Classification Board and Classification Review Board Annual Reports 2015–16
On this page
- Introduction and Overview
- Corporate overview
- Director’s letter of transmittal
- Director’s overview
- Classification Board profiles
- Convenor’s letter of transmittal
- Convenor’s overview
- Classification Review Board profiles
- Appendix: National Classification Code
© Commonwealth of Australia 2016
This Annual Report 2015–16 is protected by copyright.
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This report can be viewed online at www.classification.gov.au
If you would like additional information on the report, please contact:
Department of Communications and the Arts
Levels 5 and 6
23–33 Mary Street
SURRY HILLS NSW 2010
Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone: 02 9289 7100
Facsimile: 02 9289 7101
Introduction and Overview
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 classification database, are on the website. A copy of this report, as well as Annual Reports from previous years, are also available on the website.
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 2015–16 or at www.communications.gov.au.
Overview of the National Classification Scheme
The National Classification 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) and offences regarding the unlawful use of markings in relation to goods other than films, computer games or publications.
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
- provisions pertaining to prohibited material in prohibited material areas.
The Classification Act is available online at www.comlaw.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 Legislative Instruments at www.comlaw.gov.au. The Code is available in the Appendix here.
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 Legislative Instruments at www.comlaw.gov.au.
There are 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.comlaw.gov.au.
States and territories
As partners in the National Classification 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. Film festivals are also regulated under state and territory legislation. Some jurisdictions have reserved censorship powers.
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 National Classification 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 new 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.
Applications for classification can be lodged under assessor schemes.
None of the assessor schemes are 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), classification applications can be submitted if accompanied by an authorised assessor’s report recommending the classification and consumer advice for the computer game.
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 the 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 and authorised assessors to consider films that consist of one or more episodes of a television series, and 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).
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).
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 the 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.
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 (the ACMA). For the purpose of classifying films screened on television, the BSA requires that codes of practice apply the film classification system under the National Classification 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 Children’s 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.
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 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 Customs 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.
See page 71 for more information on the Classification Review Board.
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.
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
- providing classification education and training for industry and government bodies.
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 2015–16 is $4,662,420.
Costs and revenue for classification are included in the department’s Annual Report 2015–16. The report is available at www.ag.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.
Management of risk is undertaken in accordance with the department’s risk management framework and fraud control plan and procedures.
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, a classification matrix which shows the strength of all the classifiable elements, and a synopsis of public exhibition films and movies on DVD. Information in a range of languages is also available.
In the reporting year, there have been 833,299 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.
Establishment and maintenance of appropriate 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.
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 on here).
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.
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.
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
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 National Classification 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.
The Classification Branch
Locked Bag 3
HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone: 02 9289 7100
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.
Changes to the National Classification Scheme
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Modifications of Films) Instrument 2015 and the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Modifications of Computer Games) Instrument 2015 came into effect on 1 July 2015. These reforms streamlined how modified content is dealt with under the National Classification Scheme so that many more kinds of modifications can now be made to a film or game, such as digitalising movies or adding new levels in a game, without the modified film or game needing to be submitted for classification. They can instead use the classification and consumer advice of the original film or game.
Division 2 of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules) Instrument 2015 came into effect on 11 September 2015. These reforms introduced new ‘conditional cultural exemption’ arrangements for special events like film and computer game festivals and events held by cultural institutions wishing to exhibit unclassified publications, films and computer games. Event organisers no longer need to apply to the Director of the Classification Board each time they want to exhibit unclassified content and, under the simplified new rules, can now self-assess their eligibility for an exemption to classification requirements, subject to certain safeguards.
No matters involving the Classification Board or the Classification Review Board were dealt with by the Commonwealth Ombudsman during 2015–16.
Classification Board Annual Report 2015–16
Director’s letter of transmittal
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP
Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
CANBERRA ACT 2600
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 2015 to 30 June 2016.
21 September 2016
Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au
During the 2015–16 reporting period, the Classification Board continued to meet the challenges of a dynamic and evolving media landscape. During this period, the Classification Board classified its first virtual reality (VR) computer game, marked the completion of the 12-month pilot of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) classification tool for online and mobile computer games, and continued implementation of recommendations of the Lean Six Sigma review for improved efficiencies in the classification process.
In this reporting year, the Board made 3,777 decisions. This included 3,718 commercial classification decisions, 37 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, and 22 classification decisions for enforcement agencies. Every decision was made within the statutory timeframe of 20 days (or five days for priority applications) and I commend the Board on this achievement.
The 2015–16 reporting period also saw some significant changes to the administrative arrangements for the Classification Branch, which supports the Board in its work. On 21 September 2015, the Governor General signed a new Administrative Arrangements Order, which moved responsibility for classification related matters and the administration of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 from the Attorney Generals’ portfolio to that of the Department of Communications and the Arts. Following this machinery of government change, the policy and secretariat support provided to the Classification Board is now provided by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
Throughout this process, I worked closely with the Classification Branch and the department to ensure a seamless and efficient transition. The Board was consulted on a range of change-related issues including new information technology (IT) arrangements which are critical to the Board meeting its statutory obligations. The transition to the new IT arrangements in the department occurred on 9 May 2016.
As Director, I have continued to review the Board’s procedures and processes, to optimise the quality and efficiency of Board decision making. During this reporting period, I was a member of the Lean Six Sigma Steering Committee comprising members of the Board and the Branch. As a result of the review, a number of changes and improvements were made to the classification process, underpinned by timely and consistent review of indicators that have been adopted to measure timeliness and quality of Board decision making. This has included training and professional development of Board members in areas of challenge.
During this period, the Classification Board received its first application for a virtual reality game, Fruit Ninja, on 21 July 2016. The game was classified G with consumer advice of ‘General, virtual reality and online interactivity’. New technologies and media platforms bring with them unique challenges and I continue to work closely with the Board and the Classification Branch to ensure that our systems, processes and skillsets are able to accommodate these new technologies.
A pilot of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) tool was completed during this reporting period. The IARC tool allows mobile and online games to be classified, that is, computer games that are distributed electronically, downloaded onto devices and can be played directly through a website. The tool was developed in partnership with government and industry content classification authorities from around the world including the United States and Canada, Europe and Brazil.
The Australian pilot of the IARC tool commenced on 1 July 2015 and concluded on 30 June 2016. A total of 493 audits of classification decisions made by the IARC tool were undertaken, including 16 by request of the Director of the Board and 432 random audits from the full range of classification categories. The Board has the power to revoke classifications made by the IARC tool if it decides it would have given the game a different classification and/or consumer advice. Analysis of the pilot data shows that the general accuracy of the tool is high, at approximately 81%. However, a lower level of accuracy was noted around wording of consumer advice. The pilot showed that game developers generally took their responsibilities with using the tool seriously and, in fact, erred towards over-classification.
Key achievements of this pilot include the classification of just under 500,000 online, mobile and downloadable games that would otherwise not have been classified; the use of the tool by several major providers of games, including Google, Nintendo and Microsoft; and the general satisfaction of stakeholders with the tool’s performance, with five public complaints registered about the tool’s decisions.
A number of research projects were conducted by the Branch’s in-house research function during this reporting period. This research provides valuable insights and information which inform the work of the Board, in particular in assisting the Board in reflecting current community standards in its decision making.
Three research reports were published on the Classification website during this reporting period. The report ‘Classifiable elements, impact descriptors and consumer advice: Research with the general public’ presented the findings of research with community members regarding: the ongoing appropriateness and adequacy of the classifiable elements of violence, nudity, drug use, sex, themes and coarse language; understanding and perceptions of the impact descriptors used by the Board; and the impact of consumer advice. Two further research reports, ‘Classification ratings: Research with the general public’ and ‘Classification ratings: stakeholder and practitioner consultation’ documented findings of community research and stakeholder consultation undertaken in relation to classification categories and markings as well as attitudes to the role and regulation of classification in Australia. Key findings of this research included that the community is generally supportive of the continued existence of a classification scheme but believe it needs to adapt to changes in the media environment; that the role of classification is viewed primarily for the protection of children, followed by the empowerment of adult consumers; that consumer advice is highly valued; that the independence of the Classification Board from government is viewed as a key strength of the current classification system; and that the current classification ratings are generally viewed favourably.
