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National Classification Scheme

The National Classification Scheme is a cooperative arrangement between the Australian Government (the Commonwealth) and state and territory governments. It was created by the Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship.

Ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories oversee the Scheme. The National Classification Code and guidelines for the classification of films, computer games and publications must be agreed to by all ministers. These provide the principles and criteria for making classification decisions.

The role of the Commonwealth

Commonwealth law establishes the Classification Board and Classification Review Board and sets out their responsibilities and procedures for decision making.

The Commonwealth classification minister is the Minister for Communications.

The role of the states and territories

State and territory governments make laws about how films, computer games, and publications can be distributed, shown and advertised. The laws can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

State and territory police enforce these laws.

State and territory classification Ministers are usually Attorneys-General or Ministers for Justice.

Commonwealth legislation

The national scheme is implemented through the Commonwealth Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995.

The Act is supplemented by a number of regulations, determinations and legislative instruments which include:

Online content is regulated in Australia by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

State and territory legislation

Each state and territory has classification enforcement legislation to complement the Commonwealth Classification Act. The legislation sets out how films, publications and computer games can be sold, hired, exhibited and advertised in each state or territory. Some states and territories have reserved classification powers.

Australian Capital Territory

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Act 1995

New South Wales

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995


Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Enforcement) Act 1995


Classification of Computer Games and Images Act 1995

Classification of Films Act 1991

Classification of Publications Act 1991

South Australia

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995

Western Australia

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996


Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995

Northern Territory

Classification of Publications, Films and Computer Games Act

Classification of Publications, Films and Computer Games Regulations

Classification tools

The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 provides ministerial authority to approve classification tools for classifying films, computer games or publications in Australia, taking into account the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Approval of Classification Tools) Guidelines 2014.

A classification tool may take the form of a questionnaire, a computer program or other mechanism which allows a person to provide information about the content of a film, computer game or publication and the tool generates (for example via an algorithm) a classification decision.

Classification decisions produced by approved tools are deemed to be decisions of the Australian Classification Board and are published on the Australian National Classification Database at

The Classification (Approved Classification Tools) (Application for Revocation of Classification) Determination 2015 sets out rules for applying to the Classification Board to revoke a classification rating made by an approved classification tool. Two classification tools are currently approved for use in Australia:

  • The Global Rating Tool for the classification of mobile and online games on participating storefronts; and
  • The Netflix Classification Tool for the classification of original films and series on the Australian Netflix service.

Global Rating Tool

The International Age Ratings Authority (IARC) is a partnership of leading computer game ratings authorities from around the world including the United States, Canada, Europe, Brazil, South Korea and Australia.

The Global Rating Tool was developed by IARC in partnership with these ratings authorities and was approved for use in Australia in 2015. The Global Ratings Tool classifies mobile and online computer games on participating storefronts including Google Play, the Microsoft Store, the Nintendo e-Shop, Oculus Store and Sony PlayStation Store.

Netflix Classification Tool

The Netflix Classification Tool was developed by Netflix to generate classification decisions for content streamed on its Australian service and was approved for use in Australia.

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