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Annual report 2016–17

Classification Board and Classification Review Board Annual Reports 2016–17

Classification Board and Classification Review Board

Annual Reports 2016–17

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
ISSN 1327-6182

This Annual Report 2016–17 is protected by copyright.

With the exception of third party material, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and any material contained within which is protected by trademark, all material included in this Annual Report 2016–17 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

The CC BY 4.0 AU Licence is a standard form license agreement that allows you to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt material in this publication provided that you attribute the work. Further details of the relevant licence conditions are available on the Creative Commons website (accessible using the links provided) as is the full legal code for the CC BY 4.0 International licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode).

The form of attribution for any permitted use of any materials from this publication (and any material sourced from it) is:

Source: Licences from the Commonwealth of Australia under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The Commonwealth of Australia does not necessarily endorse the content of this publication.

Other use

The use of any material from this publication in a way not permitted or otherwise allowed under the Copyright Act 1968, may be an infringement of copyright. Where you wish to use the material in a way that is not permitted, you must lodge a request for further authorisation with the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Contact details

This report can be viewed online at www.classification.gov.au
If you would like additional information on the report, please contact:

Classification Branch
Department of Communications and the Arts
Levels 5 and 6
23–33 Mary Street
SURRY HILLS NSW 2010

Postal address:
Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240

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

Contents

Introduction

Overview of the National Classification Scheme

Commonwealth

States and territories

Other functions

Corporate overview

Legislative governance structures

Administrative arrangements

Establishment and maintenance of appropriate ethical standards

Membership

Freedom of Information

Categories of documents

Privacy

Reports by the Auditor-General

Changes to the National Classification Scheme

Commonwealth Ombudsman

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Classification Board Annual Report 2016–17

Acting Director's letter of transmittal

Director's overview

Classification Board profiles

Current Board members

Temporary Board members

Board members who left the Classification Board in 2016–17

Statistics

Key achievements

Timeliness of decisions

Classification Board workload

Comparison with last year's workload

Quality decision making

Publications

Serial classification declarations for publications

Films classified for public exhibition

Films classified for sale/hire

Computer games

Decisions of approved classification tools – section 22CF of the Classification Act

Other decisions

Decisions

Films

Publications

Computer games

Other decisions

Correspondence

Complaints

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Classification Review Board Annual Report 2016–17

Convenor's letter of transmittal

Introduction

Convenor's overview

Classification Review Board profiles

Current Board members

Legislative base

Decisions of the Review Board

Attendance at Review Board meetings

Complaints

Judicial decisions

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Appendices

Appendix: National Classification Code

National Classification Code

Publications

Films

Computer games

Glossary

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Tables

Table 01: Timeliness of classification decisions by application type

Table 02: Decisions

Table 03: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification

Table 04: Commercial (single issue) publications Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Table 05: Serial classification declarations granted by classification

Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition

Table 07: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire

Table 08: Commercial films classified for sale/hire Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Table 09: Commercial computer games decisions by classification

Table 10: Commercial computer game applications Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Table 11: Enforcement application decisions by agency

Table 12: Internet content decisions by classification

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

Table 14: Complaints

Table 15: Decisions of the Review Board

Table 16: Attendance at Review Board meetings

Figures

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions

Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations

Figure 03: Decisions on films classified for public exhibition

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

Figure 05: Computer game classification decisions (including AACG)

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Introduction

This report includes the reports of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board.

Information about the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board is also available on the Australian Classification website at www.classification.gov.au. Guidelines on the classification of films, computer games and publications, as well as the national classification database, are on the website. A copy of this report is available on the website, as are Annual Reports from previous years.

The Classification Branch of the Department of Communications and the Arts provides administrative support to both the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board. Further information about the Classification Branch is available in the Department of Communications and the Arts Annual Report 2016–17 or at www.communications.gov.au.

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Overview of the National Classification Scheme

The National Classification Scheme (the Scheme) is a cooperative arrangement between the Commonwealth, states and territories. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship underpins the Scheme.

The Commonwealth's contribution to the Scheme includes the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) (the Classification Act). The Classification Act provides that the Classification Board classifies films, computer games and certain publications. The Classification Act also establishes the review mechanism, the Classification Review Board, which, on application, reviews certain decisions made by the Classification Board.

The states and territories enforce classification decisions under their respective classification enforcement legislation. There are also some Commonwealth offence provisions in the Classification Act which are part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory legislation package (formerly known as the Northern Territory Emergency Response) as well as offences regarding the unlawful use of markings in relation to goods other than films, computer games or publications.

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Commonwealth

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth)

The Classification Act establishes the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board. The Boards are independent from government and from each other. The Classification Act requires that, in appointing members of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board, regard is to be had to the desirability of ensuring that membership of the Boards is broadly representative of the Australian community.

The Classification Act also sets out:

  • classification types
  • statutory requirements for applications for classification
  • powers and functions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board
  • processes for industry assessment of certain material
  • provisions for the approval of advertisements for certain products
  • statutory criteria for review of classification decisions
  • provisions pertaining to reclassification, and
  • provisions pertaining to prohibited material in prohibited material areas.

The Classification Act is available online at www.legislation.gov.au.

National Classification Code

The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board must make classification decisions in accordance with the Classification Act, the National Classification Code (the Code) and classification guidelines.

The Code lists and broadly describes the classification types. Commonwealth, state and territory ministers with responsibility for classification agree to the Code. The Code is registered on the Federal Register of Legislation at www.legislation.gov.au. The Code is available in the Appendix here.

Classification guidelines

The Guidelines for the Classification of Films, Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games and Guidelines for the Classification of Publications (the classification guidelines) are used by the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board to assist them in applying the criteria in the Code by describing the classification types, and setting out the scope and limits of material suitable for each classification type. The classification guidelines are approved by all ministers with responsibility for classification. The classification guidelines are registered on the Federal Register of Legislation at www.legislation.gov.au.

There is a range of other determinations, instruments and principles applying to classification and they can be found online on the classification website at www.classification.gov.au or at www.legislation.gov.au.

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States and territories

As partners in the Scheme, each state and territory has classification legislation that complements the Commonwealth Classification Act. The legislation sets out how films, publications and computer games can be sold, hired, exhibited, advertised and demonstrated in that jurisdiction. It prescribes penalties for classification offences and provides for enforcement of classification decisions. Some jurisdictions have reserved censorship powers.

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Other functions

In addition to making classification decisions about films, computer games and certain publications, the Classification Board and the Director of the Classification Board perform a number of other functions under the Scheme.

Exemptions to show unclassified films

On 11 September 2015, new exemption arrangements commenced for special events such as film festivals, computer games expos, and for cultural institutions wishing to exhibit unclassified films, computer games and certain publications. Prior to that date, event organisers were required to apply to the Director of the Classification Board for an exemption from the usual classification requirements. Under the Conditional Cultural Exemptions Rules, event organisers can now self-assess their eligibility for exemption. If they comply with the standard conditions, event organisers can simply register their event online.

Some organisations that conduct activities of an educational, cultural or artistic nature and have a sound reputation may be eligible to become Approved Cultural Institutions (ACIs). ACIs are not required to register their events but instead undertake training provided by the Classification Branch. Trained persons then assess unclassified material for events held under the auspices of the ACI and must ensure compliance with legislative requirements.

In exceptional circumstances, where the prescribed conditions cannot be met, an organisation may still apply to the Director of the Classification Board for a waiver or variation to the exemption rules.

Industry assessors

Applications for classification can be lodged under assessor schemes for certain content.

None of the assessor schemes is mandatory. Applications may still be made to the Classification Board without using the schemes.

Authorised Assessor Scheme for Computer Games

Under the Classification Act, the Director may authorise a person who has completed the required training to recommend the classification for a computer game. If a computer game is likely to be classified G (General), PG (Parental Guidance) or M (Mature), an authorised assessor may submit an application for classification with a report recommending the classification and consumer advice for the computer game. The Board may accept or vary the recommendation.

Additional Content Assessor Scheme

The Director may authorise trained persons to assess additional content which accompanies a previously classified or exempt film released for sale or hire. These assessors can make a recommendation regarding the classification and consumer advice for the additional content. Additional content includes material such as "making of" documentaries, out-takes and commentaries or interviews with the director or actors. Under this scheme, additional content does not include television programs, series or computer games.

When an application for these types of products is accompanied by a report recommending the classification and consumer advice, the Classification Board considers the recommendation before making a classification decision.

Authorised Television Series Assessor Scheme

The Director may authorise trained assessors to consider films that consist of one or more episodes of a television series, as well as any series-related material, and recommend an appropriate classification and consumer advice to the Classification Board.

At least one episode of the television series must have been broadcast in Australia. The scheme does not apply to films that would be classified X 18+ (Restricted) or RC (Refused Classification).

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The Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme

The Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme (the Advertising Scheme) allows for the advertising of unclassified films and computer games under certain conditions. The conditions are prescribed in the Classification (Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme) Determination 2009.

Generally, advertising for unclassified films and computer games must display the message "Check the Classification" (or "CTC" in its shortened form).

Check the Classification

For certain forms of advertising, once a film or computer game is classified, the advertising message must be removed and be replaced with the classification marking.

Another condition is a "commensurate audience" rule. This means that unclassified films and games, when advertised with already classified material, may only be advertised with material of the same or higher classification. Under this scheme, appropriately trained and authorised industry assessors assess the likely classification of unclassified films or computer games for this purpose.

The Advertising Scheme includes a number of safeguards and sanctions. These include the Director of the Classification Board having powers to revoke or suspend an assessor's authorisation and prohibit a distributor from advertising their unclassified products for up to three years in certain circumstances.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is responsible for decisions on the status of material imported into, or exported from, Australia. The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Prohibited Imports Regulations) prescribe classes of goods that must not be imported into Australia. The Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (the Prohibited Exports Regulations) prescribe classes of goods that must not be exported from Australia.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection can detain or seize any material it believes may contravene Regulation 4A of the Prohibited Imports Regulations or Regulation 3 of the Prohibited Exports Regulations. The criteria in Regulation 4A and Regulation 3 accord with the RC criteria in the Code and the Classification Act.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection may also apply for classification of items intercepted at the border.

The Director and Deputy Director of the Classification Board are authorised under subregulation 4A(2A) of the Prohibited Imports Regulations and subregulation 3(3) of the Prohibited Exports Regulations to grant requests for permission to import goods to which the Prohibited Imports Regulations apply, or to export goods to which the Prohibited Exports Regulations apply.

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Australian Communications and Media Authority

The Classification Board does not classify material that is broadcast on radio or television networks.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) establishes a co-regulatory scheme for broadcast services including radio and television relying on codes of practice developed by industry and registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). For the purpose of classifying films screened on television, the BSA requires that codes of practice apply the film classification system under the Scheme which includes the classification guidelines and classification symbols. This is in the interests of consistency of classification information across cinema films, DVDs and television.

Online content is also regulated via the BSA. If the Office of the eSafety Commissioner receives a valid complaint about Australian hosted online content, or discovers potential prohibited content on its own initiative, it may, and in some cases must, submit the material to the Classification Board for classification. The Commissioner then takes appropriate action in respect of online content.

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Corporate overview

Legislative governance structures

The Classification Board

The Classification Board is an independent statutory body consisting of the Director, Deputy Director and other members.

The Classification Board classifies films, computer games and certain publications. The Classification Board also classifies online content on application.

The Director

The Director of the Classification Board has a range of statutory functions under the Classification Act which include:

  • managing the administrative affairs of the Classification Board
  • convening and presiding at Classification Board meetings
  • determining the constitution of the Classification Board for classifying particular products
  • determining how decisions are recorded
  • arranging the business of the Classification Board
  • calling in publications, films and computer games for classification
  • determining procedures for the Classification Board, and
  • providing the Minister with the Classification Board's Annual Report.

In addition to the Director's powers in relation to the Classification Board, the Classification Act confers a number of additional functions and powers on the Director, which include:

  • approving forms for the purpose of the Classification Act
  • providing certificates and notice of decisions, including evidentiary certificates, and
  • authorising industry assessors.

The Director and Deputy Director of the Classification Board are authorised to grant permission to import or export prohibited or potentially prohibited goods in accordance with the Prohibited Imports Regulations and Prohibited Exports Regulations.

The Classification Review Board

The Classification Review Board is an independent statutory body established to review decisions of the Classification Board.

Click here for more information on the Classification Review Board.

The Convenor

The Convenor of the Classification Review Board has a range of statutory functions under the Classification Act which include:

  • managing the administrative affairs of the Classification Review Board
  • determining the constitution of panels of the Classification Review Board to review decisions
  • determining how decisions are recorded
  • arranging the business of the Classification Review Board, and
  • providing the Minister with the Classification Review Board's Annual Report.

In addition to the Convenor's powers in relation to the Classification Review Board, the Classification Act confers a number of additional functions and powers which include:

  • approving forms for the purpose of the Classification Act, and
  • providing certificates and notices of decisions, including evidentiary certificates.

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Administrative arrangements

The Department of Communications and the Arts (the department) is responsible for the financial management of the operations of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board.

The Classification Branch of the department is co-located with the Classification Board and Classification Review Board in Sydney. The Classification Branch undertakes the following functions:

  • providing policy and operational advice on classification issues to the ministers with classification responsibilities
  • providing secretariat services to the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board, and
  • providing classification education and training for industry and government bodies.

Meetings

The Classification Board has meetings, generally weekly, to discuss classification decisions and other procedural issues.

Regular meetings also take place between the Director and the Deputy Director to ensure the day-to-day running of the Classification Board is efficient and its decisions comply with all relevant legislation.

The Classification Review Board is a part-time board and convenes only to deal with applications for review.

Effective liaison with the Department of Communications and the Arts

The Classification Board and Classification Review Board maintain effective liaison with the department, through both formal and informal meetings and contacts.

Effective liaison with Commonwealth, state and territory ministers and officials with responsibility for classification, industry and the community

The Classification Board maintains effective liaison arrangements with ministers and officials with responsibility for classification, as well as peak industry body representatives and other classification stakeholders. The Classification Board provides information about decisions to interested parties as well as advice to industry assessors to promote professional development on classification issues.

The Classification Review Board provides information to interested parties.

Financial management, accountability and reporting

Classification is carried out largely on a cost recovery basis with fees for classification set in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005. Fees for the review of a decision are based on partial cost recovery to enable access to reviews of a classification decision, while discouraging vexatious or frivolous claims. Revenue from classification fees for 2016–17 is $4,293,560.

Costs and revenue for classification are included in the department's Annual Report 2016–17. The report is available at www.communications.gov.au.

The Director of the Classification Board and the Convenor of the Classification Review Board are required to report to the Minister on management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board in accordance with section 67 and section 85 of the Classification Act respectively.

Risk management

Management of risk is undertaken in accordance with the department's risk management framework and fraud control plan and procedures.