To further assist the Board in staying abreast of new technology and trends, community standards and ongoing professional development, Board members attended a variety of conferences and participated in a range of formal and informal training opportunities.
For example, in November 2015, I attended the ‘Rights of the Child Consumer Conference’, presented by the Australian Council on Children and the Media and the Human Rights Commission. The theme of the conference was issues relating to children as consumers and reflected on questions such as how we can help ensure that children are informed and empowered as consumers.
Deputy Director Margaret Anderson attended a computer game industry briefing: ‘Connecting with Gaming Audiences’, held in Sydney, with a focus on games industry trends, forecasts and connecting with gaming audiences. This was followed by a panel discussion on the future of games with a focus on VR as well as how to engage a gaming audience through different forms of content across different channels.
The Australian International Movie Convention was held in Queensland during October 2015, and was attended by Ms Anderson, who had the opportunity to interact with local and international representatives from cinema exhibition, distribution, production, intellectual property rights and industry member organisations. The convention provided invaluable insights on upcoming movie trends and issues.
During the reporting period, the Board notes the release of the draft report of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a review announced by government to examine the objectives, function, structure, governance and resource base of the ACMA to ensure it remains fit-for-purpose for both the contemporary and future communications regulatory environment. The Classification Board made a submission to the review during the reporting period, provided feedback on the draft report, and looks to further engagement in the next stage of the review.
I would like to acknowledge and 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 welcome new full-time Board members Thomas Mann and Ellenor Nixon and thank Amanda Apel and Moya Glasson whose terms expired during this period.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the work and support provided to the Board by the staff of the Classification Branch. The commitment and high level support is greatly appreciated.
Classification Board profiles
Current Board members
APPOINTED 1 January 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 30 June 2017
APPOINTED 31 January 2011
Ms Lesley O’Brien, 49, 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.
APPOINTED 25 July 2013
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 24 July 2017
Ms Margaret Anderson, 50, 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; and Executive Officer and Registrar of the Serious Offenders’ Review Council. As Director, she led the development and implementation of numerous legislative reforms and as the Executive Officer and Registrar, she oversighted 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 aquarobics.
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2017
Ms Alison Bickerstaff, 36, 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.
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2017
Mr Ron Delezio, 63, 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 ROMAC. 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, while ROMAC brings children from the South Pacific region to Australia or New Zealand for lifesaving operations. Mr Delezio was awarded the 2006 Australian Father of the Year, and has also been named NSW Citizen of the Year, Swans Ambassador, World Youth Day Ambassador and Australia Day Ambassador.
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2017
Mr Jarrah Rushton, 40, 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.
APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 May 2019
Mr Thomas Mann, 33, 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.
APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 31 May 2019
Ms Ellenor Nixon, 25, 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.
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.
Ms Emma Ashton is a 46-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. She is currently a blogger.
Ms Ashton is involved in her local community through her children’s school and childcare centre, as well as being involved in other community groups. She is also involved in online communities and is in continual contact with a variety of people discussing a wide range of issues from all over Australia.
Ms Ashton worked 109 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
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 entities. Ms Burke is a mother of a four year old and is actively involved in the local community as a volunteer for a variety of youth groups.
Ms Burke worked 22 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Damien Carr, 28, 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 45 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Penny Colvin is 56 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. Her community work involves working and volunteering in a variety of areas, including supporting people with disabilities, in-home support for people with health and aged care needs plus increasing the awareness and opportunities for people with disabilities in the community. Ms Colvin also has a passion for hiking, travelling and the outdoors.
Ms Colvin worked 13 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Sophie Fletcher, 29, resides in inner Sydney. She holds an Advanced Diploma of Design for Live Production, Theatre and Events and is a freelance production designer.
She has worked in costume and set design for several film and theatre productions. Ms Fletcher previously worked in media as a retail manager for a news, opinion and lifestyle magazine, and as a child carer.
Ms Fletcher worked 14 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Jenny Fowler, 51, 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. Ms Fowler has a 21-year-old son and an 18-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.
Ms Fowler worked 71 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Dr Wayne Garrett, 62, 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 working in 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 168 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Geoff Geraghty, 62, has had an extensive and wide ranging career with the Australian military. He has been active within the community through various school associations and local community initiatives. He recently served as a community member with the NSW Bar Association. He has been involved with the Young Endeavour Youth Sail Training Scheme and the Australian Navy Cadets. Mr Geraghty is married with three adult children and one grandchild.
Mr Geraghty worked four days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16. His term with the Board concluded on 6 July 2015.
Mr Andrew Humphreys is 46 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 174 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
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. Adam is a father of three children.
Mr Hennessy worked 18 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Felix Hubble is 24 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 19 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Serena Jakob is 45 and, prior to joining the Classification Board, lived in Adelaide in South Australia. She grew up in a small community on the Eyre Peninsula and has a background in Cultural Anthropology and Education. Ms Jakob has worked in metropolitan, rural and remote communities throughout Australia. Ms Jakob has specialised in program development and ethnographic research for education projects based throughout remote indigenous communities.
From 2000, she has worked for the Department of Education and Children’s Services as part of Wiltja, a program that offers Aboriginal adolescents from the remote communities within the Pitjantjatjara Lands the opportunity to access mainstream secondary education in an urban setting. Ms Jakob has been a volunteer and committee member with a junior soccer association since 2002, where she was involved in organising soccer carnivals and coaching clinics for primary aged children. She has participated in numerous community arts events, particularly indigenous art and cultural festivals.
Ms Jakob enjoys learning about other cultures and has travelled extensively throughout Australia, North and Central America, Indonesia and Eastern Europe. Her interests include tennis, electronic music, technology, cycling, culture, travel and adventure.
Ms Jacob worked 22 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
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 49 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Lora Pechovska is 28 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 14 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Alan Miller is 56 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 various other roles as an adult educator in indigenous communities with the Northern Territory Department of Education.
Mr Miller worked 14 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Sharon Stockwell, 56, resides in inner Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Psychology) and a Post Graduate Diploma of Applied Hypnosis.
She is a registered psychologist currently presenting psychology-based workshops for an Employee Assistance Program provider, and as a consultant leadership development facilitator, executive coach and organisational psychologist. Ms Stockwell has provided psychology-related services to government tribunals, health services providers and large corporations.
Ms Stockwell worked 46 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Greg Randall, 55, has thirty-five 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 96 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Daniel Stoves, 25, resides in Sydney’s south. He has a Diploma of Digital and Interactive Games (Design, Programming and Art), and is currently working in the gaming community in a variety of roles. He has also worked in events management and as a civil draftsman for an architect design company.
Mr Stoves worked 24 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Mr Raphael Richards is 40 years old and lives in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. He recently relocated to Sydney having worked as a primary school teacher in Melbourne. Raphael has a Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies), a Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary).
He previously worked as an analyst for a publishing house and as a consultant for the Smarttraveller program, run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He is married and has one child at primary school. He enjoys participating in his local school community, music and cooking for his family.
Mr Richards worked 15 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
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 16 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Gabrielle Tenison, 26, has several years’ experience in the retail and hospitality industries, and is undertaking a business degree in Human Resources at university. Ms Tenison is an active member of the community, and is engaged in numerous not-for-profit organisations. She travelled to India in order to participate in aid work for a remote disadvantaged school, and assists an organisation that provides care and assistance to wheelchair-restricted adults. Ms Tenison is an avid traveller, and has traversed many parts of the globe, including South-East Asia, Europe and South America.
Ms Tenison worked 34 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
Ms Leanne Wilson-O’Connor, 42, works in the television industry, and previously worked for more than eleven 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 62 days as a temporary Board member during 2015–16.
New Board members
Two new full-time Classification Board members, Ms Ellenor Nixon and Mr Thomas Mann, were appointed to the Classification Board with effect from 1 June 2016.
Board members who left the Classification Board in 2015–2016
APPOINTED 6 April 2009
REAPPOINTED 6 April 2012
RESIGNED 1 September 2015
APPOINTED 3 April 2009
REAPPOINTED 3 April 2012
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 2 April 2015
There are statutory time limits for the making of classification decisions – 20 days for standard applications and five days for priority applications.
- The Classification Board made 3,777 classification decisions in 2015–16, including 3,718 commercial classification decisions, 37 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, and 22 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.
- No decisions exceeded the statutory time limit of 20 days for standard applications and five days for a priority application.
