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Classification Board and Classification Review Board Annual Reports 2018-19

October 2019
Annual report

© Commonwealth of Australia 2019
ISSN 1327-6182

This Annual Report 2018–19 is protected by copyright.

With the exception of third party material, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and any material contained within which is protected by trademark, all material included in this Annual Report 2018–19 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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

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

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

Other use

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

Contact details

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

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

Postal address:
Locked Bag 3, HAYMARKET NSW 1240

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

Introduction

This report includes the reports of the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board. A copy of this report is available online at www.classification.gov.au, as are Annual Reports from previous years.

Information about the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board is also available on the Australian Classification website at www.classification.gov.au.

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 2018–19 at
www.communications.gov.au.

Overview of the National Classification Scheme

The National Classification Scheme (the Scheme) is a co-operative scheme established and maintained by agreement between the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments in Australia. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship that was executed in 1995 underpins the Scheme.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) (the Classification Act), provides for a National Classification Code (the Code) and Classification Guidelines for films, computer games and publications (the Guidelines). The Classification Board (the Board) makes decisions about films, computer games and certain publications. The Board is independent from government. The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) is an independent statutory body responsible for reviewing certain decisions of the Classification Board. The Review Board is independent of both the Board and the Government.

The states and territories are responsible for regulating the sale, exhibition and advertising of classifiable content. Each state and territory has its own classification Act that is enforced by state or territory police or law enforcement bodies. There are some offence provisions in the Commonwealth Classification Act which are part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory legislation package (formerly known as the Northern Territory Emergency Response) as well as offences regarding the unlawful use of markings in relation to goods other than films, computer games or publications.

Commonwealth

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

The Classification Act establishes the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board (collectively, the Boards). The Boards are independent from government and from each other. The Classification Act requires that, in appointing members of the Boards, 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:

  • powers and functions of the Boards
  • statutory criteria for review of classification decisions
  • powers of the Minister responsible for the administration of the Classification Act to approve classification tools to generate decisions and consumer advice
  • the assessor schemes that enable industry to self-classify content and submit their classification recommendations to the Board
  • statutory requirements for applications for classification
  • rules regarding exemption from classification of unclassified films, computer games and certain publications
  • requirements for advertising of films, computer games and publications
  • provisions for the approval of advertisements for certain products
  • provisions for reclassification, and handling prohibited material in prohibited material areas.

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

There is a range of determinations, instruments and principles made under the Classification Act available online at www.classification.gov.au or www.legislation.gov.au.

When making decisions, Boards apply the Classification Act, the Code, and the three statutory Guidelines.

National Classification Code

The Boards must make classification decisions in accordance with the Code which broadly describes the classification categories. The Code is agreed to by Commonwealth, state and territory ministers with responsibility for classification. The Code is available in the Appendix at page 98.

Classification guidelines

The Guidelines are used by the Boards 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 Guidelines are approved by all ministers with responsibility for classification.

States and territories

As partners in the Scheme, each state and territory has classification legislation that complements the Commonwealth Classification Act. The legislation sets out how films, publications and computer games can be sold, hired, exhibited, advertised and demonstrated in that jurisdiction. It prescribes penalties for classification offences and provides for enforcement of classification decisions. Some states and territories retain powers to classify or reclassify material: South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have legislated concurrent classification powers, and they have also reserved the power to reclassify publications, films and computer games already classified by the Classification Board: the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (SA) s 17; the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (Tas) s 41A; and the Classification of Publications, Films and Computer Games Act 1995 (NT) s 16.

Other functions

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

Exemptions to show unclassified content

Under the Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules, event organisers self-assess their eligibility for exemption to exhibit unclassified films, computer games and certain publications. If they comply with the standard conditions, event organisers can 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 an Approved Cultural Institution (ACI). An ACI is not required to register its events but instead undertakes training provided by the Classification Branch or Board. 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.

Assessor schemes

Several schemes have been established that enable authorised industry assessors to submit content for classification. Under the schemes, the Classification Board is still responsible for the decision, which is informed by the assessor’s report.

Applications for classification may be lodged under the following voluntary assessor schemes:

Authorised Assessor Scheme for Computer Games (AACG)

The Director of the Classification Board may authorise trained persons to recommend the classification for a computer game.

An authorised assessor may submit an application recommending the classification and consumer advice for a computer game if the computer game is likely to be classified G (General), PG (Parental Guidance) or M (Mature). The Classification Board may accept or vary the recommendation.

Additional Content Assessor (ACA) Scheme

The Director of the Classification Board may authorise trained persons to assess additional content which accompanies a previously classified or exempt film released for sale or hire. Additional content includes material such as “making of” documentaries, out-takes and commentaries or interviews with the director or actors and does not include television programs, series or computer games.

An authorised assessor may submit an application recommending the classification and consumer advice for the additional content. The Classification Board may accept or vary the recommendation.

Authorised Television Series Assessor (ATSA) Scheme

The Director of the Classification Board may authorise trained persons to assess films that consist of one or more episodes of a television series, as well as any series-related content. 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). An authorised assessor may submit an application recommending the classification and consumer advice for the series and related additional content. The Classification Board may accept or vary the recommendation.

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.

The primary condition is that advertising for unclassified films and computer games must display the message “Check the Classification” (or “CTC” in its shortened form).

Check the Classification

For certain forms of advertising, once a film or computer game is classified, the “Check the Classification” or “CTC” message must be replaced with the classification marking.