Website

The Australian Classification website address is www.classification.gov.au. Information is tailored to user groups such as the public, industry and law enforcement. Information on the National Classification Database (NCD) incorporates classification and consumer advice in the search results, including a classification matrix which shows the strength of all the classifiable elements.

In the reporting year, there have been 438,930 visits to the website. The number of visits to the website indicates that it is a well-accepted resource that continues to provide important information on classification to industry and the general public.

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Establishment and maintenance of appropriate ethical standards

Ethical standards

The Classification Act provides that full-time members of the Classification Board must not engage in outside employment without the consent of the Minister. The Minister has delegated the authority to approve secondary employment to the Director of the Classification Board. This requirement does not apply to service in the Australian Defence Force.

The Classification Board has a code of conduct for members.

The Classification Act makes provision for the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest by members of both Boards.

External accountability

The Classification Board and Classification Review Board work within an accountability framework which includes parliamentary scrutiny, the Crimes Act 1914, the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Privacy Act 1988 and the Ombudsman Act 1976.

An application may be made to the Classification Review Board to review a decision of the Classification Board (see Review Board section here).

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Membership

Appointments to the Classification Board and Classification Review Board are made by the Governor-General. It is the responsibility of the Minister to make recommendations to the Governor-General regarding appointments. Before making such recommendations, the Classification Act requires that the Minister consult with state and territory ministers with responsibility for classification about the proposed recommendations. Appointments are made for fixed terms of up to five years and members are eligible for reappointment to a statutory maximum of seven years.

Under section 50 of the Classification Act, the Minister may appoint temporary members of the Classification Board if it is necessary to do so for the efficient dispatch of the Classification Board's business. The Minister has authorised the Director to perform this function.

Sections 66 and 84 provide that the Minister may appoint a person to act as a member during a vacancy in the Classification Board and Classification Review Board respectively.

Conditions

The Remuneration Tribunal determines the entitlements of Classification Board and Classification Review Board members in relation to remuneration, annual leave and official travel. These determinations are available on the Remuneration Tribunal website at www.remtribunal.gov.au.

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Freedom of Information

In accordance with section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), this section of the report contains information about FOI procedures and access to documents.

No requests were received for access to Classification Board or Classification Review Board documents under the FOI Act during the reporting period.

Applicants seeking access to documents under the FOI Act should contact:

The FOI Officer
Department of Communications and the Arts
GPO Box 2154
CANBERRA ACT 2601
foi@communications.gov.au

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Categories of documents

The following categories of documents are maintained by the department on behalf of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board:

  • applications under the Classification Act, and
  • documents relating to decisions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board.

Reasons for decisions of the Classification Review Board are available on the Classification website at www.classification.gov.au.

The following categories of documents are publicly available on the Classification website:

  • the Classification Act
  • the Code
  • the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications, Guidelines for the Classification of Films, and Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games
  • the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005
  • the Determinations, Principles and other instruments made under the Classification Act
  • Annual Reports, and
  • application forms for classification and review.

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Privacy

The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) in the Privacy Act 1988 set out the requirements for agencies in handling personal information. The relevant privacy policy is at www.classification.gov.au. It outlines how responsibilities in relation to records containing personal information held by the department in administratively supporting the work of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board are met. For more information please contact the Classification Branch:

The Classification Branch
Locked Bag 3
HAYMARKET NSW 1240

Telephone: 02 9289 7100

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Reports by the Auditor-General

There were no reports on the operation of the Classification Board or the Classification Review Board by the Auditor-General in the reporting period.

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Changes to the National Classification Scheme

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Markings and Consumer Advice) Amendment Determination 2017 commenced operation on 2 February 2017. It provides that industry does not need to display consumer advice in trailers on a screen, if industry is incapable of adding it.

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Commonwealth Ombudsman

No matters involving the Classification Board or the Classification Review Board were dealt with by the Commonwealth Ombudsman during 2016–17.

Classification Board Annual Report 2016–17

Acting Director's letter of transmittal

Australian Government – Classification Board

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP
Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with subsection 67(1) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, I am pleased to submit a report on the management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Board for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

Yours sincerely


Margaret Anderson
Acting Director

September 2017

Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au

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Director's overview

Director's overview

Classification Board Director – Lesley O'Brien

Multi-channel, multi-platform on-demand viewing has opened our eyes as consumers to a dazzling array of possibilities, with our entertainment options stretching out beyond the horizon. But with that has come challenges, not the least of which has been regulation. How does regulation fit into this brave new world? Does it fit? Do we need it? If we do, how much, when, where, by whom and how, and, not insignificantly, who should pay for it?

When classification was last reformed substantially some 20 years ago, a film was something you watched at the cinema or at home on TV, video or DVD, and a computer game was something you bought in a box at a bricks-and-mortar shop. How content has been defined has traditionally been inextricably linked to a particular viewing platform, and it is this which has largely determined how it has been regulated. Different platform, different regulations. But that was then. So what is now? The truth is, no one quite knows. What is television? Is streaming or subscription video on demand content or internet content viewed on a television screen "television"? What about catch-up television viewed on a computer screen, mobile device or gaming console? What about film content that incorporates computer gaming? And what is the difference between an "app" (which does not need to be classified) and a computer game on a mobile device (which does)? Without doubt the differences are diminishing, if they remain at all. How does classification fit into this entertainment landscape?

To help inform the answer, the Classification Branch has been conducting a range of research into classification matters, community standards and expectations. Most recently, in 2016, the Classification Branch conducted a study on classification usage and attitudes towards the classification system. The study included focus groups and a large survey of parents and other community members. It explored the role of classification in informing parents, carers and other consumers, and protecting young people from harmful content, alternative strategies for seeking information and protecting children from potentially harmful content, usage patterns for classification information, views on the usefulness and reliability of classification information and overall perceptions of the classification system.

Key findings included that parents and carers of primary school children are the most engaged and regular users of classification. Generally, parents were more confident about their children using content that carried some form of age-based classification than content that carried no such information, and two-thirds of community members thought ratings by the Classification Board were "about right" overall. Most parents supported the idea of enhanced age guidance being given in classification and more detail in consumer advice, as well as ongoing restriction of the MA 15+ category. Most said they would continue using classification in the future.

This research has also helped inform the Board on evolving community standards. Over the reporting period, the Board has developed additional consumer advices to help inform the viewing public of impactful content of concern about, for example, bullying, suicide and violence against women. This continual evolution of Board standards and decision making is a key element in providing contemporary, relevant information to the Australian public to support their viewing choices.

The Board has continued to represent Australian community standards in a content environment that is experiencing a diversification in viewer habits and a domestic market evolving to meet a globalised market place. The first stages of regulatory reform are assisting with this process. During 2016–17 the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) classification tool commenced full operations, classifying mobile and online computer games electronically. A pilot also commenced during December 2016 in relation to the Netflix tool to produce Australian classifications and consumer advice for films and television series available online in Australia via Netflix. The Board is integrally involved in the audit processes around such tools, which will assist in delivering the best outcomes possible during these periods of trial and learning. I commend the Board for its role in ensuring the effective operation of new and innovative solutions to managing such large volumes of digital entertainment content and delivering quality classification information.

In terms of the Board's workload, applications for classification of publications, films and computer games by the Board have been comparable with the 2015–16 period in contrast to a trend of decreasing applications received over the 2010–15 period. During the reporting period the Board made 3,560 decisions, all within the statutory timeframe of 20 days (or five days for priority applications) and I commend the Board on this outcome.

Since classifying its first virtual reality computer game on 21 July 2016, the Board has classified in excess of 30 virtual reality computer games and is also following developments in augmented reality technologies.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Markings and Consumer Advice) Amendment Determination 2017 that commenced on 2 February 2017, made amendments to provide certainty to industry that consumer advice does not need to be displayed on trailers on a screen if industry is incapable of adding it. I welcomed this as a practical change which ensured that a compliance burden was not added to the cinema industry. Cinema trailers will continue to display the classification, and cinemas can provide consumer advice online, at the point of sale and in foyers.

Discussion with cinemas commenced on considerations relating to providing consumer advice online and on tickets. With the public increasingly turning to online devices and other digital sources for on-demand access to information, I consider these discussions with industry to be important steps to provide classification advice when and where it is expected.

During the reporting period, Board members attended various industry and community events and took part in stakeholder engagement. This included attending the Australian Council on Children and the Media's (ACCM) "Violence in the media: the stories and the science", on the social impacts of media violence and media reporting on violence. In September 2016, Deputy Director Margaret Anderson presented on classification matters at the Film and TV Law Seminar: "Doing Business in the Digital Era". In May 2017, I attended the Australian Communication and Media Authority's (ACMA) "Australian content conversation", which explored themes including the importance of Australian content, the diversity of local voices and the regulatory challenges and opportunities in a world where citizens expect access to the content they want, when they want it.

I also took part in stakeholder engagement on the evaluation of the IARC pilot, with representatives from such organisations as the ACMA, Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), the ACCM, the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification, Nintendo Australia and Microsoft Australia. In June 2017, the Deputy Director and I met with UK counterparts, David Austin, the Chief Executive of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and David Barrett, the BBFC's Chief Operating Officer, for meaningful and informative discussions on some of the innovative classification solutions the BBFC is employing in the era of SVOD and user-generated content, as well as school-based training and education programs and emerging new technologies in film and computer gaming.

I would like to thank all Board members, including temporary Board members who assist the full-time Board during periods of peak workload, for their hard work, diligence and commitment during this reporting period. I would also like to acknowledge the work and support provided to the Board by the staff of the Classification Branch and the Department of Communications and the Arts. The commitment and high level support is greatly appreciated.

Finally, as I close out my term as Director of the Classification Board, I'd like to take this opportunity to say how much I have enjoyed my time in the role, serving the community in a period of immense change, and I trust I have contributed meaningfully to oversight of classification regulation in Australia.

Lesley O'Brien
Director
Classification Board

The Classification Board

Back: Left to right – Ms Ellenor Nixon, Mr Thomas Mann, Ms Alison Bickerstaff, Mr Jarrah Rushton.

Front: Left to right – Ms Margaret Anderson (Deputy Director), Ms Lesley O'Brien (Director), Mr Ron Delezio.

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Classification Board profiles

Current Board members

Classification Board Director – Lesley O'Brien

Lesley O'Brien

Director
APPOINTED 1 January 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 30 June 2017

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 31 January 2011

Ms Lesley O'Brien, 50, was appointed Director of the Classification Board in January 2013. Prior to this, Ms O'Brien 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 food magazine. Ms O'Brien, who holds a Bachelor of Economics, has also worked in communications roles in the NSW public service.

Ms O'Brien is a keen participant at her local tennis club, has a daughter at university and an 18-year-old step-son.

Classification Board Deputy Director – Margaret Anderson

Margaret Anderson

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 25 July 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 24 July 2020

Ms Margaret Anderson, 51, is Deputy Director of the Classification Board.

Before her appointment, she completed an engagement in the Northern Territory working with Indigenous people, government agencies and non-government organisations to enhance services and personal development opportunities for disenfranchised youth and adult prisoners.

From 1995 to 2011, Ms Anderson held several positions with the NSW Department of Corrective Services including Director, Corporate Legislation and Parliamentary Support, as well as 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 oversaw the case management plans of the state's most serious adult criminals.

Ms Anderson has held various positions with the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, the Cabinet Office and the NSW Legislature. Ms Anderson is also a 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.

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 aqua aerobics.

Classification Board Member – Alison Bickerstaff

Alison Bickerstaff

Board member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2019

Ms Alison Bickerstaff, 37, grew up in Sydney and prior to her appointment to the Classification Board in 2014 was the proprietor of several hairdressing salons.

Ms Bickerstaff is a hairdresser by trade, and has experience as both an employee and proprietor.

Ms Bickerstaff has a young family and has been involved in her local community through her children's school and sporting commitments. She has also managed her son's junior rugby league team.

Ms Bickerstaff is passionate about the environment and wildlife conservation. Her interests include rugby league, horse riding, film and spending time with her family. She also enjoys listening to a variety of music genres.

Classification Board Member – Ron Delezio

Ron Delezio

Board member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2018

Mr Ron Delezio, 64, previously self-employed, has worked as a public speaker, was the founder of the charity, Day of Difference Foundation, and the regional chair for the charity Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC) from 2015 to 2016. 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.

The Day of Difference Foundation delivers funding to children's hospitals for medical equipment, research and training, and therapists to children's hospitals all over Australia and New Zealand. The foundation now works with the University of Sydney conducting crucial research into improving the way hospitals work with families. Ron was awarded the 2006 Australian Father of the Year and New South Wales Citizen of the Year. He has also been a Swans AFL team Ambassador, World Youth Day Ambassador and Australia Day Ambassador.

Classification Board Member – Jarrah Rushton

Jarrah Rushton

Board member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2020

Mr Jarrah Rushton, 41, holds a Bachelor of Psychology and relocated from Western Australia to take up his position with the Board.

Mr Rushton has been involved in skateboarding for over 27 years as a participant, and as a volunteer for state and then federal skate associations for almost 20 years. He has concurrently worked in the skate industry, first in retail, then as a coach, as well as an event organiser and portfolio manager at a youth facility, co-founding a skate brand and managing various aspects of a wholesale and representative agency business.

His other interests include music, art, computer games, snowboarding, reading and supporting the Fremantle Dockers AFL team.

Classification Board Member – Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann

Board member
APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 May 2019

Mr Thomas Mann, 35*, is a teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English Literature, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Editing and Communications. Mr Mann relocated from Footscray, Victoria, to take up his position with the Board.

He has a background in editing for a variety of business media and was an editor for an online music website prior to his appointment. Through his work and personal interests, Mr Mann had an extensive involvement with the online community.

His local community involvement included support to the migrant community in Footscray as a volunteer English tutor and work with Melbourne's student community as a volunteer with the youth focussed radio station SYN FM. Mr Mann has three children.

* Age incorrectly recorded in last year's Annual Report.

Classification Board Member – Ellenor Nixon

Ellenor Nixon

APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 May 2019

Ms Ellenor Nixon, 26, holds a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science and relocated from Merriwa, NSW, to take up her position with the Board.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Nixon was the assistant manager on her family's mixed farming property. She has been actively involved in the community through her work with the local rural fire brigade, landcare events, agricultural shows and charities as well as competing in local sporting competitions. Ellenor is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture.

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Temporary Board members

Under the Classification Act, the Minister has authorised 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 - Emma Ashton

Emma Ashton

Ms Emma Ashton is a 47-year-old mother of two young children who currently lives in Sydney. She grew up in the country and 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.

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 of people discussing a wide range of issues from all over Australia.

Ms Ashton worked 58 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Jenny Burke

Jenny Burke

Ms Jenny Burke, 35,* resides in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, and has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Organisational Behaviour.

She works as a freelance market research contractor, and has worked as a research consultant for numerous social research firms and the Australia Council for the Arts. Ms Burke is a mother to two young boys and is actively involved in the local community. She particularly enjoys volunteering in a leadership role at a local playgroup.

Ms Burke worked 4 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

* Age incorrectly recorded in last year's Annual Report.