Timeliness of decisions
In 2015–16, 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)||522|
|Film (sale/hire) – ACA||230|
|Film (sale/hire) – ATSA||636|
|Publications (including serial declarations)||85|
|% of total||100|
Classification Board workload
In 2015–16, the Classification Board made 3,777 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
|Film (public exhibition)||522|
|Film (sale/hire) – ACA||230|
|Film (sale/hire) – ATSA||636|
|Serial publication declarations||9|
|Other decisions (not classification decisions)|
|Assessment of likely classification – film||43|
|Assessment of likely classification – computer games||0|
|Film festival exemptions||192*|
|Conditional cultural exemptions (6H)||2|
|Revocation of classification||431**|
|Decline to deal||2|
* This figure is for exemptions decisions made by the Director from 1 July to 10 September 2015. 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.
** The majority of revocations related to the Board’s role in auditing a sample of computer game apps rated during the pilot of the IARC tool (see page 40 for detailed explanation of IARC statistics).
Comparison with last year’s workload
Compared with the 2014–15 reporting period, the number of classification decisions:
- increased from 3,694 to 3,777 (an increase of two percent)
- decreased in all application categories except for film (sale/hire) which increased from 1,675 to 1,768 (an increase of six percent), ATSA scheme applications which increased from 535 to 636 (an increase of 19 percent), and ACA scheme applications which increased from 199 to 230 (an increase of 16 percent)
- decrease in standard classification decisions made for film (public exhibition) from 557 to 522 (a decrease of six percent), computer games from 514 to 477 (a decrease of seven percent), and publications/serial publication declarations from 187 to 85 (a decrease of 55 percent).
Despite the decrease in most application types, the strong increases in film (sale/hire), ATSA and ACA applications have delivered an overall increase of 2 percent.
Quality decision making
The Classification Board employs a number of practices and procedures to ensure quality of decision making:
- regular internal meetings are held to ensure issues on current standards are communicated and a forum is provided to debate and discuss classification standards and maintain a consistent approach to decision making;
- 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.
The Classification Board made 85 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 76 single issue publication classifications and nine serial declarations.
Table 03: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification
|Category 1 restricted||36|
|Category 2 restricted||3|
Table 04: Commercial (single issue) publications Refused Classification (RC) by reason
|Publications RC 1(a)||0|
|Publications RC 1(b)||1|
|Publications RC 1(c)||0|
|Publications RC 1(a) & 1(b)||1|
As indicated in Figure 01, 47 percent of single issue publications classified were Category one restricted, four percent were Category 2 restricted and 46 percent were Unrestricted. Two publications were classified RC.
Figure 01: Publication classification decisions
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
|Category 1 restricted||4|
|Category 2 restricted||0|
The Classification Board refused one serial classification declaration in 2015–16.
The Classification Board audits publications granted a serial classification declaration. In 2015–16, one publication had its serial classification revoked.
As indicated in Figure 02, 44 percent of all serial classification applications for declarations resulted in Category 1 restricted publications, 44 percent were Unrestricted publications and 11 percent were Refused Classification.
Figure 02: Serial publication classification declarations
Films classified for public exhibition
The Classification Board made 522 decisions on applications for the classification of commercial films for public exhibition.
Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition
As indicated in Figure 03, 76 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
Films classified for sale/hire
The Classification Board made 2,634 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
Table 08: Commercial films classified for sale/hire Refused Classification (RC) by reason
|Films RC 1(a)||0|
|Films RC 1(b)||1|
|Films RC 1(c)||0|
|Films RC 1(a) & 1(b)||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.
The Classification Board classified one commercial film for sale/hire RC. This represents 0.04 percent of the total number of the films for sale/hire submitted for classification.
Figure 04: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire (including ACA and ATSA)
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.
The Classification Board made 477 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 buts its decision may be informed by the assessor’s report and classification recommendation.
Table 09: Commercial computer games decisions by classification
Eighty-six 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)
Table 10: Commercial computer game applications Refused Classification (RC) by reason
|Games RC 1(a)||1|
|Games RC 1(b)||0|
|Games RC 1(c)||0|
|Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b)||1|
International Age Rating Coalition (IARC)
During the 2015–2016 financial year, Australia piloted the IARC tool. Under section 22CF of the Classification Act, these are deemed to be decisions of the Classification Board.
As part of the evaluation of the pilot, a total of 493 game audits of classification decisions made by the IARC tool were undertaken by the Classification Board, including 16 by request of the Director, Classification Board and 432 random audits from the full range of classification categories.
As part of this audit program, the Board revoked 312 classification decisions because the rating was incorrect. It revoked a further 118 classification decisions in order to adjust the consumer advice that had been generated by the tool.
Exemptions to show unclassified films and computer games
There is general information about exemptions in the overview of the National Classification Scheme on page 5.
From 1 July to 10 September 2015, the Director finalised 192 decisions for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films or computer games at film festivals and special film or computer game events. No films or computer games within these applications were refused an exemption. There were 1,058 finalised in the 2014–15 year.
On 11 September 2015, amendments to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 took effect that streamline and simplify the classification exemption arrangements for special events like film festivals and computer game 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, which provides further details on the exemptions, also took effect on 11 September 2015.
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 people trained by the Classification Branch, Department of Communications and the Arts, to assess the unclassified material for the exemption to apply.
A total of 471 festival events were registered with the classification portal since the amendments took effect on 11 September 2015 to the end of the 2015–16 reporting year.
The Classification Board did not receive any applications for approval of advertisements under section 29 of the Classification Act.
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 43 assessments of the likely classification of films and nil assessments of the likely classification of a computer game.
One publication had their serial classification declaration revoked under subsection 13(5) of the Classification Act during this reporting period.
Under the Classification Act, the Director may call in an unclassified film or computer game, a submittable publication or certain advertisements.
The Director called in two issues of one publication and one film for classification during the reporting period.
One of the distributors voluntarily agreed to withdraw the product from sale rather than submit it for call in. The other distributor notified that they were no longer trading and no longer held stock for sale.
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 22 classification decisions for enforcement applications made in the reporting period – 13 for publications, eight for film (sale/hire) and one for film (public exhibition). Two S87 certificates were issued.
There were no enforcement applications for computer games in 2015–16.
Table 11: Enforcement application decisions by agency
|Enforcement agency||Publications||Films||Section 87 certificates4||Total|
|Australian Federal Police||1||0||0||1|
|ACT Office of Fair Trading||0||0||0||0|
|Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading||12||0||0||12|
|Department of Immigration and Border Protection||0||0||0||0|
Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. Internet content is shown in tables 12 and 13.
Table 12: Internet content decisions by classification
Table 13: Internet content Refused Classification (RC) by reason
|Film RC 1(a)||2|
|Film RC 1(b)||0|
|Film RC 1(c)||1|
|Film RC 1(a) & 1(b)||10|
|Film RC 1(a) & 1(c)||1|
1 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).
2 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).
3 The reason for refusing a computer game classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).
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.
5 The reason for refusing a film classification refers to the relevant item of the National Classification Code (see Appendix).
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.
There are four classifications for publications – Unrestricted, Category 1 restricted, Category 2 restricted and RC Refused Classification.
The Guidelines for the Classification of Publications are used by the Classification Board when classifying publications. They explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category.
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 85 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publications. This figure includes nine serial publication declarations.
Out of the total of 85 classification decisions for publications, 35 single issue publications and four serial publications were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2015–16 included People and Penthouse.
Category 1 restricted
During the reporting period, of the total 85 publications classified (including nine serial publication declarations), 36 single issue publications and four 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 2015–16 included The Picture Premium.
Category 2 restricted
During the reporting period, of the total 85 publications classified (including nine serial publication declarations), three single issue publications were 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.
Titles of Category 2 restricted publications classified by the Board during 2015–16 included Private Erotic.
RC Refused Classification
Publications classified RC cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total 85 publications classified (including nine serial declarations), two publications were classified RC. The Classification Board refused one serial classification declaration in 2015-16.
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, eight 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, seven audits were undertaken. After failing an audit, one publication had their serial classification revoked during 2015–16.
Once a serial classification is revoked, the audited issue and all future issues become unclassified. The publisher must then submit each issue for classification, or apply for another serial classification declaration, before they can sell the publication.
