FAQ about the Board
Frequently asked questions—about the Board
What is the Classification Board? What is the Classification Review Board and how are the Boards different from each other?
They are two separate Boards. Both Boards are independent from government and from each other.
The Classification Board is a full-time Board which decides the classification of films, computer games and certain publications.
The Classification Review Board only meets to review a decision of the Classification Board when there is a valid application for review. The Board has different members to the Classification Board and makes fewer decisions.
Profiles of the members of both Boards are on the Classification Board members page and the Classification Review Board members page.
What does the Board take into account when it makes its decisions? I'm an adult, I should be able to watch, play and read what I want.
The Board must apply the provisions in the Classification Act 1995, the National Classification Code, the Guidelines for the Classification of Films, the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games and the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications when it makes a classification decision.
The Board makes decisions by majority agreement.
The needs of the Australian public are varied and the Classification Guidelines seek to strike a balance between permitting adults to make choices about their viewing, gaming and reading habits, while at the same time respecting that others need not see material they find confronting and protecting children from inappropriate content.
The National Classification Code lists and broadly describes the classification types. Commonwealth and State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for classification agree to the Code. This is because the States and Territories are equal partners in the Classification Scheme. The Commonwealth Classification Act establishes the Boards, and the States and Territories are responsible for the enforcement of classification decisions and taking action when there are breaches.
The Guidelines for the Classification of Films, the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games and the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications 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 Legislative Instruments.
Three essential principles underlie the Board's classification decisions:
- the importance of context
- assessing impact
- the six classifiable elements.
The six classifiable elements are:
- drug use
How can I find out the reasons for a decision?
The Classification Board and Classification Review Board provide reasons for classification decisions in decision reports. Copies of the Classification Board's decision reports are available by contacting the Classification Branch. The Classification Review Board's reports are on this website.
Is the Classification Board responsible for classifying TV, internet or recorded music content?
The Classification Board does not classify material that is broadcast on radio or television networks. Television programs are classified by classifiers who work at the television stations. Any enquiries about content broadcast on television should be directed to the relevant station.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) establishes a co-regulatory scheme for broadcast services including radio and television. These rely on codes of practice developed by industry and registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
For films screened on television, the BSA requires that codes of practice apply the film classification under the National Classification Scheme. This provides consistency of classification information across films, DVDs and television.
Online content is regulated by the BSA and is administered by the ACMA. If the ACMA receives a valid complaint about Australian-hosted online content or discovers potential prohibited content on its own initiative, the ACMA may (and in some cases must) submit the material to the Classification Board for classification. The ACMA then takes appropriate action in respect of the online content.
Recorded music is monitored by the Australian Record Industry Association. Warning stickers are attached to material with strong lyrics.
Why doesn't the Classification Board classify every book?
The Classification Act 1995 states that the Classification Board should classify only ‘submittable publications'. The definition of a submittable publication does not cover all publications, but only includes publications contain depictions or descriptions that are:
- likely to cause the publication to be classified RC
- or 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 are unsuitable for a minor to see or read.
Only a small section of publications fit the definition of a submittable publication, so it is uncommon to find classifications on items typically sold in bookstores or available in libraries.
Why doesn't the Board classify live shows and music concerts?
The Classification Board classifies films, computer games and some publications. Live theatrical performances (including music concerts) do not generally fall within the classification scheme. If a theatre production is considered indecent or obscene, it may breach State and Territory legislation or common law. This is a matter for the enforcement authority in the relevant State or Territory. There may be limitations on how and where performances that are arguably obscene and/or indecent are shown. Works may be considered obscene where they are offensive to contemporary community standards.
How can I get a job as a Board Member?
Board vacancies are advertised on the Classification website and the Department of Communications and the Arts website. More information can be found on the Careers section of the Department of Communications and the Arts website.