Temporary Board Member – Penny Colvin

Penny Colvin

Ms Penny Colvin is 57 years old and lives in the southern suburbs of Sydney. She has a post graduate Certificate in Human Resources and a Human Resources Management Certificate.

Ms Colvin is a HR professional with more than 20 years' experience shared across the financial, government and not-for-profit sectors, including disability services and aged care. Her community work involves working and volunteering in a variety of areas within the disability and aged care sectors. Ms Colvin also has a passion for hiking and travelling.

Ms Colvin worked 9 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Andrew Humphreys

Andrew Humphreys

Mr Andrew Humphreys is 47 and lives in Sydney with his family. He is a writer and novelist with a background in publishing, having written for, edited and published a range of consumer magazines.

Mr Humphreys has degrees in Arts and Law and has also taught undergraduate and postgraduate media courses.

Mr Humphreys worked 103 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Jenny Fowler

Jenny Fowler

Ms Jenny Fowler, 52, resides in the southern suburbs of Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Education, Primary.

Ms Fowler currently works as a Youth Justice Conference Convenor, and has also worked as a primary school teacher and as an "extra" in film and television. Ms Fowler has a 22-year-old son and an 19-year-old daughter. She has maintained a high level of community involvement through her children's school and sport and in her local surf lifesaving club. Her other interests include travel, sport and keeping fit.

Ms Fowler worked 39 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Felix Hubble

Felix Hubble

Mr Felix Hubble is 25 years old and lives in the inner west of Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Film Studies) (Digital Cultures) (Hons.). Mr Hubble currently works as head projectionist at an independent cinema and he has previously worked for an online film journal as a sub-editor and writer.

Mr Hubble worked 59 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Wayne Garrett

Wayne Garrett

Dr Wayne Garrett, 63, holds a B.Sc.(Hons) and a Ph.D. in Radiation Chemistry. He was a principal research scientist at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), was Head of the Nuclear Branch representing the interests of both ANSTO and 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. 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.

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

Dr Garrett worked 78 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Greg Randall

Greg Randall

Mr Greg Randall, 56, has 35 years' experience in policing and criminal investigation within the NSW 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 being selected to participate 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 47 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Damien Carr

Damien Carr

Mr Damien Carr, 29, resides in the inner western suburbs of Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts, and also holds a Diploma of Screen and Media. He is continuing his studies towards an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting) at Actors Centre Australia.

Mr Carr worked 22 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Alan Miller

Alan Miller

Mr Alan Miller is 57* years old and lives in the inner west of Sydney with his wife and teenage daughter. He is a self-employed sole trader in a business with an emphasis on stock and commodity trading, communications, education and training, transport and tourism.

Mr Miller has also worked as a lecturer in Television Production and Broadcast Operations at the Institute of Indigenous Studies in the Northern Territory and held various other roles as an adult educator.

Mr Miller worked 12 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Michael Leske

Michael Leske

Mr Michael Leske, 45,* resides in northern Sydney. He has an Associate Diploma in Advertising and Graphic Design.

Mr Leske has worked in a variety of roles with media and entertainment related organisations including program classification, television design and production. Mr Leske is the parent of two infant children and has been involved in local community activities associated with their care. His interests include computer gaming, table tennis and bushwalking.

Mr Leske worked 15 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Adam Hennessy

Adam Hennessy

Mr Adam Hennessy is 42* years old and lives in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts (History) and a Master of Policy and Applied Social Research. Mr Hennessy also holds an Advanced Diploma of Police Management and a Diploma of Policing from NSW Police where he served for 13 years.

He has had further community involvement through his roles as a child protection caseworker for NSW Family and Community Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. He also undertook the production of a monthly publication of local issues, events and social topics of interest within his community in western Sydney. Mr Hennessy is a father of three children.

Mr Hennessy worked 50 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Mathew MacMaster

Mathew MacMaster

Mr Matt MacMaster is 36* years old and lives in the inner west of Sydney.

He has completed a short course of study in Screen Writing and Directing at NIDA, is a music critic/blogger and works at a successful independent denim specialist in the inner west.

Mr MacMaster worked 29 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

* Ages incorrectly recorded in last year's Annual Report.

Temporary Board Member – Lora Pechovska

Lora Pechovska

Ms Lora Pechovska is 29 years old and lives in the north-western suburbs of Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Humanities) (Hons.), a Bachelor of Arts (English Hons.) and a Diploma in Digital and Interactive Games (Art).

Her community involvement includes working in educational environments such as teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), tutoring refugees and teaching English overseas. She currently works as a private English tutor and a retail assistant for a fashion retailer.

Ms Pechovska worked 23 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Leanne Wilson-O'Connor

Leanne Wilson-O'Connor

Ms Leanne Wilson-O'Connor, 43, works in the television industry, and previously worked for over 11 years as an Aboriginal education officer at a charitable institution which provides 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 both the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and her local Aboriginal Land Council.

Ms Wilson-O'Connor worked 52 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

Temporary Board Member – Raphael Richards

Raphael Richards

Raphael Richards, 41, resides in the inner eastern suburbs of Sydney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary & Secondary). He has worked in the travel publishing industry and education sector for over a decade and has previously served as a board member for the Smartraveller program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Raphael is actively involved in his child's school community and sports programs.

Mr Richards worked 33 days as a temporary Board member during 2016–17.

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Board members who left the Classification Board in 2016–17

Lesley O'Brien

Director
APPOINTED 1 January 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 30 June 2017

Classification Board Members – Ellenor Nixon, Margaret Anderson, Thomas Mann, Alison Bickerstaff, Jarrah Rushton, Lesley O'Brien, Ron Delezio

Statistics

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

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Key achievements

  • The Classification Board made 3,560 classification decisions in 2016–17, including 3,536 commercial classification decisions, four classification decisions on internet content referred by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, and 20 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.

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Timeliness of decisions

In 2016–17, all decisions on commercial classification applications were made within the statutory time limits. A breakdown of these figures follows:

Table 01: Timeliness of classification decisions by application type
Application type No. of decisions made within statutory time limits
Film (public exhibition) 551
Film (sale/hire) 1,614
Film (sale/hire) – ACA 231
Film (sale/hire) – ATSA 600
Computer games 498
Publications (including serial declarations) 42
Total 3,536
% of total 100

Classification Board workload

In 2016–17, the Classification Board made 3,560 classification decisions. The Classification 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) 551
Film (sale/hire) 1,614
Film (sale/hire) – ACA 231
Film (sale/hire) – ATSA 600
Computer games 498
Publications 36
Serial publication declarations 6
Internet content 4
Enforcement 20
Other decisions
Advertising assessment of likely classification – film 41
Advertising assessment of likely classification – computer games 0
Section 87 Certificates – Classification Act 8*
Film festival exemptions 0**
Conditional cultural exemptions (section 6H – Classification Act) 6
Call ins 0
Revocation of classification 2
Decline to deal 2
Total 3,619

* A section 87 certificate is an evidentary 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.

** Amendments to the Classification Act took effect on 11 September 2015 that allow event organisers to self-assess their eligibility for an exemption using the online classification portal. A total of 580 Film Festival Events registered for exemption in 2016–17.

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Comparison with last year's workload

Compared with the 2015–16 reporting period, the number of classification decisions:

  • decreased from 3,777 to 3,560 (a decrease of six percent)
  • decreased in all application categories except for public exhibition which increased from 522 to 551 (an increase of six percent), computer games from 477 to 498 (an increase of four percent), and ACA scheme applications which increased from 230 to 231 (an increase of 0.4 percent), and
  • decreased in standard classification decisions made for film (sale/hire) from 1,768 to 1,614 (a decrease of nine percent), ATSA scheme applications which decreased from 636 to 600 (a decrease of six percent), and publications/serial publication declarations from 85 to 42 (a decrease of 51 percent).

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

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Publications

The Classification Board made 42 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 36 single issue publication classifications and six serial declarations.

Table 03: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
Unrestricted 14
Category 1 restricted 21
Category 2 restricted 1
RC 0
Total 36
Table 04: Commercial (single issue) publications Refused Classification (RC) by reason

1 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the Code (see Appendix).

Reason1 Number
Publications RC 1(a) 0
Publications RC 1(b) 0
Publications RC 1(c) 0
Publications RC 1(a) & 1(b) 0
Total 0

As indicated in Figure 01, 58 percent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 – restricted, three percent were Category 2 – restricted and 39 percent were Unrestricted. No publications were Refused Classification (RC).

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions

Figure 01 – Pie Chart – Publication classification decisions
Unrestricted – 39%, Category 1 restricted – 58%, Category 2 restricted – 3%

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Serial classification declarations for publications

The Classification Act provides that the Classification Board may declare that the classification granted for an original issue applies to future issues of a publication for a specified period or number of issues. The Classification Board must have regard to the Classification (Serial Publications) Principles 2005 in deciding whether to grant a serial classification declaration.

Table 05: Serial classification declarations granted by classification
Classification Declarations granted
Unrestricted 2
Category 1 restricted 3
Category 2 restricted 0
RC 0
Total 5

The Classification Board refused one serial classification declaration in 2016–17.

The Classification Board audits publications granted a serial classification declaration. In 2016–17, the Board did not conduct any serial classification audits.

As indicated in Figure 02, 50 percent of all serial classification applications for declarations resulted in Category 1 restricted publications, 33 percent were Unrestricted publications and 17 percent were Refused Classification (RC).

Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations

Figure 02 – Pie Chart – Serial publication classification declarations
Unrestricted – 33%, Category 1 restricted – 50%, Refused Classification 17%

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Films classified for public exhibition

The Classification Board made 551 decisions on applications for the classification of commercial films for public exhibition.

Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition
Classification Classification decisions
G 20
PG 114
M 275
MA 15+ 134
R 18+ 8
X 18+ 0
RC 0
Total 551

As indicated in Figure 03, 75 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 – 4%, PG – 21%, M – 50%, MA 15+ – 24%, R18 + – 1%

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Films classified for sale/hire

The Classification Board made 2,445 decisions on applications for classification of commercial films for sale/hire. These figures include applications made under the ACA and ATSA schemes.

Table 07: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire
Classification Classification decisions
G 320
PG 518
M 971
MA 15+ 578
R 18+ 58
X 18+ 0
RC 0
Total 2,445
Table 08: Commercial films classified for sale/hire Refused Classification (RC) by reason

2 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the Code (see Appendix).

Reason2 Number
Films RC 1(a) 0
Films RC 1(b) 0
Films RC 1(c) 0
Films RC 1(a) & 1(b) 0
Total 0

As indicated in Figure 04, approximately 74 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.

No films for commercial sale/hire in the reporting period were Refused Classification (RC).

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 – 13%, PG – 21%, M – 40%, MA 15+ – 24%, R 18+ – 2%

Under the ACA Scheme, applications that comprise previously classified or exempt films 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 also be accompanied by a report from an authorised assessor including a recommended classification and consumer advice. Applications submitted under the scheme attract a lower fee.

Under both schemes, the Classification Board is still responsible for the classification of the film, but its decision may be informed by the assessor's report and classification recommendation.

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Computer games

The Classification Board made 498 decisions on applications for computer games. The figures include applications made under the Authorised Assessor Computer Games Scheme (AACG). Under this scheme, authorised assessors can make a recommendation about classification and consumer advice.

The Classification Board is still responsible for the classification of the game, but its decision may be informed by the assessor's report and classification recommendation.

Table 09: Commercial computer games decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
G 128
PG 152
M 139
MA 15+ 59
R 18+ 18
RC 2
Total 498

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 PG category.

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

Figure 05: Computer game classification decisions (including AACG)

Figure 05 – Pie Chart - Computer game classification decisions
G – 26%, PG – 30%, M – 26%, MA 15+ – 11%, R 18+ – 3%, RC – 0.4%

Table 10: Commercial computer game applications Refused Classification (RC) by reason

3 The reason for refusing a computer game classification refers to the relevant item of the Code (see Appendix).

Reason3 Number
Games RC 1(a) 2
Games RC 1(b) 0
Games RC 1(c) 0
Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b) 0
Total 2

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Decisions of approved classification tools – section 22CF of the Classification Act

In 2014, the Australian Parliament amended the Classification Act to implement a select number of changes based on recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in its review of the National Classification Scheme. Division 2AA was inserted into the Classification Act (sections 22CA–22CJ).

Part of the amendments included the enabling of certain content to be classified by "classification tools", approved by the Minister. The Minister must not approve a tool unless it will produce an Australian classification for the relevant material, determine consumer advice and notify the decision and consumer advice to the Director of the Classification Board.

Decisions made by tools are deemed to be decisions of the Classification Board. The amendments included a discretion given to the Classification Board to revoke a classification decision produced by an approved classification tool if the Board is of the opinion that it would have given the material a different classification or assigned different consumer advice. The Board may revoke a classification decision on its own initiative or on application.

During the reporting period, two classification tools were able to be used to generate classification decisions pursuant to subsection 22CA(1) of the Classification Act: the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) rating and age classification system for digitally delivered games and apps; and the Netflix classification tool. The IARC tool was approved for permanent use with effect from 1 January 2017 and a total of 337,555 decisions were recorded on the National Classification Database. On 5 December 2016, the Minister launched a 12-month pilot of the Netflix classification tool. An audit program commenced to test the tool's accuracy and an evaluation will be provided to government at the conclusion of the pilot. From 5 December 2016 to 30 June 2017, the Netflix tool produced 1,014 decisions which are recorded on the National Classification Database.

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Other decisions

There is general information about exemptions in the overview of the National Classification Scheme here.

On 11 September 2015, amendments to the Classification Act took effect that streamline and simplify the classification exemption arrangements for special events like film festivals and computer games expos, and for cultural institutions such as art galleries and museums, wishing to exhibit unclassified films, computer games and publications.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules) Instrument 2015 (the CCE Rules), which provides further details on the exemptions, also took effect on this date.

Event organisers are no longer required to apply to the Director of the Classification Board for an exemption from the usual classification requirements. Rather, they are able to self-assess their eligibility for an exemption.

  • For an exemption to apply, events that wholly or mainly involve the showing of films, computer games or publications, such as a film festival or a computer game expo, must be registered on the online classification portal.
  • Approved cultural institutions are not required to register their events. However, event organisers must use assessors who have been trained by the Classification Branch, to assess the unclassified material for the exemption to apply.

580 festival events were registered with the classification portal in 2016–17.

Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules – section 6H of the Classification Act

The CCE Rules prescribe matters allowed for by Division 2 of Part 1A of the Classification Act. This Division established a consolidated set of rules which replaced the inconsistent provisions across each state and territory's classification enforcement legislation and introduced streamlined and simplified exemption arrangements for festivals, events and cultural institutions.

There is some discretionary flexibility under the CCE Rules, as section 6H of the Classification Act enables organisations to apply to the Director of the Classification Board for exemption from, or variation to, any or all provisions of Division 2 of Part 1A of the Act or the Instrument. Subsections 6H(1) to (4) of the Classification Act provide that an applicant may seek an exemption or declaration in relation to an organisation which may relate to several events, or in relation to a particular film, computer game or publication, or a single event.