If the 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.
Decisions for films were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Films (the Guidelines).
The Guidelines explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category. A number of principles underlie the use of the Guidelines, including the importance of context and assessing the impact of the six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity).
Out of the total of 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, 380 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. Popular G films classified during the reporting period included Wide Open Sky; Ice Age: Collision Course; Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie; The Will to Fly; Finding Dory; Loony Tunes 4D Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote; African Safari 3D.
The Will to Fly and Wide Open Sky are both Australian documentaries which received a G classification and consumer advice of ‘General’. The Will to Fly is about Australian Olympic freestyle aerial skiing champion, Lydia Lassila, as she strives to perform a quadruple twisting, triple somersault on skis. The film contains themes that have a very low sense of threat or menace and are justified by context in the form of footage of athletes injuring themselves during competition. Impact is mitigated by the events occurring sometime in the past, the various individuals’ full recovery, and the documentary context. Wide Open Sky was filmed in outback NSW, and follows the journeys of four primary school children who are selected to perform with the Moorambilla Voices choir at a large concert in Coonamble.
Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie is a Japanese anime film, with English subtitles, in which the Sohuku cycling team competes in the Kumamoto Hi Province Mountain Range Race. Despite coarse language being a classifiable element (it contained a single use of ‘heck’), the Board was of the opinion that the applicable consumer advice was ‘General’.
The latest instalment in the Finding Nemo franchise, Finding Dory, classified in 3D format, received consumer advice of ‘Some scenes may scare young children’, as a result of the impact of the situations encountered by the fish that present a very mild sense of peril. The theatrical feature film, Finding Dory, was preceded by an embedded short 3D animated film, titled Piper, about a young bird learning to feed.
With consumer advice of ‘Very mild themes and coarse language’, Ice Age: Collision Course, includes comedic scenes containing a very low sense of threat or menace, including a scene commencing at 71 minutes, when a leader of a flock of dino birds chasing the herd tells another bird to ‘kill’ Sid. However, the moment of menace is brief, and the dino birds soon join with the film’s heroes in their quest to save the Earth. The Board is of the opinion that, within this context, impact is mitigated to the extent that it does not exceed very mild and it can therefore be accommodated within the G classification with consumer advice of ‘Very mild coarse language’.
Out of the total of 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, 676 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 PG in the reporting period included: A Month of Sundays; Anne of Green Gables; Florence Foster Jenkins; Gayby Baby; Hail, Caesar!; Heidi; Love Punjab; Love the Coopers; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2; Roald Dahl’s The BFG; The Angry Birds Movie; The Jungle Book.
The most common consumer advice for films in the PG classification is ‘Mild themes’; for example, the English film, The Man Who Knew Infinity, tells the story of an impoverished Indian mathematical genius and his relationship with his Cambridge mentor. The thematic content includes: racism, suicide, war and serious illness.
A common pairing of consumer advice in this classification category is ‘Mild themes and coarse language’. For example, the comical New Zealand film, based on a story by novelist Barry Crump, Hunt for the Wilderpeople which follows the burgeoning relationship between a defiant young city kid and his grumpy foster father.
Similarly, in the French family film (with English subtitles), Belle et Sebastien L’aventure Continue, there are themes that have a low sense of threat and menace. In an extended scene, Sebastian, along with his beloved dog Belle, are trapped with others in a forest blaze. The film also includes mild coarse language. It was assigned consumer advice ‘Mild themes and coarse language’.
Hitchcock Truffaut, a documentary film based on original recordings of meetings between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut, and Truffaut’s subsequent 1966 book ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’, contains a single use of coarse language, spoken in the commentary. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Infrequent mild coarse language’.
Me Before You is a romantic drama set in a small English town in which a young woman falls in love with a quadriplegic man who she has been hired to care for. The classifiable elements in the film are its thematic content, verbal sexual references and coarse language. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mild themes, sexual references and coarse language’.
The American science-fiction comedy, Lazer Team, is about four small-town friends who stumble across an alien crash site containing a ‘battle suit’ and find themselves responsible for the fate of Earth. The classifiable elements are violence, sex and language that are mild in impact. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mild coarse language, science fiction violence and sexual references’. A modified version of the film, Lazer Team – Director’s Cutwas classified M with consumer advice of ‘Nudity’.
Pixels is a live-action film with computer generated imagery, in which young boys playing games at the arcade grow up and use their gaming skills to save the world from aliens. When intergalactic aliens discover a video of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as declarations of war, the Earth is attacked using video games such as Pac-man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders as their weapons. The film contains a number of classifiable elements which are reflected in its consumer advice, ‘Mild themes, violence, coarse language and sexual references’.
Zootopia is an animated children’s adventure film, classified in 3D format, in which a rookie police bunny and a street-smart fox team up to discover why some residents of the city of Zootopia are reverting to their pre-civilised predatory behaviour patterns. The film contains scenes depicting chase sequences that contain threat and menace, scenes of bullying, and predator animals which have reverted to primal, savage-like behaviour. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mild themes and threat, some scenes may scare young children’.
The M classification is the largest classification category for films.
Out of the total of 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, 1,281 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 M by the Classification Board during the reporting period included: 10 Cloverfield Lane; 45 Years; Absolutely Anything; Airlift; Boys in the Trees; Bridge of Spies; Brooklyn; Felix et Meira; Rosalie Blum; So, I married my Anti-Fan; Kaptaan; Te3n [sic]; The 5th Wave; The First Monday in May; The Lady in the Van; The Legend of Tarzan; The Martian; Noma My Perfect Storm; Rock the Kasbah; Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens; Suffragette.
Prison Songs is an Australian documentary musical that takes an inside look at Darwin then Berrimah Prison and its prisoners, who tell their lives and stories through song.
Putuparri and the Rainmakers centres on Putuparri Tom Lawford, an Aboriginal man living in Fitzroy Crossing, striving to keep his traditional culture alive and to help his people reclaim traditional land. It documents several national tours during which Putuparri and his family exhibit art, explaining its cultural significance, and make four journeys to Kurtal, a sacred waterhole in the Great Sandy Desert, where Putuparri’s grandfather shares his knowledge, passing it down through generations. The film also touches on issues of alcoholism and domestic violence. Both films have consumer advice of ‘Coarse language’.
Goldstone, the Australian outback noir crime thriller (the sequel to Mystery Road), sees an Aboriginal detective arrive in Goldstone, a remote mining town, to investigate a missing person report. This sets off a series of events that forces the local police officer and other community members to confront the ugly reality of the town’s corruption. Thematic content includes: suicide; female sex trafficking; and corruption and conspiracy in public office and the mining industry. Violence is most evident towards the climax of the film in a ‘shoot-out’ and includes post-action visuals of an implicitly dead man, face down on the ground with blood staining his shirt; and with another shot fired into a man, a small amount of blood is viewed spraying onto the side of an adjacent donga. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mature themes, violence and coarse language’.
The Dressmaker is a comedy-drama set in the 1950s that depicts the story of Tilly Dunnage, who returns from Europe to her hometown in rural Australia to care for her ill mother, from whom she was sent away at the age of 10 because of false accusations of murder. Tilly, an expert dressmaker trained in Paris, transforms the locals with her couture creations and in the process, exacts revenge on the people who wrongly accused her of murder all those years ago. In addition to themes, violence and coarse language, the film also contains sexual activity and sexual references that are discreetly implied and justified by context. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mature themes, violence, coarse language and sexual references’.
Backtrack is an Australian thriller-mystery, following the supernatural haunting of Peter Bower, a psychologist, whose patients are ghosts from his past. The haunting forces Peter to confront an ugly event from his teenage years, in order to ‘put things right’. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Supernatural themes and coarse language’.
The Boy is an American thriller about a nanny who is hired by a reclusive English couple to take care of their boy Brahms, who turns out to be a porcelain doll. When they leave her alone with the doll, mysterious events occur in the old house. The film has supernatural and suicide themes, focusing on a mysterious doll who appears to be a surrogate for a couple’s child who died in a fire. Throughout the film, events transpire that imply the doll is either alive or possessed by a spirit. The film also contains moderate violence including strangulation, punching and stabbing with several weapons. Owing to the darkness of the scenes and the lack of injury detail, the film was able to be accommodated within the M classification with consumer advice of ‘Supernatural themes and violence’.