Prior to classification, however, trailers/advertisements for unclassified films and games may be advertised with films or games that have already been classified, provided that an assessment of the likely classification of the film or game has been made either by the Classification Board or by a trained advertising assessor employed by industry. Once this assessment has been made, the “commensurate audience” rule becomes applicable. This means that the trailers/advertisements for unclassified films and games may only be advertised with content of the same or higher classification. For example, if there is an advertisement for an unclassified game and it is determined (by the Classification Board or an assessor) that the game will have a likely classification of M, then the advertisement may only be shown alongside of games that already have an M, MA 15+ or R 18+ classification.

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

Permission to import or export objectionable goods

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 Australian Border Force can detain or seize any material that 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 (Refused Classification) criteria in the Code and the Classification Act. The Australian Border Force may apply for classification of items intercepted at the border. Organisations such as the Australian Border Force, the various Australian police forces, and public and private art galleries apply to import and export material from time to time.

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.

Online content

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. If the Office of the eSafety Commissioner receives a valid complaint about Australian hosted online content, or discovers potential prohibited content on its own initiative, it may, and in some cases must, submit the content to the Board for classification. The eSafety Commissioner then takes appropriate action in respect of online content.

Corporate overview

Legislative governance structures

The Classification Board

The Board is an independent statutory body established under the Classification Act which comprises a Director, a Deputy Director, and other members.

The Board classifies films, computer games and certain publications.

The Director

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

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

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

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

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

The Review Board

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

See page 85 for more information on the Review Board.

The Convenor

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

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

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

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

Administrative arrangements

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

The Classification Branch undertakes the following functions:

  • providing policy and operational advice on classification issues to the Commonwealth minister with classification responsibilities
  • providing secretariat services to the Boards
  • providing classification education and training for industry and government bodies, a function now being shared with the Classification Board.

Meetings

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

The 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 Boards maintain effective liaison with the department through both formal and informal meetings and contacts.

Stakeholder liaison

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

The 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 out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005 (the 2005 Regulations). 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 applicants. Revenue from classification fees for 2018–19 was $3,627,920.

Costs and revenue for classification are included in the department’s Annual Report 2018–19. The report is available at www.communications.gov.au.

Risk management

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

Website

The Australian Classification website address is www.classification.gov.au. Information is tailored to user groups such as the public, industry and law enforcement agencies. The website contains a public access database, the National Classification Database (NCD) of classification decisions made by the Boards. Information on the NCD incorporates classification and consumer advice in the search results, including a classification matrix which shows the level of each classifiable element in a film or computer game, providing additional advice when the element is not mentioned in the consumer advice. The NCD also includes classification decisions for submittable publications.

In the reporting year, there have been 2,867,907 visits to the website.

Establishment and maintenance of appropriate ethical standards

Ethical standards

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

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 Board. This requirement does not apply to service in the Australian Defence Force. During the reporting year, the Director was not asked to consider any external employment for permanent members of the Board. It is noted, however, that temporary Board members undertake other paid employment elsewhere, and these Board members disclose such work to the Director who ensures that there is no perceived or actual conflict of interest when temporary Board members are engaged to classify material.

The Board has a code of conduct applicable for all members, full-time and temporary.

External accountability

The Boards 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.

Membership

Appointments to the Boards are made by the Governor-General, following a recommendation by the Minister. Before making a recommendation, 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 to serve a statutory maximum term 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 on the respective Boards.

Conditions

The Remuneration Tribunal determines the entitlements of the members of the Boards 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 (the FOI Act), this section of the report contains information about FOI procedures and access to documents.

Three applications were received for access to Classification Board or Review Board documents under the FOI Act during the reporting period, of which two were finalised.

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

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

Categories of documents

The following categories of documents are maintained by the department on behalf of the Boards:

  • applications under the Classification Act
  • documents relating to decisions of the Boards.

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

The following categories of documents are publicly available at www.classification.gov.au:

  • the Classification Act, the Code, the Guidelines and the 2005 Regulations
  • the Determinations, Principles and other instruments made under the Classification Act
  • Annual Reports
  • application forms for classification and review.

Privacy

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

Privacy Officer
Department of Communications and the Arts
GPO Box 2154
Canberra ACT 2601
privacy@communications.gov.au

Reports by the Auditor-General

There were no reports on the operation of the Boards by the Auditor-General in the reporting period.

Changes to the National Classification Scheme

There were no changes to the National Classification Scheme in the reporting period.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

No matters involving the Boards were dealt with by the Commonwealth Ombudsman in the reporting period.

Classification Board Annual Report 2018–19

Director’s letter of transmittal

Australian Government - Classification Board logo

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with subsection 67(1) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, I am pleased to submit a report on the management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Board for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

Yours sincerely

Signature of Margaret Anderson

Margaret Anderson
Director

9 September 2019

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

Director’s overview

Director’s overview

Photo of Margaret Anderson

Director’s Foreword

The primary aim of the Classification Board is to provide robust classifications, giving ratings and consumer advice for films, computer games and submittable publications. Such classifications take into account both Australian cultural mores and community standards, as well as the legislative framework. The reason for this classification system is to provide people with trusted information with which to inform their viewing, playing and reading choices. To achieve this in the digital age requires a re-thinking of service provision. This may involve the pooling of classification resources, potentially across jurisdictions.

Digital resources

Australian society’s digital engagement, both in e-commerce and recreational pastimes, continues to rise; for example, two-thirds of Australians play video games and almost half of video game players are female. Women and girls spend, on average, 71 minutes per day playing computer games including casual and in-depth gameplay (males, 89 minutes), with children playing, on average, 100 minutes per day.

When those minutes are analysed in the context of young players and adult life stages (early adulthood, middle adulthood and later adulthood), the motivations for gameplay vary greatly, ranging from “entertainment” to “maintaining social connections”, to “keeping the mind active/positive ageing”. These and other insights are contained in two reports: Digital Australia 2020 report, and Digital 2019 (Australia). The 2020 report is a long-term series of empirical studies about digital gaming in Australian households. Its focus is on demographics, behaviours and attitudes. The 2019 report provides data about trends for the internet, social media and e-commerce behaviours. Both are valuable sources of information for the Classification Board about gamers, internet streaming, and usage.