A common type of application under subsection 6(1) of the CCE Rules is for an organisation to seek a variation from the requirement that films screened as part of a registered event may each be screened no more than four times per state or territory. The Director will generally not grant an exemption from the CCE Rules unless there is one or more compelling reasons to do so. This is because the Code provides that content should generally be classified before it is "published" (including sold or exhibited) in Australia. The Code then has to be balanced with the CCE Rules which are intended to facilitate the exhibition of culturally important, unique and diverse unclassified material to audiences who may not otherwise be able to access the material. During the reporting period six decisions pursuant to section 6H were made by the Director.

Advertising approvals

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" which provides that 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 41 assessments of the likely classification of films and nil assessments of the likely classification of a computer game.

Revocations

No publication had their serial classification declaration revoked under subsection 13(5) of the Classification Act during this reporting period.

Call ins

Under the Classification Act, the Director may call in an unclassified film or computer game, a submittable publication or certain advertisements.

No call in notices were issued during this reporting period.

Enforcement agencies

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

There were 20 classification decisions for enforcement applications made in the reporting period – four for publications and 16 for films (sale/hire). Eight section 87 certificates were issued. Such certificates describe the action taken, or not taken, by the Classification Board in relation to a publication, film or computer game.

There were no enforcement applications for computer games in 2016–17.

Table 11: Enforcement application decisions by agency

4 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.

Enforcement agency Publications Films Section 87 certificates4 Total
Australian Federal Police 0 0 0 0
ACT Office of Fair Trading 0 0 0 0
NSW Police 2 16 8 26
NT Police 0 0 0 0
Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading 2 0 0 2
Victoria Police 0 0 0 0
SA Police 0 0 0 0
Tasmania Police 0 0 0 0
WA Police 0 0 0 0
Department of Immigration and Border Protection 0 0 0 0
Total 4 16 8 28

Internet content

Under Schedule 7 of the BSA the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from both the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the ACMA. Internet content is shown in tables 12 and 13.

Table 12: Internet content decisions by classification
Classification Classification decisions
G 0
PG 0
M 0
MA 15+ 1
R 18+ 0
X 18+ 0
RC 3
Unrestricted 0
Total 4
Table 13: Internet content Refused Classification (RC) by reason

5 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the Code (see Appendix).

Reason5 Number
Film RC 1(a) 0
Film RC 1(b) 0
Film RC 1(c) 0
Film RC 1(a) & 1(b) 2
Film RC 1(a) & 1(c) 0
S 9A 1
Total 3

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Decisions

Films

Decisions for films were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Films 2012 (the Guidelines).

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

The Board's general practice when providing consumer advice is to indicate the strongest classifiable element or elements contained in the film which caused it to receive the designated classification level. The consumer advice is usually preceded by a descriptor to indicate impact or intensity, with this descriptor generally corresponding with the hierarchy of impact stated in the Guidelines.

G

Out of the total of 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, 340 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 a child will enjoy all films classified G. Some material that is classified G may be of no interest to a child such as some documentaries or particular music DVDs. Films classified in the reporting period include: Antarctica: On the Edge; Ballerina; Bears; Cars 3; Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force; Ninjago – The Master; Voyage of the Southern Sun; Zumba Slimdown Party.

The Board's indicative position for consumer advice for G-classified films is "general". Walking the Land Together is an Australian documentary film which follows the journey of Paul Ralph, who discusses the Indigenous community organisation, KARI, which he founded with his wife, in 1999. The film includes a number of stories of Aboriginal Australians; one health practitioner relays a positive interaction with a child and its parents, resulting in better parenting and improved outcomes for the family. In the opinion of the Board, consumer advice of "general" was the most appropriate for this film. Similarly, the Turkish documentary Kedi (subtitled in English), about the stray cats that roam the streets of Istanbul and the people who care for them, received consumer advice of "general", despite one instance of coarse language in the form of "butt", in reference to a cat showing up one day "with a hole in its butt" after being in a fight. The Board was of the opinion that this single use of coarse language could be accommodated in consumer advice of "general".

The Secret Life of Pets is a 3D animated film that follows Max and his reluctant friend Duke, who take on a gang of abandoned pets. The feature film was prefaced by an embedded short 3D film, Mower Minions, wherein the minions watch an advertisement for a product they want and so decide to start their own mowing business in an effort to generate income. While blowing the leaves off the grass, one of the minions turns the blower towards another minion, blowing his pants off and revealing his bare bottom. The thematic material in the Pets feature film included some very mild crude humour, such as animals urinating because of excitement, and some scenes which contained a very mild sense of peril or threat, such as when a bus crashed into a van knocking the van across the guard rail, so that it was hanging precariously from a bridge. As the van fell further to the bottom of the river, Snowball called out, "Remember me" and jumped into the water after Max and Duke. Ultimately, the three swim to the surface, climb to the safety of a wharf, and are unhurt. In the Board's opinion, the film's bright and colourful animations, light tone and sense of comedy mitigated the impact of such scenes to the extent that they did not exceed very mild and the film's consumer advice was "very mild sense of threat and some crude humour".

The initial theatrical release of Smurfs The Lost Village was classified G as it contained themes that have a very low sense of threat and menace. It is an animated children's film in which Smurfette and her friends embark on a quest to find a lost village before the evil wizard, Gargamel. In one scene, Gargamel stumbles upon Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy and attempts to catch them. In the course of a pursuit, the egg of a "dragonfly" (a fantastic creature that can breathe fire), ends up in the arms of Clumsy. This causes a large group of dragonflies to pursue the smurfs through the forest, as they dodge their blasts of flame. The smurfs fall down a hole and the group of dragonflies blasts fire into it. Gargamel, who is looking on, comments that the smurfs must be "toast". It is revealed immediately afterwards that the smurfs were deep enough underground to be safe. In the Board's opinion, the bright and colourful nature of the film's animation style, and its generally comedic and upbeat tone, mitigated the impact of the film's thematic content to no higher than very mild in impact. The Board issued consumer advice of "very mild themes, some scenes may scare very young children", owing to the younger age demographic of the film's intended audience. Later modified versions of the film for home viewing were classified PG with consumer advice of "occasional mild coarse language" owing to the inclusion of additional content containing coarse language at a higher impact level than very mild.

Trolls is a 3D animated family film in which two trolls, Poppy and Branch, go on a quest to save Troll Town's population from a group of beasts known as the Bergen. The thematic material in the film included some very mild crude humour, such as references to troll "excretions" and a sequence of very mild crude nudity, when the troll king is speared through his underwear while trying to escape from the Bergen. A group of trolls theorise that he has been captured before he emerges from a cave, implicitly nude. A reverse shot reveals his buttocks as the king says, "No troll left behind!" The film's most impactful content was best described with consumer advice of "very mild crude humour, some scenes may scare very young children".

PG

Out of the total of 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, 632 films were classified PG (Parental Guidance).

Films in this classification contain content that a child may find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of a parent or guardian. Films classified in the reporting period include: A Life of its Own: The Truth about Medical Marijuana; Beauty and the Beast; Chicken People; Dance Academy; Despicable Me 3; Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul; Ghostbusters; McLaren; Moana; Monster Trucks; My Life as a Zucchini; My Pet Dinosaur; Paris Can Wait; Red Dog: True Blue; The Case for Christ; Viceroy' s House.

The most common consumer advice for films in the PG classification is "mild themes", either on its own or married with "coarse language" and/or "violence"; for example, A Dog's Purpose is an American comedy-drama in which a dog, reincarnated through four lifetimes, seeks to discover the purpose of its existence. The film contained themes including family breakdown and crime that had a low sense of threat and menace, and infrequent mild violence. The two elements were, at times, inextricably linked within the narrative of the film. In the Board's opinion, the treatment of themes and violence was mitigated by the film's often comedic tone, with consumer advice of "mild themes" best describing the most impactful content and subsuming the element of violence.

A Monster Calls is the film adaptation of the book of the same title, which was devised by a mother with a terminal illness to assist her young son to come to terms with loss, grief and death. It is a fantasy drama in which 12-year-old Conor comes to terms with the pending loss of his mother to disease, with bullying and violence at school, and with grief and upheaval in his life. Struggling to deal with these issues, Conor has a repetitive nightmare in which he lets his mother slip and fall into an abyss, before he wakes up frightened. Throughout the film, Conor is visited by "The Monster", a giant anthropomorphised Yew tree which tells him stories that relate to his own circumstances. In an extended scene, Conor breaks down in front of the Monster, falling to his knees, crying, "Help me!" The Monster tells him it is time for "his truth, his nightmare, his story". Conor's "truth" is finally revealed and the Monster calmly takes Conor in his hands telling him, "That was brave Conor, you finally said it". The film's consumer advice was "mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare children".

A Street Cat Named Bob is a UK film based on the true story of the friendship between a stray cat and a homeless busker who is a recovering drug addict, and how this friendship turned the young man's life around. The film contains drug use (implied and only a limited number of occurrences) and drug references (predominantly related to getting and staying "clean") which are mild in impact and are justified by context; and also infrequent mild coarse language, such as when James's counsellor tells him, "Silence over bullshit." The impact of the drug references throughout the film are mitigated by the film's consistent message of the dangers of illicit drug misuse. The film's consumer advice was "mild themes of drug addiction and coarse language".

Hampstead is a British romantic comedy film in which a widowed American woman, Emily, befriends Donald, a gruff man who lives on Hampstead Heath in a shack. The film includes mild sexual references such as when Emily visits the grave of her late husband, Charles. She says, "Even to this day, I still can't help thinking about…what could have been going on!…Excuse me…with you and that little whore whose pictures you left in your safety deposit box. The safety deposit box, for god's sake, you idiot! I'm not going to let this go, you sleeping bastard! Did you ever even think about all the shit you left me to shovel up? Oh yes, the bills, the debts, the whole goddamn mess of it all and you make me so mad." The film's consumer advice was "mild sexual references and coarse language".

Hidden Figures is an American biographical dramatic film based on a non-fiction book of the same title, about three African-American women mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson who, while working for NASA during the 1960s, helped calculate flight trajectories for John Glenn to become the first American to orbit space, while they faced both racial and gender discrimination in their effort to forge careers in aerospace engineering. Thematic content primarily focuses on how legally sanctioned segregation laws in Virginia impacted the women's social and working conditions. The film also contains infrequent, mild coarse language in the form of the words "hell" and "bastard". The film's consumer advice was "mild themes and coarse language".

Noor is a Hindi comedic drama (subtitled in English with sporadic spoken English) that follows journalist, Noor, who is unhappy in her day-to-day life, juggling her work, love and personal life. Noor's life takes a dramatic turn when she comes across an eye-opening investigative news story. The film contains a number of classifiable elements which were reflected in its consumer advice, "mild themes, coarse language, sexual references and drug use".

M

The M classification is the largest classification category for films.

Out of the total of 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, 1,246 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 a parent or guardian to make decisions about appropriate entertainment material for their child and to provide adequate supervision.

Films classified in the reporting period include: 20th Century Women; Alone in Berlin; Ben-Hur; Bridget Jones's Baby; Brock; Café Society; Collateral Beauty; Jasper Jones; La Pazza Gioia; Monsieur Chocolat; Patriot's Day; Pork Pie; Sei Mai Stata Sulla Luna?; Sully; The Beatles Eight Days a Week The Touring Years; The Light Between Oceans; The Zookeeper's Wife; Toni Erdmann; Tutankhamun; Una; XXX Return of Xander Cage; Yoga Hosers.

The highest number of theatrical release and home viewing films was in the M-classification category. It is not uncommon for films in this classification category to have many classifiable elements all at a moderate impact level; for example, the American romantic espionage thriller film, Allied. In 1942, Max Vatan, an intelligence officer encounters a female French Resistance fighter, Marianne, while on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. They subsequently marry and their relationship is tested by the pressures of war as questions arise as to the wife's identity and loyalty. The film contains themes of love, deception and survival, trickery and wariness that have a moderate sense of threat and menace, which are inextricably linked through the film's narrative with depictions of violence. Several scenes involve sexual references and activity, including nudity. While Max lies in bed and talks on the telephone, Marianne goes under the top-sheet and implicitly fellates him (her covered head is positioned over his groin) saying, "Don't think I'm going to let you sleep." The scene is mitigated by the use of cropped camera angles and the focus on the couple's faces. The film contains a single instance of drug use by a male officer implicitly snorting a line of cocaine from a plate while at a party. Despite this being the sole instance of drug use, it could not be subsumed into other consumer advice for the film which was, "mature themes, violence, sex, coarse language, nudity and drug use".

Where there is one use of coarse language at the film's classification level and a few instances of other coarse language at a lower classification level, the Board may decide to qualify the consumer advice for coarse language with the word "occasional", such as in the film Denial, in which Deborah Lipstadt, a university professor and author, is sued for libel by David Irving, a self-labelled historical revisionist, after she accuses him of being a holocaust denier. The film included a single use of strong coarse language and contained two uses of the word "shit" and a use of the word "hell". Therefore, the cumulative impact of coarse language exceeded mild in impact and the film received an M classification with consumer advice of "occasional coarse language".

Two high profile theatrical release films aimed at older children and adults, received consumer advice for "fantasy themes": Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which follows the adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school (consumer advice was "fantasy themes and violence"); and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in which Jake, upon the suspicious death of his grandfather, travels to Wales in search of Miss Peregrine's Home (consumer advice was "fantasy themes and violence, some scary scenes").

Ghost in The Shell is a 3D science fiction film, based on the Japanese manga of the same title, which is centred on Major, whose brain has been transferred into a robotic body, a "shell", turning her into an advanced cybernetic soldier. The outer surface of Major's cybernetic body is covered in camouflaging panels which act as "skin". They are designed to be able to mimic the surrounding environment and give the wearer the ability to become invisible. However, throughout the film, in various lighting and environments, the inactive flesh-coloured panels give the appearance that Major is naked, with no nipple or genital detail depicted. The edges of the individual panels are visible at various times, however, this does not mitigate the appearance of the surface as bare flesh. This effect is heightened when Major is depicted wearing underwear while lying on her bed in her apartment, furthering the illusion of previous nakedness. The effect of the flesh-coloured "skin" is stylised nudity and therefore, the film's consumer advice was "science fiction themes, violence and stylised nudity".

The Board includes crude gestures in its consideration of coarse language. Hetalia The World Twinkle (Season 6) is a Japanese anime television series, in which various nations are represented by anthropomorphic anime characters in loose examinations of international politics and history. The film includes several occurrences of a crude gesture in the form of a raised middle finger being thrust into the air. In the Board's opinion, the overall impact of all coarse language within the context of this film, in the form of the crude gestures and spoken words (the latter of which on their own, could have been accommodated at a lower classification level) exceeded mild in impact and the film therefore warranted an M classification with consumer advice of "crude gestures".