Eye in the Sky is a UK political suspense thriller about the moral and political dilemma of drone warfare, in particular, risking the life of a nine-year-old girl during the military prosecution of a target house containing suicide bombers in Kenya. The film includes dramatisation of news footage of a male who has been executed. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Mature themes, violence and coarse language’.
Shout Gladi Gladi is a UK documentary about the treatment of obstetric fistula cases and other maternal health care issues in Sierra Leone. The film contains themes including poverty, maternal health care issues and surgical procedures, injury and death that have a moderate sense of threat or menace and are justified by context. The film also contains moderate violence that is justified by context. The two elements are, at times, inextricably linked within the documentary narrative of the film. In one scene, the narrator explains that a girl may have a fistula, caused by rape, and describes how the girl was taken into a room and raped by her uncle and another man. As a result of the assault she has also lost movement in her legs. In the Board’s opinion, despite being mitigated by the film’s documentary context, the treatment of themes and violence impart an impact that exceeds mild and could not be accommodated at the PG level. A classification of M was therefore warranted, with consumer advice of ‘Mature themes’ best describing the most impactful content.
How to Change the World is a documentary about the foundation of Greenpeace and the challenges faced by activists as the organisation expanded in the early 1970s. Themes including the hunting and slaughter of animals including whales and fur seals are raised within the narrative of the film. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Scenes of animal slaughter and coarse language’.
Where To Invade Next. [sic] is a documentary in which Michael Moore playfully ‘invades’ other nations in search of laws, policies and ways of life from which the USA can learn or adopt. The film includes two instances of full-frontal nudity, including a male and female entering a swimming pool, viewed at a mid-distant perspective with limited detail. The scene is naturalistic in tone and is brief in duration. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Coarse language and nudity’.
Films classified MA 15+ are not suitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category, which means that people under 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to attend, buy or hire a MA 15+ film. MA 15+ films contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity that have a strong impact.
Out of the total of 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, 756 films were classified MA 15+.
Films that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included: Black Mass; Chongqing Hot Pot; Dirty Grandpa; Grimsby; London Has Fallen; Legend; Mon Roi; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Ruben Guthrie; Sisters; Straight Outta Compton; The Bodyguard; The Boss; The Conjuring 2; The Revenant; Youth.
Inside Men is a South Korean film, with English subtitles, in which an ambitious prosecutor and a political henchman join forces to expose corruption. The film contains strong themes of blackmail and suicide that are justified by context, as well as violence and sex. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Strong themes, violence and sex’.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is an American comedic drama based on the true story of journalist Kim Barker, who decides to take an assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. The film contains use of coarse language that is strong in impact. The film depicts several post-action visuals of a drone strike to a vehicle convoy. The scene shows several people scattered around the blast site including a man in the foreground, lying on his back with his leg severed at the knee after an implied dismemberment from the blast. Other violence depicted in the film is able to be accommodated within a lower classification, however, the strong impact of the scene described above warranted an MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of ‘Strong coarse language and brief injury detail’.
Anomalisa is a stop-motion animation that follows a man who is crippled by the mundanity of his life, before meeting a woman who changes his perspective. While the film is animated in stop motion, it contains implied sexual activity that is strong in impact, depicted realistically and naturalistically. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Strong sex scene’.
The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is an American horror-comedy about three boy scouts who join forces with a tough cocktail waitress to save their once-peaceful town from a zombie invasion. The classifiable elements are violence and nudity that are strong in viewing impact. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Strong comedic horror violence and nudity’.
Tangerine is an American comedy which follows a transgender prostitute looking for her unfaithful boyfriend and pimp in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. The classifiable elements are sex, language, drug use and nudity that are strong in viewing impact, including a scene in which white crystal, implied to be crystal meth, is smoked. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Strong coarse language, sex scenes, nudity and drug use’.
Deadpool is an American parody of the superhero film genre, based on the Marvel Comics’ character of the same name. The film follows a former Special Forces operative who, in an effort to cure his cancer, is subjected to an experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, disfigured skin, and a dark, twisted sense of humour. Armed with these new abilities and a new identity, he hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. The classifiable elements are violence and sex that are strong in viewing impact. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Strong bloody violence and sex scene’.
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 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, 62 films were classified R 18+.
Films classified R 18+ during the reporting period included Chemsex; Excess Flesh; Green Room; Hardcore Henry; House on the Edge of the Park; Hyena; I Spit on your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine; Spy – Extended Version; Swearnet; The Hateful Eight.
Only the Dead is an Australian documentary film featuring footage and stories covered by Australian Time magazine war correspondent, Michael Ware, in Iraq following the ‘9/11’ atrocities. It shows graphic footage of his experiences with both American troops and Iraqi guerrilla insurgents, filmed over years of covering the war in the Middle East. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Graphic depictions of actual death, injury and execution’.
Respectable: The Mary Millington Story is a documentary about the British pornographic actress and model, Mary Millington. The film contains sexual activity that is realistically simulated and nudity that is high in impact. The sex and nudity are inextricably linked. As friends, family and former work colleagues discuss her life, still and video images of her work are screened. The film’s consumer advice is ‘High impact sex scenes and nudity’.
The Handmaiden is a South Korean period drama, set in the 1930s, that follows a Korean handmaiden, Sookee, who is employed by a wealthy Japanese heiress, Hideko, at her uncle’s countryside estate. Sookee has been recruited by a pseudo-Japanese Count to help him seduce the heiress and steal her fortune. However, an unexpected romance complicates the Count’s scheme. The film contains subtitles in English. The classifiable element is sex that is high in viewing impact. The depictions of sexual activity in the film have a narrative context. While the film contains scenes of explicit sex, the majority of the scenes of sexual activity are realistically implied or simulated. The film’s consumer advice is ‘High impact sex scenes’.
Love (classified in 3D) contains depictions of sexual activity that are realistically simulated or actual, and nudity, which are high in viewing impact. The film’s consumer advice is ‘Scenes of actual sexual activity, graphic nudity and sexual themes’.
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 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 2015–16.
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 3,156 commercial films classified in 2015–16, one commercial film was classified RC in the reporting period.
French Archives Volume 3 was classified RC in accordance with item 1(b) of the films table (clause 3) in the National Classification Code, for containing nudity that was not justified by context and which depicted persons who are, or appear to be, children under the age of 18 in a manner that is exploitative.
Decisions for computer games were made using the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games (the Guidelines).
The guidelines explain the different classification categories and the scope and limits of material suitable for each category. A number of principles underlie the use of the guidelines, including interactivity, the importance of context and assessing the impact of the six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity).
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. Popular G games classified during the reporting period included: Brave Tank Hero; Candle Man; Farming Simulator 16; FIM Speedway Grand Prix 15; Ginger: Beyond the Crystal; Lovely Planet, Race the Sun; Sparkle 2; Tumblestone.
Out of the total of 477 computer games classified in 2015–16, 136 computer games were classified G.
Armikrog is a stop-motion clay animation, point and click adventure game. Tommynaut and his dog Beak-Beak explore a mysterious tower called Armikrog in a fortress on another planet. The game contains themes that have a very low sense of threat or menace and are justified by context. Themes include, but are not limited to, very mild crude humour, animal predatory behaviour and supernatural events. The game contains online interactivity in the form of purchase and download. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Very mild themes and violence, online interactivity’.
Fruit Ninja VR is a virtual reality game where players enter a cartoon-like environment depicting the grounds of a Japanese temple and use dual hand-held controllers (represented on screen as samurai swords) to slice falling pieces of fruit. Spherical bombs also fall and can be hit (although the aim of the game is to avoid doing so), emitting clouds of grey smoke as they explode. Exploding bombs cause no damage to the player or the surrounding environment. The game contains online interactivity in the form of online leader boards. The game’s consumer advice is ‘General, VR and online interactivity’.
Micro Arcade Machine is a battery-powered handheld console in the shape of a miniaturised arcade machine that contains 220 in-built games selected from a menu that lists four different game types: sports, shooting, puzzle and arcade. The unit is controlled by an arcade-style joystick and two action buttons and contains an LCD screen that is approximately 5cm x 4cm. Impact is mitigated by the small size of the in-built LCD screen as well as by the heavily stylised, pixelated graphics of each game, intended to reproduce the 8-bit graphics of arcade games of the 1970s and 1980s. The game contains no online interactivity. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Some games contain very mild violence’.
