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Review Board

CLASSIFICATION REVIEW BOARD ANNUAL REPORT 2013–14

CONVENOR'S LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

Classification review board Convenor's letter of transmittal HTML version available from link below 

Convenor's Letter of Transmittal alt text

INTRODUCTION

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

This report includes an overview of the work of the Review Board in 2013–14.

The Review Board receives secretariat support from the Classification Branch of the department.

CONVENOR'S OVERVIEW

Convenor of the Classification Review Board – Victoria Rubensohn 

This is my sixth report as Convenor of the Classification Review Board and it was a busy year for the Review Board with 19 applications for review being conducted. Various members of the Review Board convened for 10 days to make decisions.

The minister submitted 13 applications to the Review Board at the request of the South Australian Attorney-General. The reviews were for the classifications of the film Rampage (13 December 2013) and 12 computer games: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist, Borderlands 2: Add-on Content Pack, Fuse, Deadpool, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, God Mode, The Walking Dead, Company of Heroes 2, Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut, Gears of War: Judgment, Killer is Dead and Alien Rage (18, 19 November, 2, 5 and 12 December 2013). None of these reviews resulted in a change to the classifications with all remaining at MA 15+.

The Review Board also considered reviews for the classifications of the computer game Saints Row IV (29 July 2013, upheld the original decision of RC), the film—ACMA INV-0000-3781 (23 October 2013, overturned the original decision of R 18+ and classified RC), the revocation of a serial classification of the publication Australian Penthouse (5 November 2013, overturned the original decision to revoke) and the films American Hustle (5 December 2013, overturned the original decision of MA 15+ and classified M), Inside Llewyn Davis (12 December 2013, overturned the original decision of MA 15+ and classified M) and Blended (1 May 2014, overturned the original decision of M and classified PG).

I would like to thank the Review Board members for their professionalism and dedication during 2013–14 and I look forward to continuing our work together.

I would also like to offer my thanks to the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, for his continued support during 2013–14.

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

Victoria Rubensohn AM
Convenor

CLASSIFICATION REVIEW BOARD PROFILES

Convenor of the Classification Review Board – Victoria Rubensohn 

VICTORIA RUBENSOHN AM

Convenor
APPOINTED: 6 February 2009
REAPPOINTED: 6 February 2012
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 February 2015

Ms Victoria Rubensohn AM holds a Master of Arts degree, a Master of Human Rights degree, a Bachelor of Laws degree, and has been a Member of the Order of Australia since 2004. She has worked in radio and television in Australia and the USA—and more generally in communications, especially in communications regulatory policy, for most of her professional life.

Ms Rubensohn has been a Member of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, a Member of the Immigration Review Tribunal and Chairman of the National Film and Sound Archive. She has chaired Australian Government committees in the communications and intellectual property areas. Ms Rubensohn also chaired the Telephone Information Services Standards Council for 15 years and was a Consumer Member of the Mobile Premium Services Code Review Committee in 2011–12.

She is Consumer Director of Communications Compliance Ltd, a member of the Standing Advisory Committee on Consumer Affairs of the Australian Communications Consumer Network and is the Independent Reviewer of the Advertising Standards Bureau. Ms Rubensohn runs an international communications consultancy, specialising in regulatory policy, is a Director of the Communications Law Centre and is the founding Director and Secretary of Media Access Australia.

Deputy Convenor of the Classification Review Board – Fiona Jolly 

FIONA JOLLY

Deputy Convenor
APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 6 December 2014

Ms Fiona Jolly, 46, resides in Wamboin NSW and works in the ACT. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Advertising Standards Bureau and previously held numerous positions with a number of Australian Government agencies. Ms Jolly has also held positions on numerous Boards including as Chair of the Australian Business Volunteers (current), the Ministerial Advisory Council for Women (ACT), Majura Primary School Board and as National President of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Australia.

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

Classification Review Board Member – Helena Blundell 

HELENA BLUNDELL

APPOINTED: 17 September 2009
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED: 16 September 2013

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

Classification Review Board Member – Melissa de Zwart 

MELISSA DE ZWART

APPOINTED: 17 September 2009
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED: 16 June 2014

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

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

Classification Review Board Member – Jane Smith 

JANE SMITH

APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 6 December 2014

Ms Jane Smith, 55, lives in Ballarat, Victoria. She is currently the inaugural Director of the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, a technology rich interactive museum. Her previous role was as Director of theshinyshinyworld Pty Ltd, an organisation providing strategic advice on a range of communications, technology and organisational issues and creating a range of projects. Ms Smith's previous positions include senior roles with the ABC from 1990 to 1997, Chief Executive Officer with the NSW Film and Television Office from 1997 to 2006 and Vice President of Seed Productions, actor Hugh Jackman's production company in 2007. Ms Smith was then the inaugural Head of the Centre for Screenwriting at the Australian Film Television and Radio School 2009–10.