Monsieur Mayonnaise is an Australian documentary that follows Phillippe Mora's creation of a graphic novel about his late father, Georges, who was involved in the French Resistance and whose family survived the holocaust. In addition to thematic content, the film contains a scene of nudity (adult female and male child) in a home video. The film's consumer advice was "mature themes and nudity".

Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, from childhood to adulthood and his struggles to find a place in the world, while growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. In addition to violence and coarse language, the film contains themes, including child neglect, as a result of the mother's drug addiction, and bullying. The film's consumer advice was "drug use, coarse language, sex and violence".

Shin Godzilla is a Japanese film, with English subtitles, in which a massive monster emerges from the water and begins wreaking havoc across Japan. The film contains numerous visuals of large-scale destruction as Godzilla causes cityscapes to crumble. Skyscrapers are viewed being knocked over and collapsing, causing clouds of debris, and roads and bridges buckle and break as Godzilla wreaks a path of destruction. These depictions of destruction include depersonalised images of people being implicitly killed as a result of being trapped in crumbling buildings or crushed by falling debris. The film's consumer advice was "disaster themes".

The Mummy is an American supernatural action film, in which the tomb of an Egyptian princess, Ahmanet, is accidentally discovered in Iraq. When awakened, she attempts to complete a ritual to bring about the end of the world. In the opinion of the Board, the comedic moments, which punctuated the extended scenes of pervasive threat in the film, mitigated the thematic content and violence to impart an impact that did not exceed moderate. Therefore, the film was able to be accommodated within the upper limits of the M classification with consumer advice of "supernatural themes, violence and sustained threat" best describing the most impactful content.

The Shallows is an Australian horror thriller film that follows a female surfer, Nancy, who is menaced and attacked by a large shark over a period of two days. Thematic material includes predatory animal behaviour, injury, fear, survival and death. A sense of peril pervades throughout the film, with multiple scenes of a large shark attacking Nancy or other characters. The film's consumer advice was "sense of peril, bloody injury detail and coarse language".

Wonder Woman is an American action film, in which Diana, princess of the Amazons, learns of the massive conflict raging in the outside world and discovers her destiny. The film has several extended sequences of violence, containing the implicit deaths of human characters, but the impact of these scenes is often mitigated by their fantastic nature and general lack of blood and wound detail. When limited blood or wound detail is depicted, it occurs in the form of post-action visuals. The film's consumer advice was "mature themes and action violence".

MA 15+ Restricted

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 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, 712 films were classified MA 15+.

Films classified in the reporting period include: Bad Moms; Bad Santa 2; Decline and Fall; Goat; Elle; Fifty Shades Darker; God's Own Country; I, Daniel Blake; John Wick Chapter 2; Kiki, Love to Love; Life; Nocturnal Animals; Our Kind of Traitor; Panzer Chocolate; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; The Good Karma Hospital; Rough Night; Sausage Party; The Girl on the Train; Train to Busan.

A Few Less Men is an Australian comedy about three friends who experience various unusual hardships in Australia whilst endeavouring to transport their friend's body back to London in time for his funeral. In addition to three utterances of very strong coarse language, the film contains themes and sexual references in the form of frequent crude sexual humour which is at the upper limit of the M classification, so therefore, consumer advice for "crude sexual humour" was provided in addition to that of "strong coarse language".

Baywatch is an American comedic film focused on a group of lifesavers as they fight to take down a local drug ring. The film contains strong impact nudity and includes a scene examining a dead body at the morgue. Mitch pulls up the sheet covering the body, exposing the man's penis and testicles and tells Matt to, "Check his taint for needle marks." Matt lifts the deceased's testicles and penis up briefly. Mitch implores him to look harder. Matt pulls back the penis and testicles and tries to look underneath. Mitch says, "Get deeper, lift the balls higher, get closer." As Matt is examining the area, Mitch, smiling, is taking photos on his phone and tells him to "smile". As the end credits are on screen, an inset image shows a series of bloopers, including three still photos from Mitch's phone which show Matt lifting and examining the exposed penis and testicles of the deceased, one of which is a close-up of the genitalia. The film's consumer advice was "strong comedic nudity and coarse language".

Begum Jaan is a dramatic film (in Hindi) which follows 11 prostitutes who refuse to part ways with their brothel and each other, during the partition between India and Pakistan. The film contains strong themes, including suicide, and violence. The most impactful content occurred in part two of the film and included a female, armed with a knife, sneaking up and standing behind a male. She grasps his hair in one hand, then implicitly slices his throat. The male grasps his throat as blood pours from the implied wound and drips down covering his hand. The film's consumer advice was "strong themes and violence".

Au Nom De Ma Fille is a French drama portraying the true story of a 14 year old girl who dies under suspicious circumstances while in the care of Dieter Krombach, a doctor and former friend of her father. The girl's autopsy reveals signs of sexual activity, as well as the deliberate misuse of prescribed substances which aided the suspect to subdue and assault her. After the evidence is subsequently mishandled and eventually lost, the father pursues Krombach, and over the course of the next two decades, other crimes surface which paint a damning picture of a sexual predator. The film explores the psychological effects of Krombach's crimes on his victims and their families. The film's consumer advice was "strong themes and sexual violence".

Hacksaw Ridge is a film about US Army medic, Desmond Doss, who refused to carry a firearm owing to his religious beliefs. While under enemy fire during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II, he saves the lives of over 75 comrades. Doss suffers abuse and beatings from his comrades and superiors in the army who disagree with his beliefs. The film features several realistically depicted and sustained battle scenes in which scores of soldiers are killed by gunfire, flamethrowers, grenades, bayonets and heavy artillery explosions. These scenes feature blood sprays, explosions of viscera and the depiction of gory wounds. The film's consumer advice was "strong battle violence, blood and gore".

Jackie is a biographical drama which follows former US First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, after the assassination of her first husband, as she fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy. In a bloody injury flashback sequence, Jackie is viewed sitting in the backseat of a convertible car, waving at crowds during a motorcade, while in Dallas. She narrates to a priest, "The first bullet, boom," and JFK is viewed sitting next to her in the backseat of the car grasping his neck (it is implicit that some event has been suffered by him, but no injury is depicted). Jackie then moves in closer and positions her head in front of him and suddenly a gunshot is heard. In an immediate close-up, exploding head-shot, a large volume of blood and quantities of brain matter spray outwards from the bullet's impact. In a side-on view, a significant portion of the top and side of JFK's head is missing, with exposed brain matter dangling. Jackie, visibly shocked, climbs upon the backseat and gathers pieces of skull and brain matter that are splattered across the back of the vehicle. The Board was of the opinion that this scene exceeded a moderate impact in the level of injury detail and was appropriately accommodated in the MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of "scenes of injury detail" best describing the most impactful content.

Personal Shopper is a supernatural mystery-thriller which follows Maureen, a spiritual medium (and personal shopper for a famous female, Kyra) who, after the loss of her twin brother, begins to experience inexplicable events. The violence in the film is viewed only in a post-action visual. Maureen opens Kyra's bedroom door, is startled, gasps and jumps back. The camera then cuts to Kyra's bed, covered in blood. The white sheets, pillow and quilt are all stained with excessive blood, then the camera pans down to a large blood stain on the floor. A bloody hand print is viewed smeared on the wall, as Maureen walks towards the bathroom. She hesitantly opens the door and finds Kyra's dead naked body slumped on the floor and covered in blood. Her body is surrounded by blood smears and a large amount of blood pooling on the floor beneath her. The Board was of the opinion that although the violence was not depicted occurring, the excessive blood viewed in the scene exceeded moderate and imparted a strong impact. The film's consumer advice was "strong scene of blood detail".

Office Christmas Party is an American comedic film, in which the members of an office hold a huge Christmas party in order to win over a client and save their jobs. In the Board's opinion, the cumulative impact of the sex in the film was heightened by the film's bawdy tone. There were both drug use and references to drug taking in the film, including the placement of a bag of white powder, implicitly cocaine, into a fake-snow blowing machine. This resulted in Walter, a mild-mannered executive, continuing to act intoxicated throughout the film as a result of the implicit cocaine use. The film's most impactful scene of nudity involves a man standing over the scanner of a 3D printer with his penis exposed. A brief shot depicts his testicles and flaccid penis being scanned by the machine; an orange light moves across his genitals. The shot then cuts to a recreation of his genitals by the 3D printer. The film's consumer advice was "strong crude sexual humour, drug use and nudity".

To Love RU Darkness 2nd Complete Season 4 is a Japanese-language (English subtitles) anime series centred on the adventures of male high school student, Rito Yuuki and a bevy of females who either have a crush on him, or end up in sexualised situations with him, regardless. His many female friends include a humanoid, and often naked, alien princesses. The film contains themes of sexual harassment, implied sexual activity and sexual references in the form of sexualised imagery, nudity and sexual violence that are inextricably linked and strong in impact. The several female aliens of human appearance have little concern for physical modesty. Within this context, very frequent depictions of animated nudity and sexualised imagery are featured, including numerous, lingering, close-up depictions of breasts (with nipple detail) and panty-clad crotches. Sexual harassment is also often depicted, with females regularly groping each other's breasts and Rito frequently ending up in sexual situations. In the Board's opinion, such content cumulatively imparted a viewing impact that exceeded moderate, thereby warranting an MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of "strong sexual themes, frequent animated nudity, sex and sexual violence".

Tulip Fever is a historical drama which follows a young woman unhappily married in 17th century Holland. She falls in love with a young artist commissioned to paint her and her wealthy husband. They plan an escape, and the artist dives into the high stakes world of tulip trading to earn their freedom. The film contains implied sexual activity that was strong in impact, the most impactful being when Sophia arrived at Jan's home to deliver tulips for his artwork. The scene lasts several minutes, is well lit, with both actors in full profile view, with breasts and buttocks visible. The film's consumer advice was "strong sex scenes".

R 18+ Restricted

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. People under 18 are not permitted to view R 18+ films in cinemas, or to rent or buy them. 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 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, 66 films were classified R 18+.

Films classified in the reporting period include: Asura: The City of Madness; Banshee Series 4; Bikini Warriors Complete Series; Cuatro Lunas; From Dusk till Dawn; Jim Jefferies: Freedumb; Mob Wives Season 6; Naked & Proud Adventure 2; Rammstein Paris; Raw; The Greasy Strangler; The Last Face; Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid Complete Series.

Aquarius is a Brazilian dramatic film (English subtitles) in which Clara, a 65-year-old widow, defies a development company and vows to remain as the last resident of her building. The film contains sexual activity which is realistically simulated and nudity, which are inextricably linked and high in viewing impact. The film's consumer advice was "high impact sexualised nudity".

The Neon Demon is a psychological horror/thriller about an aspiring model, Jesse, who moves to Los Angeles where her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who are jealous. The themes and sexual activity are inextricably linked in the film, which contains a four minute sequence of necrophilia that is realistically simulated and high in impact and which, in the opinion of the Board, may be offensive to sections of the adult community. Therefore, the film was appropriately located within the R 18+ classification with consumer advice of "high impact sexual themes" best describing the most impactful content.

T2: Trainspotting is a dramatic film in which four friends from Edinburgh, ex-junkies – reunite after 20 years apart and grapple with the fallout of their various addictions. The film follows them as they attempt to rebuild their lives after years of drug addiction and avoid contact with their violent friend, Begbie. The film includes an extended sequence wherein Spud attempts to commit suicide. In the Board's opinion, the cumulative impact of themes within the context of the film, heightened by their frequency and persistence throughout the film's narrative, exceeded a strong impact level and the film therefore warranted an R 18+ classification with consumer advice of "high impact themes, coarse language and drug use".

Awaiting is a psychological horror film focused on Morris, a recluse with psychotic tendencies, who preys on innocent people. The film contains themes and violence that are inextricably linked. The violence is set within the context of dealing with a psychotic killer and Morris's exploration of psychological motives. The film contains frequent bloody violence and includes post-action visuals of murder victims and the gruesome killing of victims which is high in viewing impact. The film's consumer advice is "high impact horror themes and violence, blood and gore".

The Villainess is a South Korean action film (English subtitles), which follows Sook-Hee, a young woman raised to be an assassin, who becomes entangled with two men when she is recruited to be a sleeper cell agent. The film contains high impact, multiple frenetic, lengthy scenes of violence, some of which are depicted in a first-person perspective, which feature explicit wound detail and copious amounts of blood detail. The film's consumer advice is "high impact violence".

X 18+ Restricted

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 can only be legally sold or hired 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 the classification 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.

No films were classified X 18+ during 2016–17.

RC Refused Classification

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.

Out of the total of 2,996 commercial films classified in 2016–17, no commercial films were classified RC in the reporting period.

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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:

    a) are likely to cause the publication to be classified RC; or

    b) are likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult to the extent that the publication should not be sold or displayed as an unrestricted publication; or

    c) are unsuitable for a minor to see or read.

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

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

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Classifications

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

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

Unrestricted

Unrestricted

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

The Unrestricted classification covers a wide range of material. Unrestricted publications may contain classifiable elements such as sex and nudity with some detail but the impact should not be so strong as to require legal restriction to adults.

A special consideration of the 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 42 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publications. This figure includes the granting of five serial publication declarations.

Out of the total of 42 classification decisions for publications, 14 single issue publications and two serial publications were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2016–17 included The Picture and The Handmaid' s Tale.

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 42 publications classified (including five serial publication declarations), 21 single issue publications and three 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 and simulated or obscured depictions 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 Classification Board can impose a further condition that the sealed wrapper is made of opaque material. Category 1 restricted publications cannot be sold in Queensland.

Titles of Category 1 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2016–17 included Hustler.

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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 42 publications classified (including five serial publication declarations), one single issue publication was classified Category 2 restricted. No serial publications were classified Category 2 restricted.

Category 2 restricted publications may include realistic depictions of actual sexual activity involving consenting adults.

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.

The title of Category 2 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2016–17 was The Picture 100% Home Girls.

RC Refused Classification

Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total 42 publications classified (including five serial declarations), no publications were classified RC. The Classification Board refused one serial classification declaration in 2016–17.

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, five periodicals were granted a serial classification declaration. All of these declarations were granted for a 12-month period. The Board refused classification to one serial declaration application.

The Classification Board audits publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, two audits were attempted, however, the audits could not be undertaken as the publications were not available for purchase.

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 the publication can be sold.

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

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Computer games

Decisions for computer games were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2012 (the Guidelines).

The Guidelines explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category. Several 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).

The Board's general practice when providing consumer advice is to indicate the strongest classifiable element or elements contained in the game which caused it to receive the designated classification level. The consumer advice is usually preceded by a descriptor to indicate impact or intensity. This descriptor generally corresponds with the hierarchy of impact stated in the Guidelines.

When Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) games were first launched, the Board resolved to include consumer advice for "AR/VR interactivity". In March 2017, the Board decided to limit such consumer advice and to apply it on a case-by-case basis, for example, in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (MA 15+), there is only one campaign in the game for which the player needs a VR headset. Therefore, the Board included a reference to VR in the consumer advice: "strong themes and violence, VR and online interactivity".