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4 is a 2D action platform game in which the player takes the role of a Tasmanian tiger, with the aim of keeping the citizens of the fictional Australian town of Southern Rivers safe from Boss Cass and his minions. The game contains very low impact violence throughout. Combat is very low detail and 2D. Defeated enemies vanish quickly in a puff of smoke. The violence is mitigated by the game’s colourful, stylised graphics, light-hearted tone, and by the fact that all characters in the game are anthropomorphised animals. The game contains online interactivity in the form of online achievement lists and leader boards. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Very mild violence, online interactivity’.
Rocket League is a multi-platform futuristic sports game where players use rocket powered vehicles to play an enhanced version of soccer by driving their vehicles into a ball with the aim of scoring goals. The game is a successor to the 2008 game Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. The cars can drive, jump, flip, spin and rocket-boost to knock the ball into the opponent’s goal. The cars get power by driving over open fire pits that are placed throughout the playing field. When a goal is scored the soccer ball explodes into a fireball and smoke. The player can ram their opponents’ cars in a demolition derby style of play. There are no humans (except in the crowd), and no human injury is depicted. The game has online interactivity in the form of online tournaments and voice and text chat. The game’s consumer advice is ‘General, online interactivity’.
Games in this classification contain content that a child may find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of a parent or guardian. Games classified PG in the reporting period included: Adam’s Venture: Chronicles; Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack; Downwell; Heart&Slash[sic]; Monkey King Saga; Ninja Pizza Girl; Ratchet & Clank; Space Overlords; Ziggurat.
Out of the total 477 computer games classified in 2015–16, 149 computer games were classified PG.
Armello is a role-playing adventure game in which players navigate an animated board game depicting a medieval kingdom, in an attempt to become the next queen or king of Armello. Players select an anthropomorphic ‘hero’ from one of four animal clans and navigate around different locations such as forests, villages and ruins. The kingdom is depicted in a cartoonish animation style, with the board game nature of the environment enhanced by the isometric perspective employed. In addition to battling other player’s characters, the player must occasionally fight NPC’s such as ‘Banes’, demonic birds that often populate ruins in the game. The impact of the themes and violence in the game is mitigated by the fantastic, anthropomorphic characters, the cartoonish graphics, the turn-based nature of the combat and the stilted animation style in which the battles are depicted. The game has online interactivity in the form of multiplayer modes. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild fantasy violence, online interactivity’.
Assault Android Cactus is an arcade-style shooter in which Junior Constable Cactus, a police android in deep space, has to team up with other androids to battle malfunctioning robots on an interplanetary super carrier. Players must utilise primary and secondary weapons to destroy malfunctioning robots that threaten the Genki Star space ship. Weapons include laser-guns, flamethrowers, rail-guns and black-hole generators; all are over-the-top and cartoonish. The impact of the violence is mitigated by the science fiction setting and the stylised, cartoonish nature of the action. The game contains online interactivity in the form of leader boards. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild science fiction violence, online interactivity’.
Minecraft Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place is a puzzle/action/adventure game in which the player assumes the role of Jesse, a teenager obsessed with the legends of The Order of the Stone — four heroes who previously conquered the Ender Dragon. Gameplay consists of navigating interactive dialogue, solving environmental puzzles and battling enemies that include zombie-like creatures and monsters. For the most part, themes and violence are rendered as the player character, Jesse, battles enemies that include spiders, zombies, skeletons, golems and other monsters, striking them with a sword and causing them to flash red and then disappear in a pixelated puff of white smoke. A low sense of threat and menace is imparted as the player encounters these fantasy characters and avoids environmental hazards and traps such as pits. The game’s light tone, fantasy setting, highly stylised pixelated blocky graphics and the lack of blood or realistic injury depictions, combine to mitigate the impact imparted by themes and violence. The game contains infrequent use of mild coarse language that is justified by context. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild fantasy themes, violence and coarse language’.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is a 2D side-scrolling platform game in which the player takes the role of Shantae, a female Guardian Genie, with the aim of protecting the fictional realm of Scuttle Town from the female pirate captain, Risky Boots. The game uses intentionally stylised pixelated graphics and is structured in linear levels, requiring the player to battle enemies and monsters, solve puzzles and avoid traps. Still screens of Shantae and Risky Boots appear between levels and during character dialogue sequences. The characters are dressed in sexually suggestive outfits, with brief bikini tops and bare midriffs. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild fantasy violence and sexualised imagery’.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a single-player action-adventure game in which the player must defeat enemies and navigate obstacles to ascend to the top of a tower. The game is presented as if it is the DVD release of an old 1950s sci-fi B-grade film, with accompanying director’s commentary. The director narrates the game’s action as it occurs, commenting on the ‘actors’ and how the ‘movie’ was made. Some of the comments involve mild crude humour. Players’ characters can either perform a melee attack or use ranged weapons such as laser guns to fight back. Enemies flash red when hit and then fall over and vanish when defeated; no blood or wound detail is viewed. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild violence and crude humour’.
Typoman is a 2D side-scrolling platform/puzzle game in which the player takes the role of a small anonymous hero in a surreal game world constructed of letters and words. The player must navigate puzzles and overcome obstacles, using letters to alter the environment, in an attempt to find the hero’s missing arm, which has been stolen by an evil demon. The game contains supernatural/fantasy themes, making use of a dark colour palette, ominous music and sound effects to create a mild sense of threat that permeates the game. The game environment includes desolate industrial landscapes, falls, fire hazards, poison clouds and traps the player must navigate, and the player rearanges letters to solve puzzles. The player must navigate traps including spiked platforms which can fall and crush the Hero character. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mild threat, supernatural themes and violence’.
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 477 computer games classified in 2015–16, 126 computer games were classified M.
Computer games classified M by the Board during the reporting period included: Act of Aggression; Battleborn; Dead Island Retro Revenge; Fire Emblem Fates (Birthright, Conquest, Revelation); Nights of Azure; Oxenfree; Paragon; Prison Architect; Sheltered; The Escapists: The Walking Dead; The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II; Verdun; Year Walk.
Crookz – The Big Heist is a tactical strategy game set in the 1970s with a narrative concerning a team of master thieves who unite to take revenge on a former comrade who had betrayed them. Within this context the player plans and carries out ‘heists’, utilising the specific skills of individual team members. The elements of themes and violence are inextricably linked within gameplay that involves planning and carrying out heists. Viewed from a ¾ top-down perspective, the player positions chosen team members in a targeted facility, for example a museum or a private residence. Each team member has a specific skill and role. For example, Rufus ‘knocks out’ guards, another character picks locks, and another, a contortionist, is able to access rooms by manoeuvring through ventilation shafts. The player plans routes, avoiding security cameras and other deterrents, and utilises the skills of team members to successfully carry out the heist. Given context, the Board is of the opinion that consumer advice of ‘Crime themes’ appropriately describes the most impactful content and subsumes the element of violence. The game’s online capability takes the form of access to leaderboards, which allows players to compare high scores when playing missions in Challenge Mode. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Crime themes, online interactivity’.
Zenith is an RPG set in a fantasy world populated by unorthodox characters balancing storytelling, action and exploration, as well as combat. Use of humour and parody is entwined in the textual dialogue. The main character is Argus who is a wizard and fights his enemies using combat magic. Adversaries use swords and melee weapons. The game contains use of coarse language. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Coarse language’.
Inside is a side-scrolling adventure game in which the player controls a boy attempting to escape a mysterious research facility, in which strange human experiments appear to be taking place. The boy is pursued by guards and dogs while interacting with the environment in order to progress through the facility. When the boy is caught, he is implicitly killed, either by guards choking him or dogs biting him. The impact of the themes and violence in the game is mitigated by the simplistic animation style and the basic nature of the gameplay. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Mature themes and violence’.
Overwatch is a team-based combat multiplayer first-person shooter game set on a futuristic Earth. The player can select from 21 characters and play on any one of eight maps. The gameplay consists of team-based fighting between heroes comprised of humans, animals and robots. When players are killed, they collapse upon death but quickly re-spawn after seeing their death from the perspective of the player who killed them in a mode called ‘Kill Cam’. Blood spray is clearly shown during impact, but there is no gore or post-mortem damage depicted. The frequent violence is heavily mitigated by the game’s highly stylised cartoon-like graphics. The game includes online interactivity in the form of online multiplayer matches, text and voice chat. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Violence, online interactivity’.