Review of the statutory guidelines for computer games and films

The Digital Australia 2020 report reveals that a significant proportion (42%) of those aged 65 years and over play video games and that the average Australian adult has been playing video games for 12 years. Video games sales in Australia grew at a rate of 19% between 2013 and 2019. However, the current Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films (“the Guidelines”) were each most recently published in 2012. The social policy research underpinning those guidelines pre-dates that.

On 28 June 2019, the Council of Attorneys-General (“CAG”) agreed that the Australian Government will co-ordinate a public consultation process on reviewing the Guidelines to ensure they reflect contemporary Australian community values. Ministers agreed that the Australian Government will develop a new set of Guidelines and, if necessary, amend the National Classification Code (the Code). Any proposed new Guidelines and changes to the Code would then be considered by CAG.

The Board encourages people and companies to consider any discussion papers and to participate in the submission process; the details of which will appear on the department’s website: www.communications.gov.au

Computer gaming

The Digital Australia 2020 report states that most homes have a device for playing video games, with 21% of households having a virtual reality headset. Seventy percent of us use our mobile phones and 65% of us use consoles for playing games.

Alison Bickerstaff, Margaret Anderson and Jarrah Rushton at PAX

From left to right: Alison Bickerstaff, Acting Deputy Director, Classification Board; Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board; Jarrah Rushton, Board Member.

It was therefore important that representatives of the Board were able to visit PAX (originally known as the “Penny Arcade Expo”) in Melbourne in October 2018. This was the first time in at least six years that Board representatives had attended.

PAX is a series of gaming culture festivals involving tabletop, arcade, and video gaming which is held annually in four cities in the USA and Melbourne. The 2018 PAX ran for three days.

There was an array of panels on games topics; game-culture-inspired concerts; exhibitor booths from both independent and major game developers and publishers; a multiplayer LAN party; tabletop gaming tournaments, and video game free-play areas.

Three Board members attended and sat in on panel discussions ranging from: ‘How should games make moral choices matter?’; ‘Leveling [sic] Up Men and Masculinity’; ‘Character Creation’; ‘Pitch Your Game’; ‘Why the Mainstream Media’s reporting on Fortnite is Dumb and Harmful’; ‘Entertainment or Edification: What’s the Future of Gaming?’; and ‘Sex, Violence & Addiction: What’s Up with Games Research?’

For the first time, I attended the MCV Pacific Awards on 30 May 2019 in Sydney. These awards recognise games publishing, retail, distribution, marketing, PR, events and media, which are all integral parts of this vast industry.

Ben Au, Margaret Anderson and Jeffrey Brand at MCV Pacific Awards

From left to right: Ben Au, Manager of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, IGEA; Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board; Professor Jeffrey Brand, Associate Dean – Learning & Teaching, Faculty of Society & Design, Bond University

Gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items Report, November 2018

On 28 June 2018, the Australian Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee for Inquiry and Report: The extent to which gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items, sometimes referred to as ‘loot boxes’, may be harmful, with particular reference to:

  • whether the purchase of chance-based items, combined with the ability to monetise these items on third-party platforms, constitutes a form of gambling; and
  • the adequacy of the current consumer protection and regulatory framework for in-game micro-transactions for chance-based items, including international comparisons, age requirements and disclosure of odds.

On 17 August 2018, I attended a public hearing in Melbourne and gave evidence, including, ‘one of the important notions…is that this whole construct of a loot box is incredibly broad and…there is no easy clear definition’ (page 51); a description of the different kinds of applications to have a game classified (pages 56–58), and the IARC tool (page 58).

When asked, I expressed concern regarding any proposal for ‘blanket or sweeping’ requirements that games containing loot boxes be classified at a particular rating. I told the committee: ‘I think the nuance and innuendo that sits in games is huge. I would be very concerned, if we were to suddenly go from having a degree of flexibility that we have in our current classification system to replacing that with a very black and white direction that all games with any kind of direct or simulated gambling content or reference in any shape, manner or form to gambling would automatically be R18+.’ I suggested that it may be appropriate for some styles of loot box mechanisms ‘to be in some kind of age-restricted classification’ but said that this issue is ‘very fertile ground for further discussion and research’ (page 61).

The transcript of the public hearing and the full report is available from: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environ…

International Classifiers’ Conference

In January/February 2019, I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the International Classifiers’ Conference in Santa Monica, USA. Senior experienced classifiers attended from a rage of jurisdictions, including Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, and the UK.

The Conference provided an opportunity to examine a variety of issues, including how relevant and helpful ‘older’ (think decades older) film classifications are, and whether or not there should be a statutory time limit on classifications; French reform regarding the classification of sex and violence; the challenges of film classification when films include traditional cultural rituals and practices; the UK’s Digital Economy Act; and NZ’s findings regarding the viewing of pornography by young people. The conference commenced with an in-depth presentation of US Film Ratings System Research, which was launched in 1969 and has undertaken field research annually to provide top line metrics about theatrical-release films, identifying regional differences, parents’ views and concerns about content and ratings (particularly the US PG-13 and R ratings, closest to the Australian M and MA 15+ respectively), the quantity of violent content and upper level coarse language, and types of depicted sexual behaviour.