G

The G classification is for a general audience and is the largest classification category for computer games. While many games at the G classification are targeted towards children, it does not necessarily mean that a child will enjoy all games classified G. Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Cars 3; Fall Flat; Farming Simulator 17; Human; Just Dance 2017; Overcooked! Gourmet Edition; Skylanders Imaginators; The Drive To NBA Live (R1); Tumble VR.

Out of the total of 498 computer games classified in 2016–17, 128 computer games were classified G.

1-2-Switch is a compilation of motion-controlled mini-games designed for the Nintendo Switch console, which is a directional hand-held joystick for user input, motion sensing, and high-definition tactile feedback. Set in a party-like atmosphere, the game involves 28 mini-games for one or two players simultaneously playing against each other. In a mini-game titled Boxing Gym, players are simultaneously instructed to throw a series of punch combinations while facing their opponent and holding their joy-con. After the commands, a hypothetical "boxing match" is viewed on screen between 2 boxers. The game's consumer advice was "very mild violence".

Eagle Flight is a VR action game that takes place in a futuristic version of Paris when humans no longer occupy the city. The focus of the game is not the decline of humanity but the resurgence of nature and animals in this world. Played in first-person perspective, the player assumes the role of a young eagle fighting to defend his family from other enemy birds. There is online interactivity in the form of online multiplayer in the "Capture the Prey" game mode. The game's consumer advice was "very mild fantasy violence, VR and online interactivity".

Yooka-Laylee is a 3D open-world platforming game in which players use anthropomorphised characters, Yooka and Laylee, to navigate levels, interact with other characters, collect items, and fight minion and boss characters. The game features highly-stylised, bright and colourful visuals. The game includes melee combat between the player character and enemy characters. The player is capable of performing a range of attacks, including swirling melee attacks, and the use of cannon balls and fire attacks while playing as a ship. The art style of the game is highly stylised, employing cartoonish character design and bright colours. The violence contains no wound detail or blood, damage typically being depicted through damage-taking animations and brightly coloured, stylised effects, such as impact flashes and stars. Defeated characters instantly disappear off screen or, in the case of boss characters, continue to engage in dialogue with the player characters. The game also contains sexual references, which are inextricably linked in the form of crude humour. Yooka and Laylee are transformed into a plant; another plant character refers to them as "hot stuff" and "handsome". A snake called Trowzer teaches Yooka and Laylee how to use the "Buddy Bubble" power which allows them to walk underwater. The move features a bubble, which appears to be emitted from one of the characters' bottoms, forming around the characters in an underwater environment. The game does not include any spoken dialogue; instead, text appears on the screen, with characters uttering squeaking-type sounds. As the crude humour is typically delivered through on-screen text, the lack of spoken dialogue mitigates the impact of the humour so that it does not exceed a G rating. The game's consumer advice was "very mild violence and crude humour".

Mekazoo is a platform game in which the player controls various "mekanimals" including an armadillo, a frog, a wallaby, a panda and a pelican, over 30 colourful levels. The player's animals run, jump, spin, bounce, climb and fly to reach the end of each level, avoiding or defeating enemy animals (including slugs and bees) and "bosses" on the way. The game contains no online interactivity. The game contains violence that has a low sense of threat and menace which is justified by context. The game uses a side-on perspective and is set in neon-bright, colourful environments, with cartoon-style animal protagonists and enemies. Gameplay consists of navigating each platform level, moving left to right, solving environmental puzzles, avoiding hazards (such as red spikes) and defeating enemies. If the player's character hits a spike or other obstacle, the character model flashes before the game immediately restarts from the last checkpoint. The game's consumer advice is "general".

PG

Computer games in this classification contain content that a child may find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of a parent or guardian. Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Happy Dungeons; Head Lander; King Oddball; Minecraft Story Mode: A Journey's End; Motorsport Manager; Planetbase; Siegecraft Commander; The Inner World – The Last Wind Monk; We Sing; Wing Commander.

Out of the total of 498 computer games classified in 2016–17, 152 computer games were classified PG.

Zafehouse Diaries 2 is a point-and-click strategy game, in which the player responds to moral dilemmas in order to help five people survive a zombie apocalypse long enough to be rescued. Gameplay features a series of diary entries describing various scenarios. The player is asked to make decisions and command the actions of the playable characters. The consequences of the player's decisions are described in subsequent diary entries. When any of the survivors is implicitly attacked by zombies, growling sound effects are heard and the diary becomes spattered with stylised blood. These attacks are not depicted, but are only described. A typical description reads: "The fighting took place throughout the factory. They killed 34 zombies. Kenneth and Helen were injured in the fight. Thomas and Linda were killed." The game's consumer advice was "mild survival themes".

Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny is a classic role-playing game, played in first-person view. The overall task is to find the "Blade of Destiny" on a long journey of quests. Battles are fought round-based with an isometric perspective, with the ultimate goal being to prevent an orc invasion. Battle scenes involve text-based and turn-based combat. Characters, both human and fantasy creatures, are seen to be struck by various weapons such as arrows, swords, hatchets and spears. Delivered blows result in brief blood sprays that disappear. When a character is killed, the body is depicted lying on the ground, intact, with no blood or wound detail. In some instances, the camera pans in, revealing a closer shot of delivered blows and the brief resulting blood spray. However, the impact of this violence is mitigated by the slow turn-based combat, unrealistic and cartoon-like presentation of blood, and textualised instructions, as well as the stylised mode of violence, using characters who do not have a lot of image detail. The use of mythical characters and the fantasy settings mitigate the impact imparted by themes and violence. Consumer advice of mild fantasy violence best describes the content and subsumed advice for themes. The game's consumer advice was "mild fantasy violence".

Manual Samuel is a narrative-driven, comedic adventure game, in which the player takes the role of a spoiled young man, Sam, who is hit by a truck and sent to Hell, where he makes a deal with Death (portrayed as a skateboard-riding, skull-faced slacker), to be resurrected. Sam must survive 24 hours of doing everything for himself (with all of his movements manually controlled by the player), in order to avoid being sent back to Hell. As Sam is resurrected after being struck by a septic truck, at the beginning of the game's Story Mode, the voiceover narrator explains that the player must control Sam's every movement, including breathing and walking. The narrator guides the player through each basic movement, as Sam walks to the bathroom and clumsily begins brushing his teeth. The narrator then guides the player through the process of Sam "taking a leak". Shown from behind Sam's back, a stream of yellow urine rises and splashes across a toilet bowl, over the bathroom floor and finally lands, according to the narrator, all over Sam himself. The game contains infrequent use of mild coarse language, which is justified by context. When introducing the character Sam, the narrator says, "You're a douche, aren't you, Sam?" The game's consumer advice was "mild crude humour, coarse language and violence".

Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers is a Japanese fantasy role-playing game set in ancient China during the Three Kingdoms period. Players control a young warrior, Zhao Yun, and his best friend, a scholar named Lei Bin, as they set out to guide a mysterious supernatural being, Lixia, on her journey across China. The game contains mild sexual references primarily in the form of sexualised imagery, with some female characters wearing outfits that place an emphasis on their buttocks and breasts. A character, named Diaochan, is dressed in a revealing blouse or bodice, with her exaggerated breasts covered only by small triangles of material. Combat animations emphasise her cleavage from both above and below her breasts. The game's consumer advice was "mild fantasy violence and sexualised imagery".

Steep is a sports game which is set in the Swiss Alps. The game can be played in either first or third-person perspective with the aim of the game to become a famous action sports star by competing in ski, snowboard, wingsuit and paragliding competitions. The game contains online interactivity in the form of multiplayer mode and online leader boards. The game's consumer advice was "mild coarse language and dangerous stunts, online interactivity".

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 a parent or guardian to make decisions about appropriate entertainment material for their child and to provide adequate supervision.

Out of the total of 498 computer games classified in 2016–17, 139 computer games were classified M.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: A Rose In The Twilight; Batman – The Telltale Series: Episode 4 – Guardian Of Gotham; Crawl; Deathtrap; Earth's Dawn; Firewatch; Hyper Light Drifter; Loading Human; Rogue Stormers; Subterrain; Tango Fiesta; The Bug Butcher; The Sexy Brutale; Troll And I; Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.

Big Buck Hunter Arcade is an arcade-style, first-person shooting game, in which the player, armed with a single-shot shotgun, hunts wildlife including buck, moose, deer and "trophy" animals, such as bears and wolves. Points are awarded for accuracy and speed. The game is shown from a first-person perspective, with the hunter's arms and shotgun barrel visible at the bottom of the screen. Woodland environments and animals are realistically rendered and animated as the screen pans and zooms to follow the animals' movements. Gameplay consists of moving a targeting reticule across the screen, to shoot various animals (such as bucks) while avoiding others (such as does). Players must re-load the weapon, which is also realistically rendered, after each shot. As well as game animals, other animals such as skunk and rabbits may be targeted and killed. If an animal is shot and killed, it falls to the ground and immediately disappears from the screen. No blood or injury detail is depicted. The game's consumer advice was "hunting violence".

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is a Japanese action role-playing game, in which players guide four goddess characters from Gamindustri, who are playing a virtual-reality fantasy game called 4 Goddesses Online. The antagonist is a rival video game developer, who attempts to sabotage the 4 Goddesses Online game. The game features online interactivity in the form of multiplayer and chat functions. One of the 4 Goddesses Online characters, Vert, is depicted as an elfin goddess with a low-cut dress, which exposes a significant part of her cleavage. During one scene, when Vert meets a guardian spirit called Bouquet, stylised hearts burst from her eyes. Vert moves towards Bouquet, who is then depicted in a static image with her head between Vert's breasts. Bouquet says, "W-what?! My vision is filled with… bouncy bouncy." Noire says to Vert, "What in the world are you doing?! You've given the poor girl a nosebleed!" The game's consumer advice was "sexualised imagery and sexual references, online interactivity".

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a first-person horror game in which the player solves environmental puzzles in order to escape from a haunted school, while avoiding the janitor and ghosts. There are several jump scares involving ghoul-like faces, which scream and lunge out of cupboards when they are opened. Various ghostly figures are viewed around the school, including a girl who climbs a wall before skittering away across the ceiling. Some ghosts chase and run into the character, causing "health damage". The player's character does not have any weapons; however, violence occurs when the character is discovered by a janitor, who blows a whistle and gives chase. If the janitor catches the character, the character is repeatedly beaten with a baseball bat, resulting in red blood spatter on the screen, until the character slides to the floor, implicitly dead, and a screen reads, "Game Over". The game's consumer advice was "horror themes and violence".

What Remains of Edith Finch is a first-person, narrative exploration game, in which the player controls Edith, a pregnant teenage girl, as she explores her ancestral home and discovers the stories behind the deaths of each of her family members. The most impactful content in the game was its themes, as Edith explores her ancestral home and experiences the dying moments of each of her family members in a series of mechanically dissimilar, mini-games. The game's consumer advice was "mature themes".

Strafe is a first-person-shooter game, which follows the plight of a "scrap collector" who is sent on board a derelict spacecraft to collect salvageable material. On board, the player is forced to battle various humanoid alien-like enemies and robotic sentries, which the player combats using various weapons, including shotguns, railguns, machine guns and grenade launchers. The violence is heavily mitigated by the stylised nature of the visual aesthetic, which utilises deliberately rudimentary graphics featuring blocky pixilation. Because of this, wound detail and body part detail is very limited, reducing impact significantly. The exaggerated level of blood, and the fact that spilling it by the gallon is an explicit goal, lends the game a slightly absurd tone, further mitigating the impact of the violence. The game's consumer advice was "violence, blood and gore".

Ultima VIII: Gold Edition is the 8th edition of the role-playing fantasy game. In this edition, the playable character is banished to the world of Pagan, where he must find four artefacts in order to reconstruct a gate, which will teleport him back to Britannia. Gameplay is presented from a third-person view and consists of traversing a crudely animated, fantasy landscape and engaging in combat with spiders, zombies and various other enemies, while searching for magical artefacts. Bright red pixellated blood appears, to indicate an enemy's death. The themes and violence are mitigated by the extremely pixellated graphics and distant, third-person view. The game's consumer advice was "fantasy themes and violence".

MA 15+ Restricted

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 an MA 15+ computer game. MA 15+ computer games contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity which have a strong impact.

Out of the total of 498 computer games classified in 2016–17, 59 computer games were classified MA 15+.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Assassin's Creed – The Ezio Collection; Dead Effect 2; Deadfall Adventures; Here They Lie; Middle Earth: Shadow Of War; Resident Evil Revelations; Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse; The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 4 Thicker Than Water; Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade.

Nioh is an action role-playing game with a third-person perspective, in which the player controls William, a European Samurai, as he battles humans and fantasy creatures in 16th century Japan. The game contains online interactivity in the form of asynchronous, co-op and PvP-based multiplayer. Gameplay consists of hacking and slashing at human and fantasy creature NPCs with weapons, including a variety of Japanese swords, axes, spears, long bows, cannons, rifles, shuriken, matchlocks and fists. Upon attack impact, a small quantity of red blood sprays from human characters and a small amount of inhuman blood sprays from fantasy creatures. The cumulative impact of themes and violence is heightened by the frequency of combat. The game's consumer advice was "strong fantasy themes and violence, online interactivity".

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a VR, first-person arcade shooting game, in which the player, armed with an upgradeable pistol in each hand, must survive waves of attacking enemies while travelling on a horror-themed rollercoaster ride. The game contains seven levels with multiple paths. The game contains online interactivity in the form of online leader boards. The horror narrative of the game is set within the confines of seven different horror-themed rollercoaster rides including, Hotel Hell, Psycho Cellblock and Ghost Town. The game's consumer advice was "strong horror themes and violence, VR and online interactivity".

Yakuza 0 is a Japanese open world, action-adventure game set in Tokyo in 1988. The game is a prequel to the Yakuza series and follows the fortunes of two main protagonists, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, as they attempt to rise through the ranks of the Japanese criminal underworld. Third-person interactive fight sequences require the player to engage in hand-to-hand and armed melee combat, using weapons such as swords, baseball bats, knives, guns and other projectile weapons. Fight sequences use stylised visual effects, including slow-motion effects and bright flashes of light to indicate weapon swings and impact. Blood effects and injury detail are also depicted. Some of the most impactful material in the game is contained in its cut-scenes such as when Tachibana is tortured while tied to a chair. When he refuses to answer questions, a yakuza interrogator swings a sledgehammer at his toes. The camera cuts away at the moment of impact to show Tachibana grimacing in pain, as a crunching sound indicates the breaking of bones. A post-action close-up visual shows the head of the hammer resting on his foot, a pool of blood spreading below it. As a high-ranking yakuza intervenes and the scene progresses, the camera cuts to a slow-motion, close-up shot, as the interrogator swings the sledgehammer at Tachibana's head, striking him on the temple and knocking him to the ground. As the cumulative impact of sexual references was at the upper limit of what is able to be accommodated within the M classification, additional consumer advice of "sexual references" was warranted. The game's consumer advice was "strong themes, violence and sexual references".