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 that have a strong impact.
Out of the total of 477 computer games classified in 2015–16, 51 computer games were classified MA 15+.
Computer games that were classified MA 15+ during the reporting period included: 7 Days to Die; Assassin’s Creed Syndicate; Goat Simulator: Nightmare Edition; Life is Strange; Mordheim: City of the Damn; The Old Hunters DLC; The Park; The Walking Dead Michonne: In Too Deep.
Fallout 4 is a first-and-third-person open world, post-apocalyptic action RPG set in a fictionalised version of Massachusetts, in the year 2287. Gameplay is a mix of role-playing style exploration and character interaction experienced through 1st and 3rd person combat with firearms, explosives and melee weapons. The player and his/her spouse and son are accidently cryogenically frozen in a fallout shelter called Vault 111, after nuclear war breaks out. During their time in the vault, the player’s spouse is killed and the son is kidnapped. After leaving the shelter, the player is free to explore the game world focussing on learning who killed their spouse and who kidnapped their son so that they can ultimately rescue the son from his captors. The game contains depictions of violence as the player attacks his enemies with a range of projectiles, explosives or melee weapons such as shotguns, Gatling-type machine guns, baseball bats, knives, flamethrowers, and various science fiction weaponry. The player’s attacks on his enemies typically result in highly stylised 3D blood splatters onto the surrounding environment and residual blood detail on the wounded area. The impact of the violence is mitigated by the highly stylised blood effects, the exaggerated graphics and the hyper-real post-apocalyptic environment. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Strong violence’.
Hitman is a third-person shooter game for the PS4. The player must complete missions by killing his target which are all other humans. Typical game play sees Agent 47 walking, observing and following instructions that will get him to his target. Along the way, he kills other NPCs to take their disguises, to progress him in his mission. He kills using firearms, explosives, knives, and wire. Agent 47 can also make the assassination look like an accident by poisoning drinks and food. The blood detail includes blood bursts and seepage when firearms are used to kill, blood-coloured bullet wounds are also viewed on the chest, abdomen and forehead where a bullet has entered the target. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Strong violence and coarse language, online interactivity’.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a modified ‘mobile’ version of the game for iPad of the third-person shooter/action game in which the player assumes the role of Toni Cipriani who, having been forced into hiding for killing a man, returns to Liberty City, now riddled with gang turf-wars and political unrest, to secure his place as a leader of the Leone family. The original version of the game was designed exclusively for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and had consumer advice for ‘Strong violence and coarse language’. The modifications to this version of the game included implied sexual activity. Toni is able to pick-up prostitutes in his stolen vehicles, drive them to an isolated location, such as a car-park, and implicitly have sex. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Strong violence, sex and coarse language’.
Resident Evil 6 is a survival horror/shooter game which is a modified re-release of the same title for newer consoles. Modifications take the form of enhanced graphics, multiplayer modes and previously released downloadable content. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Strong horror violence and nudity, online interactivity’.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege is a squad-based tactical first-person shooting game with multiplayer and single-player game modes. The single-player mode (‘Terrohunt’) requires players to recruit members to form an elite counter-terrorism unit and perform various counter-terrorism missions around the world. The multiplayer mode matches teams of players to compete in various objectives (such as attacking or defending a particular area). The game contains online interactivity in the form of multiplayer matches, voice chat and downloadable content. Blood spray and blood splatter are used to depict injury and point of impact when shooting. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Strong violence, online interactivity’.
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 477 computer games classified in 2015–16, 13 computer games were classified R 18+.
Computer games classified R 18+ during the reporting period included: Dying Light: The Following; Mortal Kombat XL; Senran Kagura Estival Versus; The Technomancer; This War of Mine: The Little Ones; Until Dawn.
The Walking Dead Michonne: What We Deserve is a third-person adventure game and sequel to The Walking Dead Michonne: In Too Deep, and The Walking Dead Michonne: Give No Shelter. It is a narrative-driven horror adventure game based on The Walking Dead comic book series. Michonne and others engage in violence against both zombies and human characters in order to survive, often resulting in visual depictions including blood and injury detail accompanied by realistic sound effects. Although the impact of violence is somewhat mitigated by the game’s highly stylised, animated graphics, the game contains a frequency of often gratuitous bloody violence that exceeds strong in impact. The impact of the violence is heightened by the nature of much of it being human characters committing violent acts against other humans, as well as against inhuman enemies such as zombies. The game’s consumer advice is ‘High impact horror violence’.
Gal*Gun Double Peace is a Japanese anime-style, rail shooter. Players control Hodai, who has been shot by cupid and must fend off girls, using a pheromone shot, while seeking his true love. There are boss fights and the ability to unlock outfits which can be used in a separate game mode. Much of the game is in Japanese with little translation. The game contains simulated sexual activity, for example, a female character is stuck to the floor and the playing character is required to click stars that appear around her body, including near her groin and breast. The playing character moves the controls, up and down, in first-person, as the female moans and tilts her hips up and down implying sexual intercourse. The player must fill a reward metre at the side of the screen and upon completing the tasks assigned, besides receiving an in-game sexual reward, is given a trophy and a ranking for performance. As the sexual activity is related to incentives and rewards it must be classified R 18+. The game’s consumer advice is ‘Sexual activity related to incentives and rewards’.
A modified version of the previously classified game, Grand Theft Auto V, was also classified R 18+. It is an open world action-adventure game set in the fictional US city of Los Santos. It follows three protagonists who plan and execute a number of high-stake heists as well as engage in a range of leisure activities. An earlier version of this game had been classified R18+ (with consumer advice of ‘High impact themes and drug use’) in 2014. In the Board’s opinion, the Rockstar Editor/Director’s Mode, which enables the player to create customised video footage by recording gameplay then utilising a variety of editing tools, extends the player’s interactivity with the gaming experience which heightens the impact of violence depicted in the game. This can be accomplished, for example, by altering context, by repetitive depictions of violence, by employing multiple camera angles and by zooming in on injury and blood effects. The game’s consumer advice is ‘High impact themes, drug use, violence and sex, online interactivity’.
Doom is a first-person shooting game, the fourth instalment of the Doom franchise, in which the player takes the role of an unnamed space marine investigating supernatural activity on a military base on Mars, where scientists have opened a portal to Hell. The player must battle a range of demonic creatures. Kills are accompanied by generous blood effects, including blood spurts and splatters, and ‘gibbing’, as viscera and body parts trail across the screen as a result of direct hits on enemies from rockets and grenades. The game contains online interactivity in the form of cooperative and competitive multiplayer matches. The game’s consumer advice is ‘High impact violence, blood and gore, online interactivity’.
RC Refused Classification
In 2015–16, out of the total of 477 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: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death; and Paranautical Activity.
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is a dungeon crawler RPG for PlayStation Vita, which uses a system of pairing mages with robot-like guardians in order to battle. In the opinion of the Board, this game warranted an RC classification in accordance with items 1(a) and (b) of the computer games table (clause 4) in the National Classification Code. This game features five main female characters including Connie who is underdeveloped physically (such as the hips), is significantly shorter than the other characters and wears her hair in pigtails. She also has a child-like voice, wears colourful child-like clothing and appears naive in her outlook on life. She is also referred to as a ‘girl’ by the other main characters who are all adult like. In the Board’s opinion, the character of Connie depicts a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18.
The game features use of the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreen feature that allows the player to touch or run their finger across the touchscreen in order to make any female character’s breasts move in response. Within the character menu, the player can also touch the head, hips and legs of a character and a voice clip plays in reaction.
In the Board’s opinion, the ability to interact with the character Connie in the manner described above constitutes a simulation of sexual stimulation of a child. Therefore the computer game depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex (in this case, a fantasy of sexual stimulation of a child) that is offensive or abhorrent in such a way that it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. As the fantasy involves a child-like character, the computer game also 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.
Paranautical Activity is, largely, a first-person shooter, challenging players to progress through eight levels of randomly generated combat rooms. In the opinion of the Board, this game warranted an RC classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table (clause 4) in the National Classification Code.