On the first day, I presented a session on the Australian Classification Board’s experience with online classification tools, notably, the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) tool for certain computer games, and the Netflix classification tool for Netflix streamed content in Australia. On the final day, I participated in a panel discussion with my Irish, USA, Dutch and English counterparts on the changes over the past decade in classifying sexual violence in films, starting with The Duchess (2008), which contains a one-on-one implied sexual assault, and then Wind River (2017), which contains a prolonged group sexual assault, with discussion then being opened to the floor. Myriad other films were mentioned in this discussion, along with other assorted issues and considerations.

Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC)

The National Association of Cinema Operators-Australasia hosts the AIMC, annually. It is an opportunity for contact not only between the Classification Board and the major international and Australian film distributors, but also those responsible for cinematic film exhibition, be they national companies, state-based cinema chains, or independent cinemas from each state/territory of Australia. Delegates attend from Australia, NZ, Asia, the USA and Europe, and share their experiences of local and international trends through guest presenters and panels, be they about licensing fees, film classification, piracy, and cinema developments and attendance trends. It is a valuable opportunity to network with colleagues and senior industry executives about their experiences with film classifications over the past year. I attended the AIMC accompanied by Alison Bickerstaff, then Acting Deputy Director.

Media Releases and Interviews

During the year, I issued three media releases. One for each of the films, Bumblebee and Rocketman, explained the number of versions of the films and their different classifications. The third concerned the end-of-year Christmas/New Year releases of films and games.

I represented the Board in overseas, national and regional print media, as well as broadcast and online media. Some notable media engagements included:

  • a German online publication TV Diskurs (“TV Discourse”) which examined and compared the German classification system with Australia’s systems, focusing in particular on the regulation of youth media protection in television and cinema;
  • ABC Canberra Radio Drive (live-to-air) interview with presenter Anna Vidot, on classification generally and specifically the Netflix classification tool; and
  • Being interviewed for the first episode of a five-part TV series aimed at parents who want to know more about the culture of video games, focusing on how classification works and what parents need to know.

Classification Reform

At the time of writing, the final checks and testing are being undertaken on the online Film Classification Course, and its associated assessor and consumer advice modules, which will replace face-to-face industry training. It has been a challenging year to invest the resources required for finalisation of this critical and significant course. I particularly wish to acknowledge the efforts of Ms Victoria Ellis, who has worked one-on-one with me and has consistently applied herself to this project over the past year. With her well-reasoned and valuable input, we have been able to shape a course and develop content to which industry testers have positively responded. During the coming year, we will turn our attention to the finalisation of the online Computer Games Classification Course.

The Board appreciated greatly the opportunity to meet with the recently appointed Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP. During our meeting with him, we canvassed those issues raised in last year’s Annual Report, including the Board’s ongoing support for the creation of a SIMO (“single input multiple output”) international film classification tool. As film distribution is a global enterprise a universal film classification tool, weighted to Australian cultural mores and community standards, (as is the IARC tool for certain computer games), would afford Australians consumer protection and offer industry a single tool which would yield jurisdiction-specific classifications. The Board also reiterated its support for the creation of a PG-13 classification to sit between the existing PG and M classifications for films and computer games.

Thanks and acknowledgements

The Board has welcomed, and enjoyed working with the recently appointed Assistant Secretary of the Classification Branch, Mr Aaron O’Neill, and looks forward over the coming year to addressing with him, ongoing concerns about facets of the operation of the Netflix classification tool. The Board greatly appreciates Mr O’Neill’s agreement to include a Board Member (to date, Ms Alison Bickerstaff) in telephone conference feedback calls to Netflix staff, explaining assessment outcomes, when the Board has revoked a decision made by the Netflix classification tool and replaced it with a different classification and/or consumer advice. The inclusion of Ms Bickerstaff has enabled direct feedback and pertinent discussions to take place.

During the year, the Board welcomed Ms Sally Ryan as Deputy Director and Ms Rachel Merton as a Board Member and farewelled Mr Ron Delezio.

The Board is very appreciative of the support it receives from the Classification Branch, particularly from the Applications team. The Board wishes to thank Ms Jenny Marvello, its former Board Support Officer, and wishes her well in her future endeavours. The Board is particularly appreciative of the ongoing assistance unstintingly provided by Ms Evi Howdin and Mr Justin Barrington-Higgs. While the staffing level challenges have led to an increased work turnaround time for some application-types, all statutory deadlines have been satisfied.

I would like to thank all of the Board’s permanent and temporary members, who are driven and diligent, who have never missed a statutory deadline, and who continue to view and write reports, day after day, even when they have been required to punctuate their commercial media with extreme material submitted by law enforcement clients. Your output remains undiminished; your standards maintained.

Margaret Anderson
Director
Classification Board

Joan Graves, Margaret Anderson, and Kelly McMahon at International Classifiers' Conference

From left to right: Joan Graves, Chairman, CARA, Motion Pictures Association of America; Margaret Anderson, Director, Australian Classification Board; Kelly McMahon, Vice President and Deputy Chairman, CARA.

Lori Flekser, Alison Bickerstaff, and Margaret Anderson at AIMC

From left to right: Lori Flekser, Executive Director, Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia and of Creative Content Australia; Alison Bickerstaff, then Acting Deputy Director, Classification Board; Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board. This photo was taken after Margaret and Alison signed the pledge to say, “No to Piracy”, a Creative Content Australia, Screenrights promotion. Online piracy not only jeopardises local jobs and livelihoods, but also the future of Australian stories in film.

Photo of Ellenor Nixon, Thomas Mann, Rachel Merton, Sally Ryan, Alison Bickerstaff, Margaret Anderson and Jarrah Rushton

The Classification Board

Left to right – Ms Ellenor Nixon, Mr Thomas Mann, Ms Rachel Merton, Ms Sally Ryan (Deputy Director), Ms Alison Bickerstaff (acting Deputy Director), Ms Margaret Anderson (Director), Mr Jarrah Rushton.