Watch Dogs 2 is a third-person perspective, open-world, action-adventure game in which the player assumes the role of Marcus Holloway, a hacker attempting to bring down a data-collecting corporation. The game has online interactivity in the form of co-operative multiplayer modes and leader boards. The player is tasked with completing a variety of missions that often involve hacking into the devices of criminals or law enforcement agents. The most impactful thematic content in the game is contained in two missions: in one, the player hacks an implicit provider of paedophile material; and in the other, the house of an FBI agent attempting to commit suicide. Players can also inflict post-mortem damage in the form of some rag-dolling. When the player is damaged, blood spatter is viewed around the edge of the screen, which darkens and spreads as the damage worsens. The game contains use of strong coarse language. As the nudity was at the upper limit of the M classification, additional consumer advice of "nudity" was warranted. The game's consumer advice was "strong themes, violence, coarse language and nudity, online interactivity".

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the latest instalment in the Call of Duty series, a realistic, first-person militaristic shooter, set in the future, where the military attempt to stop the SDF from taking over the planet. The player, Captain Nick Reyes, sets out on a number of clandestine missions in a bid to drive the SDF back into space. In multiplayer mode, the player earns experience through co-operative team play against other players. The game has online multiplayer capabilities, where players may communicate via text and audio. The game also has VR interactivity through an optional add-on titled, Jackal Assault, where the player takes control of a space-capable Jackal fighter jet and engages in combat with other spaceships. Post-mortem damage is limited to blood spatter when firing into a corpse. Victims may move if they are in close proximity to explosions. Player injury is depicted by a red splattered blood effect on the screen's foreground. Death is indicated by a heavily blood spattered red screen and text detailing the reason for death. The game's consumer advice was "strong themes and violence, VR and online interactivity".

R 18+ Resctricted

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. People 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 498 computer games classified in 2016–17, 18 computer games were classified R 18+.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Dead Rising 4; Friday The 13TH: The Game; Mafia III; The Town of Light; This is the Police; Shadow Warrior 2.

Gears of War 4 is a modified version of a previously submitted science-fiction themed, third-person shooting game, set on the fictional Earth-like planet of Sera, Gears of War 4 Beta. Players take the role of humans (COGS), or alien creatures (Swarm), and join a squad of other players to compete in online matches against other squads. The game features online interactivity in the form of multiplayer with unrestricted voice chat. Violence occurs as squads of players, armed with an array of projectile and melee weapons, compete on various levels to eliminate the members of opposing squads. Copious blood and injury effects are depicted throughout the game in a stylised and often exaggerated manner. Blood and injury effects include: blood splashes, often across the entire screen; the disintegration of skin and organs caused by rapid-fire machine guns; and "gibbing" and dismemberment as a result of explosions and various weapons, such as a hand-held chainsaw. Blood and viscera splatters are shown, as are blood pools and dismembered bodies. Post-mortem damage to corpses, by using kicks or weapons, is also possible. Close-range executions of alien and human characters include: dismemberment with blades and the cutting of bodies in half with a circular saw; bloody head explosions from grenade impact, gun shots, or repeated impact with blunt objects or the ground; and decapitations that create copious blood spray from the neck stump. The game's consumer advice was "high impact bloody violence, online interactivity".

Mary Skelter: Nightmares is a Japanese dungeon-crawling, role-playing game for the touch-screen, PlayStation Vita, set in an alternate universe of a "living hell". The narrative follows two characters, Jack and Alice, who escape a prison-like living tower, called "Jail", with the help of a "Blood Maiden", who draws power from the blood of monster-like creatures called "Marchens" [sic]. Alice soon learns that she, too, is a Blood Maiden. The most impactful material occurs after battles, when the player is given the opportunity to "purge" the blood from the bodies of the various Blood Maiden characters. After the player selects a character to "purge", the character model is presented as a still image, dressed in a swimsuit, covered in pink-coloured "blood". Each Blood Maiden is of indeterminate age, with the exaggerated breasts and hips typical of the genre. Using a finger on the PlayStation Vita's touch screen, the player "rubs" the pink colouring from the character's body, with the camera zooming in on the character's breasts, stomach and thighs to reveal bare skin beneath. The player may also rub away the "material" of the swimsuit, although nipples and genital areas always remain masked with dark squares. If the player rubs a character's breast area, a brief animation depicts movement of the character's breasts. The rubbing animation is accompanied by dialogue as well as audible moaning and other sounds implying sexual gratification. Dialogue includes the following phrases: "You want to touch me? Please be gentle." "What are you touching? You're quite good at this." Completing a "purge" results in an increase of hit points for each Blood Maiden character as the game progresses, constituting an incentive or reward for the player to engage in the activity described. As the sexual activity is related to incentives and rewards it must be classified R 18+. The game's consumer advice was "sexual activity related to incentives and rewards".

Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash is a water gun, third-person shooter video game in the Senran Kagura series for the PlayStation 4. The game focuses on the Peach Beach Splash water gun tournament, to which female ninjas from various factions are invited, and where the winning team gets any reward it wants. Players take the roles of the ninjas (shinobi schoolgirls), and fight in various game modes, online multiplayer battles, and single-player games. The game contains high impact themes in the form of the sexualisation of female characters, and sexualised gameplay that is related to incentives and rewards and therefore, warranted being legally restricted to adults. These elements are inextricably linked throughout the game, a highly sexualised water-fight simulator. It is only the female characters who are portrayed in a high impact, sexualised manner. This includes, for example, being dressed in extremely skimpy clothing barely covering their nipples, with the majority of their over-sized breasts being exposed, and with bikini bottoms barely covering their pubic bones. They are often depicted in sexualised postures and with facial expressions that imply their alluring sexuality. The player can alter the position of their legs to a "splayed" position. In "Skinship" mode, the player is able to toggle between controlling streams of coloured water and floating white-gloved hands. When using the hands, the player is able to continuously rub/slap the breasts and buttocks of female characters and in some cases, lift their skirts to expose their underpants. Using particular button combinations, players are able to "hold", "touch" or "grope" female characters' breasts and buttocks. When the player gropes some female characters, they blush. The comments uttered by some of the female characters imply that they are being degraded and humiliated, and presented in such a way for the player's sexual titillation. The game thereby promotes objectification of women, and portrays the female characters in a demeaning and disrespectful manner. The player is rewarded for fondling the breasts of the women, with a heart meter (symbolising the heart of the female characters) appearing in the top-right corner of the screen and filling as the women's breasts are fondled. When the heart meter reaches full capacity, a mini-game is triggered in which the player gets the opportunity to consensually kiss the female character. The game's consumer advice was "high impact sexual interactivity related to incentives or rewards and demeaning sexualised behaviour, online interactivity".

Outlast 2 is a survival-horror game in which the player assumes the role of Blake Langermann, a cameraman, working with his journalist wife, Lynn. They become separated after a helicopter crash and, while searching for her, Blake finds himself navigating a nightmarish place, home to a mysterious "End of Times" cult, led by a man named Sullivan Knoth. The game contains high impact horror themes such as sadistic torture and ritualistic evisceration, decapitation and dismemberment. While navigating a variety of environments, various cinematic techniques (audio and visual) are used to heighten the player's feelings of suspense, shock, fear and horror. In one scene, a campfire is viewed, surrounded by mutilated bodies, or parts of bodies impaled on stakes; many are rotted or decomposing and one, still partially clothed, is tied to a tree. Its chest cavity is exposed and the intestines have been partially pulled out and looped around the surrounding stakes. Decapitated heads are impaled on the two stakes either side of the tree. Generous blood and wound detail, as well as a swarm of large flies, complete the scene. In one section of gameplay, the player, as Blake, stumbles into a forest clearing after having had psycho-active dust blown into his face. With his vision blurring, Blake witnesses what appears to be a ritualistic orgy. One creature on the right side of the clearing has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex. The player can approach the couple and view the implicit sex from different perspectives, but no genital detail is viewed. The game's consumer advice was "high impact horror themes, violence, blood, gore and sex". The Board notes that an earlier version of Outlast 2 was Refused Classification because it included a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore, according to the Guidelines, could not be accommodated within the R 18+ classification category. The applicant advised subsequently that it had sent erroneous material to the Board, thereby nullifying the RC decision (refer to pp 71–72).

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RC Refused Classification

In 2016–17, out of the total of 498 computer games classified, two computer games were classified RC.

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.

Two computer games were classified RC during the reporting period: Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni and The Bug Butcher.

Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni is a Japanese third-person hack and slash adventure game in which the player controls "weaponised", super-powered young women on the fictionalised island of Bhikkuni. In the opinion of the Board, this game warranted being Refused Classification in accordance with items 1(a) and (c) of the computer games table (clause 4) of the Code.

Playable characters within the game consist of a number of young women, all drawn in the typically stylised manner of anime characters. The characters are invariably depicted in scantily-clad costumes with exaggerated and oversized breasts which jiggle or undulate when the characters move.

Various interactions with the game's characters take place in "The Communications Room" and "The Dressing Room", including the ability to dress characters in a variety of outfits, and to "touch" them, using the game device's touch-screen functionality or mapped "Quick Buttons". The control guide for "Quick Buttons" includes "Move Breast", "Move Breasts", "Rub Upper Body", "Rub Lower Body", "Touch Chest" and "Touch Butt". The player receives both "hit points" (as a reward for touch interactions, shown by an on-screen indicator), and "experience points", which can increase the player's overall ranking as well as providing access to various mini-games and challenges.

Costume changes and touch interactions within "The Dressing Room" consist of the player selecting a character and then choosing an outfit (e.g. bikini). The player is able to rotate the character model to inspect the outfit and to "touch" the character in the manner described above. Touch interactions are represented visually by marks (such as the skin reddening from contact) and movement on the character models, as well as through dialogue responses (subtitled in English on screen). Characters repeatedly say, "Don't touch me there!", "What do you think you're doing?", "No!", "You can't do that!", "Stop already!" and "You can't touch me there."

In the Board's opinion, these character responses provide a clear implication of "sexual violence", which the Guidelines define as "Sexual assault or aggression, in which the victim does not consent." As the implied sexual violence is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context, and related to incentives or rewards, it is not permitted within the R 18+ classification. The game was therefore Refused Classification.

The Bug Butcher is a 2D side-scrolling, "shoot-em up" game, in which the player's character, Harry, is an exterminator, tasked with cleansing an infested futuristic research facility on a distant planet. In the Board's opinion, this game warranted being Refused Classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table (clause 4) of the Code.

One of the features in the game is performance enhancing "power ups" that become available as the player progresses through the game. The first power up is an item called a "Speed Injection", which an NPC describes as providing "increased running speed, temporary invincibility, and a faster firing rate". The item is depicted as a silver syringe icon, filled with aqua coloured liquid, with a needle at the bottom and a plunger at the top. Although the player is not visually depicted injecting the syringe, its use is implicit by its appearance in the bottom right corner of the screen, with its plunger pressed down and a surrounding ring indicator, depleting. These depictions, accompanied by the rewarded increase in speed that assists in advancing through the game, imply that the character is injecting the substance in the syringe. "Speed" is a common street name for stimulant drugs, particularly those from the amphetamine drug family (including methamphetamine). These drugs are referred to as "speed" because they are synthetic psychostimulant drugs that speed up the workings of the brain. They are proscribed drugs, as specified in Schedule 4 of the Prohibited Imports Regulations.

In the Board's opinion, owing to the implied textual and graphic reference (in the form of the syringe) to the use of a group of proscribed drugs which are known to be highly addictive and currently of concern to the community, and the insufficient delineation between the "Speed Injection" available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs, and the game's treatment of implied drug use as both a reward and an incentive within gameplay, the game warranted being Refused Classification as it contained "drug use related to incentives and rewards", which is impermissible in the R 18+ classification.

Subsequently, a modified version of the game was submitted wherein the "Speed Injection" had been renamed "Boot Juice", allowing the game to be classified M, with consumer advice of "violence, online interactivity".

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Other decisions

Internet content

During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified four applications containing internet content items, of which three were classified Refused Classification (RC) and one was classified MA 15+ (see page 42 for breakdown of statistics). These applications were made by both the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the ACMA.

Of four applications, three received an RC:

  • One item consisted of what appeared to be 14 pages from a webpage embedded within a PDF document. The pages comprised photographic images depicting young female children, who are or appear to be under the age of 18 years, in sexualised poses and/or engaged in explicit sex acts. This content was classified RC pursuant to Schedule 7 of the BSA and in accordance with items 1(a) and 1(b) of the films table (clause 3) in the Code.
  • One item consisted of what appeared to be 23 pages from a webpage embedded within a PDF document. The pages comprised photographic images depicting young female children, who are, or appear to be, under the age of 18 years, in sexualised poses and/or engaged in explicit sex acts. This content was classified RC pursuant to Schedule 7 of the BSA and in accordance with items 1(a) and 1(b) of the films table (clause 3) of the Code.

In relation to both applications described above, the Board was satisfied that this content "depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex and crime in such a way that it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and that it describes or depicts, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not)".

  • One item consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website embedded within a 7-page PDF document. The webpage contained a news article and two embedded video files. One video file appeared to be a documentary, and the other appeared to be a commentary. This content was classified RC pursuant to Schedule 7 of the BSA and in accordance with section 9A of the Classification Act.

The remaining application consisted of what appeared to be 13 pages from a webpage embedded within a PDF document. The pages comprised text allegations of, amongst other things, child abuse and sexual abuse against a woman (who appeared to be the author of the page from the website), and other unidentified children, interspersed with hand-drawn pictures of the alleged events described. The Board noted that as submitted, the content to be classified was situated within the context of what appeared to be a page from a website; and as submitted, the content consisted of text and static images only and did not contain any other context. Within this context, the content warranted an MA 15+ classification pursuant to Schedule 7 of the BSA.

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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 2016–17 reporting period, the Classification Board received 173 complaints, a reduction of 29% when compared with the previous period. A breakdown of complaints by category is as follows:

  • one complaint about a decision for publications
  • 100 complaints about decisions for films
  • 65 complaints about decisions for computer games, and
  • seven general complaints about associated classification matters.

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

The overall reduction in the number of complaints can largely be explained by the reduced number of complaints received concerning decisions for films.

Publications

The Classification Board made 42 classification decisions for publications in the reporting period (this included six serial publication declaration decisions).

One complaint was received about publications during 2016–17. This was about the availability of the magazine Kaz Cooke Girl Stuff 8-12.

Films

The Classification Board made 2,996 classification decisions for films in 2016–17 and received 100 complaints about the classifications of films. This compares with 205 complaints in 2015–16. Films which attracted the most complaints were Sausage Party; The Secret Life of Pets and Logan.