By completing designated achievements, the player ‘unlocks’ a variety of items that will assist in advancing through the levels. Once unlocked, the items can be purchased with in-game currency or the player will receive them as a reward for defeating the main bosses of a level.
One of the achievements, titled ‘Addicted’, is earned when the player successfully spends all their money gambling. ‘Addicted’ unlocks the item ‘Adderall’ which is depicted as a blue tablet and described as a ‘speed up’. Although the player is not visually depicted consuming the tablet, its use is implicit by the presence or absence of a blue tablet icon in the player’s inventory and by the rewarded increase in speed that assists in advancing through a level.
Adderall is the brand name of a real-world prescription drug known to be used recreationally and illicitly as a stimulant. It is also known to be addictive. It contains the substance Dexamphetamine, a proscribed drug as specified in Schedule 4 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.
In the Board’s opinion, the direct textual reference to the use of a proscribed drug, particularly one known to be highly addictive and currently of concern within the community, and the game’s treatment of drug use as both a reward and an incentive within gameplay, warrants the game being Refused Classification for ‘illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards’.
During the reporting period, the Classification Board classified 37 items containing internet content items. These applications were made by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (eSafety). In the reporting period, 15 items of internet content were Refused Classification (see here for a breakdown of statistics).
The following items are examples of internet content that was classified by the Board during the reporting period.
One item submitted for classification consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website embedded within a PNG-file containing a central article, framed by text and images that were largely anti-Semitic in nature. In the opinion of the Board, despite what appeared to be a satirical treatment of such material, the content imparted a high impact and may be offensive to sections of the adult community. The Board classified the content R 18+ pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
Another item consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website embedded within an 18-page PDF document containing a text-only blog post regarding autism. The blog posts included very strong coarse language, as well as frequent and aggressive use of strong coarse language. The Board classified the content MA 15+ pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
Another item consisted of what appeared to be a page from a website embedded within a two-page PDF document about allegedly lawful alternatives to proscribed drugs. While the substances themselves may be legal, verbal and visual references to proscribed drugs were made by way of description and comparison. In the Board’s opinion, the depictions of drug-like substances and references to drug use over the course of the content imparted a moderate impact. The Board classified the content M pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
The Classification Board seeks to reflect current community standards in its decision making and feedback from the community is informative and helpful.
During the 2015–16 reporting period, the Classification Board received 244 complaints, a reduction of 13% when compared to the previous period. A breakdown of complaints by category is as follows:
- Two complaints about decisions for publications;
- 205 complaints about decisions for films;
- 32 complaints about decisions for computer games; and
- Five 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 computer games – 32 for this financial year as compared to 127 for the previous financial year (a reduction of 74%).
The Classification Board made 85 classification decisions for publications in the reporting period (this included eight serial publication declarations).
Two complaints were received about publications during 2015–16. These were about the availability of magazines Zoo Weekly; People; and Picture.
The Classification Board made 3,156 classification decisions for films in 2015–16 and received 205 complaints about the classifications of films. This compares with 113 complaints in 2014–15. Films which attracted the most complaints were Daddy’s Home; Deadpool; Pixels; and Dirty Grandpa.
There were 99 complaints about the film Daddy’s Home. The complainants were of the view that the PG classification, with consumer advice ‘Mild crude humour, sexual references and coarse language’, was too low and inappropriate for children.
The film Deadpool, which was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice ‘Strong bloody violence and sex scenes’, attracted 18 complaints in the reporting period. The complainants believed the film’s classification was too low due to the depictions of sex and violence in the film.
Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles.
The Classification Board made 477 classification decisions for computer games in 2015–16 and received 32 complaints about computer games. Computer games which attracted the most complaints were Call of Duty: Black Ops III; Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number; and MEIQ: Labyrinth of Death.
The Classification Board received 11 complaints about the computer game Call of Duty: Black Ops III which is classified R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘High impact violence, online interactivity’. The complainants expressed the view that the R 18+ classification was too high.
There were four complaints about the computer game Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number being Refused Classification (RC). On 14 January 2015 the Board classified Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Refused Classification (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.
There were also five complaints that covered classification related issues.
The majority of the complaints were in relation to the classification to 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
|Computer games decisions||32|
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.
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2015–16
Convenor’s letter of transmittal
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP
Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
CANBERRA ACT 2600
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 2015 to 30 June 2016.
21 September 2016
Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240
Telephone 02 9289 7100 Facsimile 02 9289 7101 www.classification.gov.au
The Classification Review Board is an independent statutory body that reviews, on application, decisions of the Classification Board. The Review Board makes its decisions in accordance with the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code and the classification guidelines.
This report includes an overview of the work of the Review Board in 2015–16.
The Review Board received secretariat support from the Classification Branch.
During the 2015–2016 reporting period, the Review Board received three applications for Review. These applications were for the films Blinky Bill The Movie, X-Men: Apocalypse and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
The classification of Blinky Bill The Movie was reviewed on 10 September 2015. StudioCanal Pty Ltd applied for the review. The Classification Review Board overturned the PG classification decision of the Classification Board and unanimously classified the film G with consumer advice of ‘Some scenes may scare very young children’.
On 16 May 2016, the Review Board convened to review the film X-Men: Apocalypse. The application was submitted by Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors. The Classification Review Board unanimously classified the film M with consumer advice ‘Frequent action violence and infrequent coarse language’.
On the 7 June 2016, the Review Board convened to Review the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Paramount Pictures applied for the review. The Classification Review Board unanimously classified the film PG with consumer advice ‘Fantasy Violence’.
I would like to thank the Review Board members for their professionalism and dedication during 2015–16. I would also like to welcome Ms Susan Knowles and Mr Richard Williams who were both appointed to the Review Board as members during this reporting period.
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.
Classification Review Board profiles
Current Board members
APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 30 June 2017
Ms Fiona Jolly, 48, 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 eight to sixteen 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.
APPOINTED: 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 30 June 2017
Mr Peter Attard, 48, 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 curriculum 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 football and travel.
APPOINTED: 7 December 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 30 June 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.
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.
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.
APPOINTED: 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 30 June 2017
Ms Susan (Sue) Knowles, 65, resides in Perth, Western Australia. Sue 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 dealing with health care, aged care, Aboriginal heath, welfare and other related matters.
Ms Knowles is currently a chairman 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.
APPOINTED: 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 30 June 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 Girls Grammar.
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.
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|
|Blinky Bill The Movie||Film||StudioCanal Pty Ltd||10 September 2015||pg||g|
|X-Men: Apocalypse||Film||Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors||16 May 2016||MA 15+||m|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows||Film||Paramount Pictures||7 June 2016||m||pg|
Attendance at Review Board meetings
The Review Board convened for three days in 2015–16 to deal with three separate applications.
Table 16: Attendance at Review Board meetings
|Review Board member||Meetings 2015–16||Number of meeting days 2015–16|
|Fiona Jolly (FJ), Acting Convenor, ACT||2||2|
|Peter Attard (PA), VIC||3||3|
|Peter Price (PP), NSW||2||2|
|Richard Williams (RW),QLD||3||3|
|Susan Knowles (SK), WA||1||1|
The Review Board received one complaint about its decisions in the reporting period. The complaint was that the classification for the film X-Men Apocalypse was too low.
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.
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.
Publications are to be classified in accordance with the following table:
|Item||Description of publication||Classification|
|2||Publications (except RC publications) that:
||Category 2 restricted|
|3||Publications (except RC publications and Category 2 restricted publications) that:
||Category 1 restricted|
|4||All other publications||Unrestricted|
Films are to be classified in accordance with the following table:
|Item||Description of film||Classification|
|2||Films (except RC films) that:
|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|
Computer games are to be classified in accordance with the following table:
|Item||Description of computer game||Classification|
|1||Computer games that:
|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|
|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 Attorney-General’s Department. 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
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
|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 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|
|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
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
|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||A cooperative 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)|
|Prohibited Imports Regulations||Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 made under section 50 of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth); Regulation 4A relates to the importation of publications (including films and computer games and other goods)|
Category 1 restricted
Category 2 restricted
Not available to persons under 18 years
Not available to persons under 18 years
|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 developing a national and trans-Tasman focus on fighting crime and promoting best practice in law, criminal justice and community safety. The LCCSC consists of ministers with responsibilities for law and justice, police 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|