Classification Board profiles

Current Board members

Photo of Margaret Anderson

Margaret Anderson

Director
APPOINTED 12 June 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 24 July 2020

Acting Director
APPOINTED 1 July 2017

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 25 July 2013
REAPPOINTED 25 July 2016

Ms Margaret Anderson, 53, was appointed Director of the Classification Board in June 2018. Prior to this, she was the Acting Director of the Classification Board for almost a year and the Deputy Director for four years.

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

From 1995 to 2011, Ms Anderson held several positions with the NSW Department of Corrective Services including Director, Corporate Legislation and Parliamentary Support, as well as Executive Officer and Registrar of the Serious Offenders’ Review Council. As Director, she led the development and implementation of numerous legislative reforms and as the Executive Officer and Registrar, she oversaw the case management plans of the state’s most serious adult criminals.

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

Photo of Sally Ryan

Sally Ryan

Deputy Director
APPOINTED 21 March 2019
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 March 2021

Ms Sally Ryan, 43, from Sydney was appointed as Deputy Director of the Classification Board in March 2019.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Ryan held various management roles in state government with the NSW Office of Sport and Venues NSW. She has also held other roles in sport and event management, working for bodies such as the Western Sydney Academy of Sport, University of Technology Sydney and the Sydney World Masters Games Organising Committee.

Ms Ryan has a Bachelor of Arts in Leisure Studies (UTS), Graduate Diploma in Law (Southern Cross University), and is currently undertaking a Master of Business Administration (MGSM). As a parent of two, she has been actively involved in her community through her children’s school and sports activities.

Photo of Alison Bickerstaff

Alison Bickerstaff

Board Member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2019

Acting Deputy Director
APPOINTED 8 June 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 20 March 2019

Duties of Deputy Director
Commenced 1 July 2017

Ms Alison Bickerstaff, 39, was a small business owner prior to her appointment to the Classification Board in 2014, operating several busy hairdressing salons.

Ms Bickerstaff is a hairstylist 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 managed her son’s junior rugby league team and has been a board member of the team’s committee. She is also involved in a local group that gathers regularly to help control the spread of noxious weeds and help with bush and creek re-generation in her local area.

Ms Bickerstaff is passionate about the environment and wildlife conservation. Her interests include sustainable living, rugby league, horse riding, gardening, film and the arts and spending time with her family. She enjoys listening to a variety of music genres and is also involved in her local community’s social media site, which covers issues such as neighbourhood watch, hazard/weather watch and cultural issues, and boosting community morale.

Photo of Jarrah Rushton

Jarrah Rushton

Board member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 20 August 2020

Mr Jarrah Rushton, 43, 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.

Photo of Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann

Board member
APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 3 April 2022

Mr Thomas Mann, 37, 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 focused radio station SYN FM. Mr Mann has three children.

Photo of Ellenor Nixon

Ellenor Nixon

APPOINTED 1 June 2016
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 3 April 2022

Ms Ellenor Nixon, 28, 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. She is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture.

Photo of Rachel Merton

Rachel Merton

APPOINTED 4 April 2019
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES 3 April 2022

Ms Rachel Merton, 43, resides in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education from Macquarie University. She has experience in the both the private and public sector including over 13 years as a senior executive with KPMG Australia. Prior to that she worked in the Federal Government policy areas of Family and Community Services and Treasury.

Ms Merton is the mother of two girls under 7 years and pursues interests in equestrian activities as well as wool and beef farming through her family’s agricultural interests in the central west of NSW. She and her family are involved in their local community including the local school, and in sport with the North Sydney Bears Rugby League Football Club.

Board members who left the Classification Board in 2018–19

Ron Delezio

Board member
APPOINTED 21 August 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 20 August 2018

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.

Photo of Jenny Burke

Jenny Burke

Ms Jenny Burke, 37, resides in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, and has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Organisational Behaviour.

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

Ms Burke worked 40 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Andrew Humphreys

Andrew Humphreys

Mr Andrew Humphreys, 49, 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 90 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Jenny Fowler

Jenny Fowler

Ms Jenny Fowler, 54, resides in the southern suburbs of Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Education, Primary.

Ms Fowler currently works as a Youth Justice Conference Convenor, and has also worked as a primary school teacher and as an “extra” in film and television. Ms Fowler has a 23-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. She has maintained a high level of community involvement through her children’s school and sport and in her local surf lifesaving club. Her other interests include travel, sport and keeping fit.

Ms Fowler worked 75 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Felix Hubble

Felix Hubble

Mr Felix Hubble, 27, lives in the inner west of Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Film Studies) (Digital Cultures) (Hons). Mr Hubble is a film programmer, avid gamer, and former critic and editor of an online film journal.

Mr Hubble worked 91 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Wayne Garret

Wayne Garrett

Dr Wayne Garrett, 65, holds a BSc (Hons) and a PhD 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 also lived and worked in Sweden, Japan and the United Kingdom as well as France and a variety of South East Asian countries and has wide experience with people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds.

Dr Garrett worked 101 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Greg Randall

Greg Randall

Mr Greg Randall, 58, has 35 years’ experience in policing and criminal investigation within the NSW Police Force and other law enforcement agencies. He gained expertise in targeting, leading and commanding covert, complex and sensitive investigations into organised crime, as well as corruption in state, national and international jurisdictions. He attained the commissioned rank of detective inspector and received numerous awards and commendations, including being selected to participate in an international exchange program with the London Metropolitan Police.

Mr Randall is married with two teenage children. His interests include overseas travel, water and snow sports, politics and world affairs.

