions in a bid to prevent the invasion and fight Federation enemies. In addition, the game has an "Extinction" mode which features round-based gameplay where the player must survive multiple waves of attacking creatures and aliens. The game has online multi-player capabilities where players may communicate via text and audio. The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context. Violence is depicted from a first-person perspective and occurs in the context of military missions where the player is a member of "Ghosts", a remnant of the US special operations forces, who must fight invading enemies and stop the Federation invasion of the US. The player has access to a wide range of weaponry including knives, firearms, sniper rifles, explosives, armed helicopters as well as drones that may be employed against enemies. Violence occurs mainly in the medium distance resulting in blood misting, occasional blood pooling and blood spray, however, no wound detail is depicted throughout the game. The Board classified this game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong violence, gaming experience may change online'.

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is a compilation of the landmark first-person shooter that includes enhanced versions of Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic edition and three unique expansion packs as well as the original version of the game. It follows Duke Nukem, a hyperbolic action hero whose primary objective is to overcome an alien race that has launched an invasion on Earth and commenced a hybridisation program using kidnapped women from Earth. The Board noted that a version of this computer game had been classified previously MA 15+ (with consumer advice of 'High level animated violence and sexual references') on 9 May 1997. In the opinion of the Board, the modifications to this game did not contain any classifiable elements that altered this classification or exceeded a strong impact level and the consumer advice remained appropriate. Therefore the Board classified this game MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong violence and sexualised violence' (the consumer advice being updated to reflect current practice).

Goat Simulator is a simulation game for PC played in a third-person perspective where the player controls a goat with the aim to cause maximum chaos and destruction to the suburban environment by ramming, bashing, licking and jumping at humans, animals and inert objects. The player is rewarded with points depending on the level of success in the various quests as well as unlocking hidden objects and figures. The game also contains several mini games. The game contains themes that cumulatively are strong in impact and justified by context. Themes within the game relate to violence, anti-social behaviour and crude humour. The Board noted that while game had a comedic tone throughout, the cumulative impact of the crude elements within the game exceeded a moderate impact. The Board classified the game, MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong crude humour, online interactivity'.

Saints Row IV is an open-world action-adventure game in which the player assumes the role of The Protagonist, leader of the Third Street Saints who has been elected President of the United States and whose objective is to liberate Steelport and free humanity from an alien invasion led by Zinyak, Supreme Overlord of the Zin Empire. The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context. The game allows the playable character, The Protagonist, to fight humans in a 'real world' setting as well as simulated humans in a (matrix-like) virtual reality. Players frequently engage in battle against aliens, cyborgs, humans and, at certain times, strange creatures such as a monstrous soft drink can or a mutant man-cat using a variety of weapons including pistols, rifles, machine guns as well as 'alien weapons' which can be used to suck victims into black holes or set them on fire. The player also uses hand-to-hand combat moves (including punches, kicks and head-stomps) and can also employ a range of super powers that can freeze, levitate, electrocute, shrink and ram their enemies.

The violence within the game has a strong playing impact owing to its frequency and emphasis on blood effects. However, in the opinion of the Board, the depictions of violence were mitigated by the stylised and unrealistic attacks that occur within a futuristic science-fiction setting against (predominantly) non-human characters. As such, the game was able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of 'Strong violence, gaming experience may change online'. The Board notes that an earlier version of this game was submitted for classification during the previous reporting period and the Board classified that game RC due to inclusion of drug use related to incentives and rewards and a visual depiction of implied sexual violence. This modified version of the game could be accommodated in the MA 15+ category.

R 18+ Restricted – Restricted to 18 and over 

The R 18+ classification category is wide in scope giving effect to the Code principle that adults should, with limited exceptions, be able to read, hear and see what they want. The R 18+ classification is legally restricted to adults. Children under 18 are not permitted to rent or buy R 18+ computer games. 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 458 computer games classified in 2013–14, 23 computer games were classified R 18+.

Computer games classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Grand Theft Auto V; South Park: The Stick of Truth, Outlast, The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Ep 2, A House Divided and Atelier Rorona Plus The Alchemist of Arland.

State of Decay is a modified third-person survival/horror shooter game set in a small American town during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Players navigate open-world environments, battling zombie attacks, as they scavenge for supplies and collaborate with other survivors to ensure the survival of the human race. The game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact. Throughout this third-person horror shooter, players battle hordes of zombies using melee weapons, guns and explosives. The violence is sometimes frenetic and is the primary aspect of gameplay. Zombies (which mostly appear human-like) can be injured with ranged or melee weapons, causing large, stylised wounds to appear on their bodies. It is possible to dismember, decapitate and stomp on the heads of zombies; these depictions are accompanied by significant wound detail as well as sprays of flesh and blood. In the opinion of the Board, the game's blood and wound detail coupled with the frequency of the violence exceed strong in playing impact. Therefore, the Board classified the game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'High impact violence'. The Board notes that an earlier version of this game was submitted for classification during the previous reporting period and the Board classified that game RC, due to inclusion of drug use related to incentives and rewards. This content was modified in this classified version.