There were nine complaints about the film Sausage Party. The complainants were of the view that the MA 15+ classification, with consumer advice "strong crude sexual humour, coarse language and drug use", was too low.

The film The Secret Life of Pets, which was classified G with the consumer advice "very mild sense of threat and some crude humour", attracted five complaints in the reporting period. The complainants believed the film's classification was too low owing to the use of crude humour and the sense of threat or menace and that the film required parental guidance.

Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles.

Computer games

The Classification Board made 498 classification decisions for computer games in 2016–17 and received 65 complaints about computer games. Computer games which attracted the most complaints were Outlast 2 and Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni.

The Classification Board received 44 complaints about the computer game Outlast 2 which is classified R 18+ with consumer advice of "high impact horror themes, violence, blood and gore and sex". The game was initially classified RC based on information provided by the applicant. The applicant subsequently notified the Board that erroneous material not present in the game had been provided with the application for classification. The complainants believed the RC classification for the game was too high. These complaints were received before the applicant notified the Board of its erroneous inclusion of material not in the game, thereby invalidating the RC decision.

There were five complaints about the computer game Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni being Refused Classification (RC). On 9 August 2016, the Board classified Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni RC. The Board was of the view that the content of this 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".

Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles.

Other complaints

There were five complaints that covered classification related issues.

The majority of the complaints were in relation to the classification of films, particularly in relation to MA 15+ and R 18+ decisions.

Other complaints included concerns about consumer advice and material being classified too low.

Table 14: Complaints
Complaints Number
Publications decisions 1
Films decisions 100
Computer games decisions 65
General complaints 7
Total 173

Enquiries and other assistance

The Department of Communications and the Arts responded to a range of other enquiries which are related to classification policy matters.

This included requests for general classification information. Other requests were 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 concerned the importation of publications, films and computer games, and clarification about the enforcement of classification decisions.

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Classification Review Board Annual Report 2016–17

Convenor's letter of transmittal

Australian Government – Classification Review Board

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP
Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with subsection 85(1) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, I am pleased to submit a report on the management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Review Board for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

Yours sincerely


Fiona Jolly
Convenor

September 2017

Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au

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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 (the Code) and the classification guidelines.

This report includes an overview of the work of the Review Board in 2016–17.

The Review Board received secretariat support from the Classification Branch.

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Convenor's overview

Convenor's overview

Classification Review Board – Acting Convenor - Fiona Jolly

The Classification Review Board is an important independent mechanism for community and industry where there is disagreement about the appropriate classification of films, computer games and publications.

During the 2016–17 reporting period, the Review Board received three applications for review. These applications were for the films Blair Witch, Embrace and Split.

The classification of Blair Witch was reviewed on 5 September 2016. Roadshow Films Pty Ltd applied for the review. The Classification Review Board unanimously classified the film MA 15+ with consumer advice of "strong supernatural themes".

On 10 October 2016, the Review Board convened to review the film Embrace. The application was submitted by Transmission Films. The Classification Review Board unanimously classified the documentary film M, with the consumer advice "nudity".

On the 25 January 2017, the Review Board convened to Review the film Split. Universal Pictures International applied for the review. The Classification Review Board unanimously classified the film M, with the consumer advice "mature themes, violence and occasional coarse language".

I note the recommendations of the Review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority included further work to explore the potential to expand the ACMA's remit to take on certain classification functions currently administered within the Scheme in order to harmonise online and offline classification functions.

I would like to thank the Review Board members for their professionalism and willingness to convene at short notice during 2016–17.

Finally, I would like to thank members of the Classification Branch who have provided secretariat support and valuable advice to the Review Board and its members over the past year.

Fiona Jolly
Acting Convenor

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Classification Review Board profiles

Current Board members

Classification Review Board – Acting Convenor - Fiona Jolly

Fiona Jolly

Acting Convenor
APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 3 October 2017

Ms Fiona Jolly, 49, 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 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). She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ms Jolly is the parent of four children aged nine to seventeen 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 – Peter Attard

Peter Attard

APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 3 October 2017

Mr Peter Attard, 49, lives in Melbourne, Victoria. He has been the director of two small retail businesses, managing digital music sales as well as importing food, wine and beer from Malta. Mr Attard has also been involved in a variety of hospitality projects and ventures.

He has created and taught media, visual literacy, visual arts and photography subjects in both secondary and TAFE education, as well as serving as Coordinator 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, and actively pursues his passions of film appreciation, music, AFL and travel.

Classification Review Board Member – Peter Price

Peter Price

APPOINTED: 7 December 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 3 October 2017

Mr Peter Price, 52, resides in Sydney, NSW and is an advertising and communications professional with over 25 years' experience in multi-national agencies in Johannesburg, London and Sydney. He is currently the Managing Director of First Light, an advertising agency he founded in 1994 as well as part time CEO of Crime Stoppers in NSW and Director of Corporate Communications for Crime Stoppers Australia.

His experiences as a victim of multiple crimes in South Africa helped steer him in the direction of violence prevention and law enforcement advocacy. Mr Price has been closely involved with the development of Crime Stoppers. Mr Price has been a Director of Crime Stoppers since 1999 and has served as Chairman for five years and as Deputy Chairman for six years. He has also served as CEO of Crime Stoppers NSW since 2008 and Vice President of Crime Stoppers International since 2012.

In 2009, Mr Price was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to community safety through executive roles with Crime Stoppers. In 2017, Mr Price was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to community safety as an advocate for law enforcement and crime prevention programs. Mr Price was also a Board Director of the Internet Industry Association from 2011 to 2014. He holds a diploma in marketing management and is a graduate and fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Classification Review Board Member – Susan Knowles

Susan Knowles

APPOINTED: 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 3 October 2017

Ms Susan (Sue) Knowles, 66, resides in Perth, Western Australia. Ms Knowles retired as a Senator for Western Australia in the Australian Federal Parliament after 21 years of public service. During her career in the Parliament, Ms Knowles held a variety of positions including Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate. Ms Knowles also served on many Senate committees and inquiries including as chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee dealing with health care, aged care, Aboriginal heath, welfare and other related matters.

Ms Knowles is currently a chair of the Council of Owners for Seashells Resorts in Broome and Mandurah. She is actively involved in the local community by way of volunteer work with the St John of God Hospital and is a member and patron of several local sporting clubs.

Classification Review Board Member – Richard Williams

Richard Williams

APPOINTED: 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 3 October 2017

Mr Richard Williams resides in Brisbane, Queensland, and is the Principal for Ideas Grew, a consultancy providing a range of services to commercial and not-for-profit organisations including strategic planning, development of funding models, research, reviews, mediation and training.

His career history encompasses both state and Commonwealth government positions including Director of Strategic Planning for Queensland's Emergency Services Department, Director of Facilities and Services for Education Queensland and First Assistant Secretary with the former Commonwealth agency, Australian Estate Management.

Mr Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Town Planning. He has also had a long association with Volunteering Queensland and Volunteering Australia in a variety of positions together with service as a member of the Fathers' Executive of Brisbane Girl's Grammar.

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Legislative base

The Classification 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.

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Decisions of the Review Board

In the reporting period, the Review Board conducted three reviews. The reviews were completed within the statutory timeframe.

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 Date of review decision Original classification Review classification
Blair Witch Film Roadshow Films Pty Ltd 5 September 2016 MA 15+ MA 15+
Embrace Film Transmission Films 13 October 2016 MA 15+ M
Split Film Consumers of Mental Health (Inc) 25 January 2017 M M

Attendance at Review Board meetings

The Review Board convened for three days in 2016–17 to deal with three separate applications.

Table 16: Attendance at Review Board meetings
Review Board member Meetings 2016–17 Meeting days attended 2016–17
Fiona Jolly (FJ), Acting Convenor, ACT 3 2
Peter Attard (PA), VIC 3 2
Peter Price (PP), NSW 3 2
Richard Williams (RW), QLD 3 2
Susan Knowles (SK), WA 3 1

Complaints

The Review Board received no complaints about its decisions in the reporting period.

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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.

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Appendices

Appendix: National Classification Code

National Classification Code

1. Classification decisions are to give effect, as far as possible, to the following principles:

a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;

b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;

c) everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;

d) the need to take account of community concerns about:

i) depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and

ii) the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.

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Publications

Publications are to be classified in accordance with the following table:

Item Description of publication Classification
1 Publications that:
  1. describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence 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; or
  2. describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or
  3. promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence
RC
2 Publications (except RC publications) that:
  1. explicitly depict sexual or sexually related activity between consenting adults in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or
  2. depict, describe or express revolting or abhorrent phenomena in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult and are unsuitable for a minor to see or read
Category 2 restricted
3 Publications (except RC publications and Category 2 restricted publications) that:
  1. explicitly depict nudity, or describe or impliedly depict sexual or sexually related activity between consenting adults, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or
  2. describe or express in detail violence or sexual activity between consenting adults in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or
  3. are unsuitable for a minor to see or read
Category 1 restricted
4 All other publications Unrestricted

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Films

Films are to be classified in accordance with the following table:

Item Description of film Classification
1 Films that:
  1. depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence 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; or
  2. describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or
  3. promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence
RC
2 Films (except RC films) that:
  1. contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence, coercion, sexually assaultive language, or fetishes or depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; and
  2. are unsuitable for a minor to see
X 18+
3 Films (except RC films and X 18+ films) that are unsuitable for a minor to see R 18+
4 Films (except RC films, X 18+ films and R 18+ films) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing by persons under 15 MA 15+
5 Films (except RC films, X 18+ films, R 18+ films and MA 15+ films) that cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15 M
6 Films (except RC films, X 18+ films, R 18+ films, MA 15+ films and M films) that cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians PG
7 All other films G

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Computer games

Computer games are to be classified in accordance with the following table:

Item Description of computer game Classification
1 Computer games that:
  1. depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence 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; or
  2. describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or
  3. promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence
RC
2 Computer games (except RC computer games) that are unsuitable for viewing or playing by a minor R 18+
3 Computer games (except RC and R 18+ computer games) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15 MA 15+
4 Computer games (except RC, R 18+ and MA 15+ computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15 M
5 Computer games (except RC, R 18+, MA 15+ and M computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians PG
6 All other computer games G

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Glossary

Term/abbreviation Explanation
AACG Authorised Assessor Computer Games
ACMA Australian Communications and Media Authority
ACA Scheme Additional Content Assessor Scheme
Advertising Scheme The Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme
APS Australian Public Service
ATSA Scheme Authorised Television Series Assessor Scheme
BSA Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth)
Call in The Director of the Classification Board may call in a publication if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe it is a submittable publication and that it is being published in an Australian state or territory. The Director of the Classification Board may also call in a film or computer game if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe it is not exempt and that it is being published in an Australian state or territory
Classification Act Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth)
Classification Board Statutory body established under the Classification Act. The Classification Board classifies computer games, films and certain publications
Classification Board member A statutory appointee to the Classification Board established under the Classification Act
Classification Branch The Classification Branch of the Department of Communications and the Arts. Classification Branch officers provided administrative support to the Classification Board and Classification Review Board
Classification guidelines Guidelines on the application of the National Classification Code, approved by ministers with responsibility for classification. There are the Guidelines for the Classification of Films, the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games and the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications
Classification Review Board Statutory body established under the Classification Act. The Classification Review Board is a part-time statutory body convened, as required, to review decisions made by the Classification Board
Classification Review Board member Statutory appointee to the Classification Review Board under the Classification Act
Code, the The National Classification Code
Computer games classifications
G
PG
M
MA 15+
R 18+
RC
General
Parental guidance recommended
Recommended for mature audiences
Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
Restricted to 18 years and over
Refused Classification
Consumer advice The Classification Board and Classification Review Board determine consumer advice for films, computer games and certain publications. Films classified G, PG, M, MA 15+, R 18+ and X 18+, and computer games classified G, PG, M, MA 15+ and R 18+, must be assigned consumer advice. Consumer advice generally gives information about the content of the film or game, the principal elements that contributed to the classification of the product and indicates the intensity and/or frequency of those elements. The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board may also provide consumer advice to publications classified Unrestricted
Convenor Member of the Classification Review Board who is responsible for the management of the Classification Review Board's business
Customs Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Deputy Convenor Member of the Classification Review Board who may exercise some of the Convenor's powers in the Convenor's absence
Deputy Director Full-time member of the Classification Board who is the operational manager of that Board and who may exercise some of the Director's powers in the Director's absence
Determined markings Classification symbols, descriptions and consumer advice lines, as determined by the Director as set out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Markings and Consumer Advice) Determination 2014
Director Full-time member of the Classification Board responsible for the management of the Classification Board
eSafety Commissioner The Office of the eSafety Commissioner leads online safety education for the Australian Government and protects Australian children when they experience cyberbullying
Exempt film A film exempt from classification requirements as defined by section 5B of the Classification Act
Fee waiver The waiving of classification application fees by the Director in specific circumstances, as provided by the Classification Act
Film (including video, DVD and other media storage devices) classifications
G
PG

MA 15+
R 18+
X 18+
RC
General
Parental guidance recommended
Recommended for mature audiences
Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
Restricted to 18 years and over
Restricted to 18 years and over
Refused Classification
FOI Act Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)
FOI Freedom of Information
Guidelines Legislative instruments which provide direction on the application of the National Classification Code, approved by ministers with responsibility for classification. Separate guidelines exist for the classification of films, computer games and publications
Industry assessors Persons authorised by the Director to make recommendations to the Classification Board on the classification and consumer advice for: computer games that are likely to be classified G, PG or M; or additional content accompanying previously classified or exempt film/s on DVD or other media storage devices; or certain television series released on DVD or other media storage devices. There are also industry assessors who are authorised to assess the likely classification of unclassified films and/or computer games for advertising purposes
National Classification Scheme
(the Scheme)
A co-operative Commonwealth, state and territory regulatory scheme for classification of films, computer games and certain publications
National Classification Code (the Code) A code that sets out how films, computer games and certain publications are to be classified
Prohibited Exports Regulations Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (Cth); Regulation 3 relates to the exportation of "objectionable goods" (including computer games, computer generated images, films, interactive games and publications)
Prohibited Imports Regulations Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (Cth); Regulation 4A relates to the importation of "objectionable goods" (including computer games, computer generated images, films, interactive games and publications)
Publications classification
Unrestricted
Category 1 restricted
Category 2 restricted
RC
Unrestricted
Not available to persons under 18 years. Not to be sold in Queensland.
Not available to persons under 18 years. Not to be sold in Queensland.
Refused Classification
Serial classification declaration A declaration issued by the Classification Board on the classification and any conditions that apply to issues of a periodical for a specified period
State and territory ministers with responsibility for classification matters The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) assists the Council of Australian Governments by progressing matters relating to law and justice, policing and emergency management. Classification policy matters may be considered by ministers via the LCCSC.
Submittable publication An unclassified publication that is unsuitable for a minor to see or read, and likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult to the extent that the publication should not be sold or displayed as an unrestricted publication

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