Mr Randall worked 47 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Damien Carr

Damien Carr

Mr Damien Carr, 31, 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 103 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Adam Hennessy

Adam Hennessy

Mr Adam Hennessy, 44, lives in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts (History) and a Master of Policy and Applied Social Research. Mr Hennessy also holds an Advanced Diploma of Police Management and a Diploma of Policing from NSW Police where he served for 13 years.

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

Mr Hennessy worked 10 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Mathew MacMaster

Mathew MacMaster

Mr Matt MacMaster, 38, 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 for a multinational advertising agency in Ultimo.

Mr MacMaster worked 12 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo of Lora Pechovska

Lora Pechovska

Ms Lora Pechovska, 31, 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 48 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Photo fof Raphael Richards

Raphael Richards

Mr Raphael Richards, 43, resides in the inner eastern suburbs of Sydney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary & Secondary). He has worked in the travel publishing industry and education sector for over a decade and has previously served as a board member for the Smartraveller program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Raphael is actively involved in his child’s school community and sports programs.

Mr Richards worked 24 days as a temporary Board member during 2018–19.

Other Temporary Board members

Ms Emma Ashton and Mr Michael Leske did not work any days as Temporary Board Members during 2018–19.

Statistics

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

Key achievements

The Classification Board made 2,833 classification decisions in 2018–19, including 2,820 commercial classification decisions, two classification decisions on internet content referred by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, and 11 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.

A breakdown of the Board’s workload is shown in Table 1.

Table 01: Board Workload

Classification Decisions

Decisions

Film (public exhibition (theatrical))

626

Film (sale/hire) – DVD/Blu-ray/Online

1,257

Film (sale/hire) – ACA

159

Film (sale/hire) – ATSA

357

Computer games

392

Publications

28

Serial publication declarations

1

Internet content

2

Enforcement

11

Sub-total

2,833

Other decisions

 

Advertising assessment of likely classification – film

17

Advertising assessment of likely classification – computer games

0

Section 87 Certificates – Classification Act

11

Conditional cultural exemptions (section 6H – Classification Act)

6

Call ins

0

Revocation of classification

0

Decline to deal further

1

Unclassified

1

Total

2,869

Comparison with last year’s workload

A comparison of the Board’s workload this year compared with 2017–18 is shown in Table 2.

Table 02: Board workload – comparison

Measure

2017–18

2018–19

Percentage change

Overall classification decisions

3,156

2,833

10 percent decrease

Public exhibition (theatrical) films

618

626

1 percent increase

Computer games

442

392

11 percent decrease

Film – (sale/hire) DVD/Blu-ray/Online

1,325

1,257

5 percent decrease

Film – (sale/hire) ACA scheme

180

159

12 percent decrease

Film – (sale/hire) ATSA scheme

506

357

29 percent decrease

Publications/serial publication declarations combined

31

29

6 percent decrease

Board audits of serial declarations

3

0

100 percent decrease

Pursuant to section 22CF, decisions made by an approved classification tool are taken, for the purposes of the classification Act, to be decisions of the Board.

Table 03: Tool decisions deemed to be decisions of the Board – comparison

Measure

2017–18

2018–19

Percentage change

IARC tool

368,462

317,550

14 percent decrease

Netflix tool

1,776

1,923

8 percent increase

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 in feedback on assessment outcomes of classification tool decisions
  • standardised internal procedures for managing applications.

Publications

The Classification Board made 29 decisions on commercial applications for classification of publications. This included 28 single issue publication classifications and one serial declaration.

Table 04: Commercial (single issue) publications decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

Unrestricted

12

Category 1 restricted

14

Category 2 restricted

2

Refused Classification (RC)

0

Total

28

As indicated in Figure 1, 50 percent of single issue publications classified were Category 1 restricted, 7 percent were Category 2 restricted and 43 percent were Unrestricted. No publications were Refused Classification (RC).

Figure 01: Publication classification decisions

Pie chart showing Table 04 data

Serial classification declarations for publications

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

Table 05: Serial classification declarations granted by classification

Classification

Declarations granted

Unrestricted

1

Category 1 restricted

0

Category 2 restricted

0

RC

0

Total

1

The Classification Board did not refuse any serial classification declaration in 2018–19.

Pursuant to section 13(5) of the Classification Act, the Board must revoke a serial declaration so far as it affects that issue and any future issues, if it is of the opinion that an issue of the publication covered by the declaration either: contains material that, if the issue were being classified separately, would cause it to be classified with a higher classification than the original issue; or contains an advertisement that has been refused approval.

As indicated in Table 05, the only serial classification application for declarations was for a publication that was classified Unrestricted.

Films classified for public exhibition

The Classification Board made 626 decisions on applications for the classification of commercial films for public exhibition.

Table 06: Decisions on commercial films classified for public exhibition

Classification

Classification decisions

G

40

PG

154

M

293

MA 15+

132

R 18+

7

X 18+

0

RC

0

Total

626

As indicated in Figure 2, 78 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 02: Decisions on films classified for public exhibition

Pie chart showing Table 06 data

Films classified for sale/hire

The Classification Board made 1,773 decisions on applications for classification of commercial films for sale/hire, including applications made under the ACA and ATSA schemes.

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

Classification

Classification decisions

G

249

PG

393

M

654

MA 15+

455

R 18+

22

X 18+

0

RC

0

Total

1,773

As indicated in Figure 3, approximately 73 percent of classifications of films for sale/hire during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions in the M category.

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

Figure 03: Decisions on commercial films classified for sale/hire (including ACA and ATSA)

Pie chart showing Table 07 data

Film – sale/hire includes DVD/Blu-ray/Online content submitted directly to the Board for classification, as well as films submitted as part of the Authorised Assessor schemes (ACA and ATSA) where the Board is still responsible for the classification of the film, but its decision may be informed by an assessor’s report and recommendation of classification and consumer advice.