Ryse: Son of Rome is a third-person action adventure game for Xbox in which the player assumes the role of Marius Titus, a fearless Roman soldier who joins the army to seek vengeance for the slaying of his family. The game contains violence that is high in impact. The playable character frequently engages in battle against human opponents using weapons such as swords, spears, axes and a shield – causing decapitation, dismemberment, impalement and stabbings that are accompanied by copious blood burst and spatter effects as well as extensive blood pooling that appears in the playing environment. The game emphasises acts of violence by use of slow-motion effects while executing 'finishing moves'. In the opinion of the Board, the violence within the game (which is realistically portrayed against human characters) is relentless, strong and frequent and exceeds strong in impact. The Board classified this game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'High impact violence'.

Fable Anniversary is a remake of the original, 2004 game, Fable, with updated graphics. It is a third-person, role-playing, action adventure game in which the player roams the medieval fantasy world of Albion as a member of the Heroes Guild, encountering various threats and people in need and electing to take either good or evil courses of action which impact ongoing gameplay. The game contains sex related to incentives and rewards and therefore warrants being legally restricted to adults. The player character is able to visit a bordello where he can choose to pay for sex with a selection of prostitutes or to accept a job as a "working girl" and be paid to have sex with the male character, Grope. In the opinion of the Board the gameplay exceeds what can be accommodated at the MA 15+ classification as, pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games, within the MA 15+ classification category, "Sexual activity may be implied. Sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards." The Board classified the game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'Sexual activity related to incentives and rewards'.

RC Refused Classification

In 2013–14, out of the total of 458 computer games classified, one computer game was classified RC, twice (each a different modified version).

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

The computer game that was classified RC during the reporting period was South Park: The Stick of Truth. One version of the game was classified RC on 19 September 2013. A second modified version was classified RC on 7 November 2013. The game is an action adventure, role playing game for PC which features characters and storylines from the television series South Park. In the view of the Board, this game warranted an RC classification in accordance with items 1(a) and (b) of the computer games table (clause 4) of the National Classification Code. This game featured animated sequences depicting sexual violence which also featured a child character and adult characters. While the Board acknowledged that the game was satirical in tone and intent, the content exceeded what is able to be accommodated within the R 18+ guidelines, which states that "implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted". Accordingly, the Board classified the game RC.

A third modified version of the game was submitted to the Board during this reporting period and, noting the removal or modification of the content described, the Board classified the game R 18+ with the consumer advice 'High impact crude humour, sex scenes and references to sexual violence'.

OTHER DECISIONS

Internet Content

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified 30 internet content items. These applications were made by the Australian Media and Communication Authority (ACMA). In the reporting period, 11 items of internet content were Refused Classification (see page 39 for breakdown of statistics).

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

One item submitted for classification consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website embedded within a two-page PDF document containing a for-sale listing for a product which included text descriptions and images. The product was listed under the subheading "Medical, Special Needs > Other" and was described as "the most advanced synthetic urine system". Included in the system was a prosthetic penis in either white or tan, 4 Heat Packs, 1 Syringe, Freeze dried synthetic urine sample (and) Instruction Manual. A small image advertising the product contained a depiction of the prosthetic penis (obscured by a banner),

syringe and sachets containing a urine-like substance. In the opinion of the Board, the listing lacked descriptive detail regarding the specific uses for the item and as such the content imparted a mild viewing impact. The Board classified the content PG pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Another item consisted of what appeared to be a page titled "How I Lost My Period on a Raw Vegan Diet" from a website embedded within a PDF document. It contained a YouTube clip of a self-styled health and diet expert promoting a raw vegan diet, accompanying text and links to other YouTube content. The classifiable element was language that was moderate in viewing impact. The Board classified the content M pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Exemptions To Show Unclassified Films and Computer Games

During 2013–14, the Director finalised 779 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films and computer games at film festivals and special film and computer game events. No films or computer games within these applications were refused an exemption. There were 609 applications finalised in the previous reporting period.

Fee Waivers

The Director granted eight fee waivers during the reporting period.

Advertising Assessments

The Board made 32 assessments of the likely classification of films and one assessment of the likely classification of a computer game for the purpose of advertising those products with classified material.