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

Classification Review Board Member – Peter Attard 

PETER ATTARD

APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 6 December 2014

Mr Peter Attard, 46, lives in Melbourne, Victoria. He works at Attelier Imports, importing and selling gourmet food, wine and beer from Malta. He has created and taught Media, Visual Literacy, Visual Arts and Photography curriculum in both Secondary and TAFE education, as well as serving as Co-ordinator of these studies at various colleges in Victoria. Mr Attard has been a committee member of the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM), judged ATOM student film awards and is a member of the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

Mr Attard holds a Bachelor of Education (Visual Arts) from the University of Melbourne. He is the father of three teenage children, is a regular user of social media and is actively involved in his local community through his children's sporting commitments.

LEGISLATIVE BASE

The Review Board is established under the Classification Act. The Classification Act provides that the Review Board is to consist of a Convenor, a Deputy Convenor and at least three, but no more than eight, other members.
The Governor-General appoints members of the Review Board. Under the Classification Act, the minister must, before recommending an appointment, consult with state and territory ministers with responsibility for classification. The Classification Act also requires that regard is to be had to the desirability of ensuring that membership of the Review Board is broadly representative of the Australian community.

DECISIONS OF THE REVIEW BOARD

In the reporting period, the Review Board conducted 19 reviews.

These were for the review of the classification for 13 computer games, the classification for five films and one for the decision to revoke a serial classification of a publication.

Thirteen of the reviews (one film and 12 computer games) were submitted by the minister at the request of the South Australian Attorney-General.

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.

The reviews were completed within the statutory timeframe.

The reports for the Review Board's decisions are published on the classification website at www.classification.gov.au.

Table 15: Decisions of the Review Board

Title
Media
Review applicant
Review Decision
Original classification
Review
classification
Saints Row IV Game Koch Media Gmbh 29 July 2013
RC
RC
ACMA INV-0000-3781 Film Australian Federal Police 23 Oct 2013
R 18+
RC
Australian Penthouse Magazine Horwitz
Publications
5 Nov 2013
Revoked
Not Revoked
Alien Rage Game Minister at request SA AG 18 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Killer is Dead Game Minister at request SA AG 18 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Gears of War: Judgment Game Minister at request SA AG 18 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut Game Minister at request SA AG 19 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Company of Heroes 2 Game Minister at request SA AG 19 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
The Walking Dead Game Minister at request SA AG 19 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
God Mode Game Minister at request SA AG 19 Nov 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct Game Minister at request SA AG 2 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Deadpool Game Minister at request SA AG 2 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Fuse Game Minister at request SA AG 2 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Borderlands 2: Add-on Content Pack Game Minister at request SA AG 5 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
American Hustle Film Roadshow Film Distributors 5 Dec 2013
MA 15+
M
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist Game Minister at request SA AG 12 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Inside Llewyn Davis Film Roadshow Film Distributors 12 Dec 2013
MA 15+
M
Rampage Film Minister at request SA AG 13 Dec 2013
MA 15+
MA 15+
Blended Film Roadshow Films 2 May 2014
M
PG

ATTENDANCE AT REVIEW BOARD MEETINGS

The Review Board convened for 10 days in 2013–14 to deal with 19 applications.

Table 16: Attendance at Review Board meetings

Review Board member
Meetings
2013–14
Number of meeting days 2013–14
Victoria Rubensohn (VR), Convenor, NSW
14
7
Fiona Jolly (FJ), Deputy Convenor, ACT
13
6
Melissa de Zwart (MDZ), SA
18
9
Helena Blundell (HB), NT
0
0
Jane Smith (JS), NSW
6
3
Peter Attard (PA), VIC
18
9

Table 17: Composition of panels in 2013–14

Title
Number of meeting days
Panel members
Saints Row IV
1
VR, PA, JS
ACMA INV-0000-3781
1
FJ, MDZ, PA
Australian Penthouse
1
FJ, MDZ, JS
Alien Rage
1
PA, MDZ, FJ
Killer is Dead
1
PA, MDZ, FJ
Gears of War: Judgment
1
VR, PA, MDZ, FJ
Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut
1
VR, JS, PA, MDZ, FJ
Company of Heroes 2
1
VR, JS, PA, MDZ, FJ
The Walking Dead
1
VR, JS, PA, MDZ, FJ
God Mode
1
VR, JS, PA, MDZ, FJ
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
1
VR, PA, MDZ, FJ
Deadpool
1
VR, PA, MDZ, FJ
Fuse
1
VR, PA, MDZ, FJ
Borderlands 2: Add-on Content Pack
1
VR, PA, MDZ
American Hustle
1
VR, PA, MDZ
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
1
VR, PA, MDZ
Inside Llewyn Davis
1
VR, PA, MDZ
Rampage
1
VR, PA, MDZ
Blended
1
FJ, MDZ, PA

COMPLAINTS

The Review Board received 78 complaints about its decisions in the reporting period.

There were two complaints about the film American Hustle being classified too low.

There were 77 complaints that the computer game Saints Row IV should not be Refused Classification.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Aspects of a Review Board decision can be reviewed, on application, by the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).

In the reporting period, no application for review of the Review Board's decisions was lodged with the Federal Court.