Computer games

The Classification Board made 392 decisions on applications for computer games. The figures include applications made under the Authorised Assessor Scheme for Computer Games (AACG). Under this scheme, authorised assessors can make a recommendation about classification and consumer advice for a game at the G, PG or M classification levels. The Board is still responsible for the classification of the game, but its decision may be informed by an assessor’s report and recommendation of classification and consumer advice.

Table 08: Commercial computer games decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

91

PG

108

M

109

MA 15+

75

R 18+

7

RC

2

Total

392

79 percent of computer game classifications during the year were in the advisory categories of G, PG and M, with the highest number of decisions falling in the PG and M categories.

The Board determined two Refused Classification decisions for computer games in the reporting period.

Figure 04: Computer game classification decisions (including AACG)

Pie chart showing Table 08 data

Table 09: Commercial computer game applications Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Reason1

Number

Games RC 1(a)

2

Games RC 1(b)

0

Games RC 1(c)

0

Games RC 1(a) & 1 (b)

0

Total

2

Advertising approvals

The Board did not receive any applications for approval of advertisements under section 29 of the Classification Act.

Advertising assessments

The scheme for advertising of unclassified films and computer games allows advertising subject to conditions set out in the Classification (Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme) Determination 2009.

During the reporting period, the Board made 17 assessments of the likely classification of films. No assessments were made of the likely classification of a computer game.

Table 10: Advertising assessments for films

Likely Classification

Decisions

G

0

PG

8

M

8

MA 15+

1

R 18+

0

Total

17

Revocations

No decisions were made to revoke the classifications of films, computer games, publications or serial declarations under sections 21A, 21AA, 21AB or subsection 13(5) of the Classification Act during this reporting period. Revocations under approved classification tools are discussed in the section Approved Classification Tools on page 43.

Call ins

Under the Classification Act, the Director may call in, that is, issue a notice to the publisher to submit an unclassified film, computer game, or a submittable publication for classification. Similar call in provisions apply in relation to certain advertisements.

No call in notices were issued during this reporting period. However, it was brought to the attention of the Director that some book retailers were unlawfully selling a publication that was RC. Contact with the sellers resulted in them removing the publication from sale.

Approved classification tools

The Classification Act provides for classification tools to be approved by the Minister to make classification decisions.

Decisions made by classification tools are deemed, pursuant to section 22CF of the Classification Act, to be decisions of the Board. Section 22CH of the Classification Act provides for the Board to revoke a classification decision produced by an approved classification tool if the Board is of the opinion that it would have given the material a different classification or assigned different consumer advice. The Board may revoke a classification decision on its own initiative or on application.

During the reporting period, two classification tools were used to generate classification decisions pursuant to subsection 22CA(1) of the Classification Act:

  • the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) classification tool (the IARC tool) which produces Australian classifications for online games; and
  • the Netflix classification tool (the Netflix tool) which produces Australian classifications for content delivered by the streaming service in Australia.

The IARC tool

During the reporting period, the IARC tool made 317,550 decisions which were published on the NCD. To ensure that the IARC tool makes decisions which align with decisions of the Board and Australian community standards, decisions of the IARC tool are monitored by way of the international program of participating IARC members, called Global Overrides. Australia participates in this program, which reviews games which might be high profile or which might be the subject of a complaint. During the reporting period, 2,755 IARC classifications were reviewed under the program and were changed. Most of these reviews caused the computer game to be given a higher classification.

In the Board’s opinion, monitoring of IARC is a significant responsibility and requires dedicated resourcing.

Figure 05: IARC tool classification decisions
Pie chart showing Table 11 data

RC decisions totalled 120, which was less than 0.1% of total

Table 11: IARC tool decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

254,684

PG

17,848

M

36,236

MA 15+

6,836

R 18+

1,826

RC

120

Total

317,550

The Netflix tool

In October 2018, following the completion of the pilot of the Netflix tool, Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield, the former Minister, approved the Netflix tool for ongoing use. To monitor the performance of the tool since the pilot, a selection of random and targeted films were assessed against agreed performance indicators.

From 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, the Netflix tool produced 1,923 decisions which are recorded in the NCD. No information is disclosed publicly on the number of Netflix tool decisions that were revoked by the Board in the reporting year.

Table 12: Netflix tool decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

102

PG

330

M

930

MA 15+

533

R 18+

28

RC

0

Total

1,923

Figure 06: Netflix tool classification decisions
Pie chart showing Table 12 data

Other functions

Exemptions to show unclassified content

Under the Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules, organisers for events such as film festivals and computer games expos, and for cultural institutions such as art galleries and museums, self-assess their eligibility for exemption to exhibit unclassified films, computer games and certain publications. If they comply with the standard conditions, event organisers register their event online in the classification portal.

During 2018–19, 445 festival events were registered.

During the reporting period, the Director received six applications for a waiver or variation to the exemption rules. Of these, the Director approved three applications in full, and approved three applications with modifications.

Enforcement agencies

The Classification Board classifies films, publications and computer games submitted by law enforcement agencies. These classification decisions are often used in enforcement proceedings undertaken by the agency involved.

There were 11 classification decisions for enforcement applications made in the reporting period – all 11 for films, all of which required a certificate to be issued pursuant to section 87 of the Classification Act. Hence, the total number of documents issued was 22.

There were no enforcement applications for computer games in 2018–19.