Advertising Approvals

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

Exemption Certificates

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

Revocation Decisions

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

Call Ins

The Director called in 22 publications and 19 films for classification during the reporting period. The publications were called in from two different distributors and the films were called in from two different distributors.

None of the distributors complied with the Director's call-in notice. The matters were referred to the relevant enforcement agencies in the states in which the distributors were based.

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 Board received 483 complaints. There were:

  • 3 complaints about decisions for publications
  • 93 complaints about decisions for films
  • 355 complaints about decisions for computer games
  • 32 general complaints about associated classification matters.

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

In the previous financial year, the Board received 1,001 complaints. The reduction in complaints compared to this year's figure can largely be explained by the reduction in the number of complaints about decisions for computer games.

The films which attracted the most complaints were Grown Ups 2, The Counselor, The Wolf of Wall Street and Muppets: Most Wanted. The computer games which attracted the most complaints were Saints Row IV, State of Decay and South Park: The Stick of Truth.

Publications

The Classification Board made 230 classification decisions for publications in the reporting period (this included 35 serial publication declarations).

Three complaints were received about the classification of publications. These were about the book To Train up a Child which was classified on 16 March 2012 Unrestricted with consumer advice of 'Mature—not recommended for readers under 15 years'. The complainants were of the view that the book should be Refused Classification.

Films

The Classification Board made 3 387 classification decisions for films in 2013–14.

The Board received 93 complaints about the classifications of films. This compares with 122 complaints in 2012–13.

There were seven complaints about Grown Ups 2. The complainants were of the view that the PG classification with consumer advice of 'Mild crude humour, violence, sexual references, nudity and coarse language' was too low.

The film The Counselor received six complaints in the reporting period. The film was classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of 'Strong bloody violence and sex scenes'. The complainants were all of the opinion that the film's classification was too low.

The film The Wolf of Wall Street which was classified R 18+ with the consumer advice 'High impact sex scenes and drug use', attracted five complaints in the reporting period. Two complainants believed the film's classification was too low and two believed it was too high. One complainant thought the consumer advice was insufficient.

There were four complaints about Muppets: Most Wanted. The complainants were of the view that the G classification was too low.

Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles with some titles subject to only a single complaint and the rest subject to less than four complaints.

Computer games

The Classification Board made 458 classification decisions for computer games in 2013–14.

The Board received 355 complaints about computer games. Two hundred and sixty two of the complaints were about the Refused Classification (RC) decisions for the computer games Saints Row IV and State of Decay which were classified in the previous reporting period.

There were 51 complaints about the computer games South Park: The Stick of Truth being Refused Classification (RC). On 19 September 2013 the Board classified Codename (Alternative title South Park: The Stick of Truth) Refused Classification (RC). The Board received an application to classify a different version of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Under classification legislation, any changes to a computer game make the game unclassified and therefore able to be submitted for a fresh classification decision. On 7 November 2013, the Board classified this modified version of the game RC. The Board was of the view that content for the game exceeded the R 18+ classification, as per the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which state that: "Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted."

On 21 November 2013, a third version of South Park: The Stick of Truth was classified R 18+ with the consumer advice 'High impact crude humour, sex scenes and references to sexual violence'. The Board observed that the game contained the classifiable elements of themes, sex and violence that were high in playing impact. The Board noted modifications made to this game which allowed the game to be classified R 18+. The Board further noted the game contained coarse language and nudity that could be accommodated within a lower classification.

The Board received 11 complaints about the computer game Watch Dogs. The Board classified the computer game R 18+ with consumer advice of 'References to sexual violence and sex scenes'. The complainants were of the opinion that the computer game was classified too high.

There were seven complaints about the computer game Grand Theft Auto V which is classified R 18+ with consumer advice of 'Drug use'. Four of the complaints were that that the classification was too low, one that it was too high, and two that there should have been additional consumer advice.

Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles with some titles subject to only a single complaint and several with more than one complaint.

Other Complaints

There were also 32 complaints that covered classification-related issues.

The majority of the complaints were in relation to the classification of computer games, particularly in relation to the R 18+ and RC decisions. Many expressed concern that the Classification Board edits computer games. The Board does not modify or cut material, or direct that cuts be made to material. It classifies material in the form in which the distributor has submitted it.

Other complaints included concerns about consumer advice and depictions of female nudity in publications.

Table 14: Complaints

Complaints
Publications decisions
3
Films decisions
93
Computer games decisions
355
General complaints
32
Total
483

Enquiries and other assistance

The department responds to a range of other enquiries which are related to classification policy matters.

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