Table 13: Enforcement application decisions by agency

Enforcement agency

Publications

Films

Section 87 certificates2

Total documents issued

Australian Federal Police

0

0

0

0

ACT Office of Fair Trading

0

0

0

0

NSW Police

0

10

10

20

NT Police

0

0

0

0

Qld Police & Qld Office of Fair Trading

0

0

0

0

Victoria Police

0

0

0

0

SA Police

0

0

0

0

Tasmania Police

0

0

0

0

WA Police

0

0

0

0

Department of Home Affairs (Australian Border Force)

0

1

1

2

Total

0

11

11

22

Internet content

Under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), the Classification Board classifies internet content on application from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. Internet content is shown in Table 14 and Table 15.

Table 14: Internet content decisions by classification

Classification

Classification decisions

G

0

PG

0

M

0

MA 15+

0

R 18+

0

X 18+

0

RC

2

Total

2

Table 15: Internet content Refused Classification (RC) by reason

Reason3

Number

Films RC 1(a)

0

Films RC 1(b)

0

Films RC 1(c)

0

Films RC 1(a) & 1(b)

0

Films RC 1(a) & 1(c)

0

Films S9A

0

Films S9A & RC 1(c)

1

Films S9A, RC 1(a) & 1(c)

1

Total

2


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

2 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.

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

Decisions

Films

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

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

The Board’s general practice when providing consumer advice is to indicate the strongest classifiable element or elements which caused it to receive the designated classification level. The consumer advice is usually preceded by a descriptor to indicate impact or intensity, with this descriptor generally corresponding with the hierarchy of impact stated in the Films Guidelines. The default consumer advice for G-rated films is “general” where there is no content which in the Board’s opinion warrants specific mention as consumer advice.

The following discussions and statistics about films relate solely to those decisions made by the Classification Board and exclude those made by the Netflix tool.

Poster for Pick of the Litter
G classification marking

Out of the total of 2,399 commercial films classified in 2018–2019, 289 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. Films classified in the reporting period include: Guess How Much I Love You – An Enchanting Easter; Shimmer And Shine: Flight of the Zahracorns; I Am Non [online series]; Magical Land of Oz; Rottnest Island – Kingdom of the Quokka; Burn The Stage: The Movie; The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey Collector’s Edition.

Living Universe is an Australian documentary film about the search for life on other planets. It includes interviews with various scientists and a CGI speculative depiction of a mission to another planet. In the opinion of the Board, consumer advice of “general” was the most appropriate for this film.

Pick of the Litter is an American documentary about the training program for a litter of puppies which are destined to become guide dogs. Several of the people who are waiting for guide dogs describe the limitations in their lives owing to blindness or poor eyesight. One man talks about losing his eyesight to cancer and a returned serviceman says that raising a guide dog puppy has given him a purpose in life after struggling with PTSD. The film also contains very mild coarse language in the form of “bummer”, “jerkwad”, and “freakin’”. In the Board’s opinion, the thematic treatment within the film exists only to give context to a disabled person’s need for dependency on a faithful canine, whether it be blindness or a stress disorder and, as such, this treatment is very mild. The use of very mild coarse language was in a context that was either self-deprecating or descriptive of good feelings. As such, the elements of themes and coarse language used in the film were subsumed and the film’s consumer advice was “general”.

A Champion Heart is an American children’s film in which a troubled girl begins work at a ranch for rescued horses. The film contains themes which are very mild in impact, including a scene where Mandy and her friend are racing quad bikes. Mandy crashes her bike after being bumped by Zoe, who leaves Mandy to avoid getting caught. Mandy is unhurt but has a small amount of blood on her ear. In another scene, Mandy falls from her horse after being goaded into jumping a higher fence than she was prepared for. She is momentarily winded and her horse has blood on his leg. Neither Mandy nor the horse have ongoing injuries owing to the fall. The film was given consumer advice of “very mild themes”.

The sequel to Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns contains a tense scene during which the principal human characters are depicted in an animated environment with cartoon animal characters, ostensibly a scene depicted on a Royal Doulton ceramic pot. Georgie’s beloved toy, Gilly, is stolen by an animated wolf and when Georgie tries to retrieve Gilly, he is grabbed by the wolf and his offsiders and taken away. His siblings give chase in a horse-drawn carriage and they race through a darkened forest as Georgie calls for help. An event creates a crack in the Royal Doulton pot and the wheel of the carriage becomes caught in the crack and they pass a sign saying, “Edge of Bowl”. The children briefly fall through a black void before they are shown in their nursery at home, whereupon they mention that they all had the same bad dream; Mary Poppins comforts them. The focus on the rescue of Georgie and brevity of the tense scene mitigates impact so that it did not exceed very mild. The film’s consumer advice was “a scene of very mild peril”.

Similarly, Toy Story 4 contains themes and violence which are very mild in impact as they were mitigated by the animation style and comedic tone of the film. Brief scenes of danger and peril are quickly resolved, such as when Gabby Gabby and her team of dummies, called Bensons, appear to want to take the voice-box of the toy cowboy, Woody. Woody is quickly and unknowingly rescued by a human child. Another toy, Giggle, is swallowed by a cat but is later coughed up, unharmed. The film was given consumer advice of “some scenes may scare very young children”.

Elliot the Littlest Reindeer is an animated film about a miniature horse who dreams of earning a spot on Santa’s team of reindeer. He sets out to achieve his dream by posing as a reindeer while competing in the North Pole try-outs. The try-outs are derailed when Santa’s helper, Lemondrop, reveals his corrupt ways and attempts to destroy the stadium using a storm-making machine. In the Board’s opinion, the film’s bright and colourful animations, light tone and sense of comedy, mitigated impact of the thematic content to the extent that it did not exceed very mild. The film’s most impactful content was best described with consumer advice of “very mild themes and coarse language, some scenes may frighten very young children”.

The Accidental Prime Minister is an Indian Hindi-language film with English subtitles, about the career of India’s 14th Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The film contains a depiction of a previous Prime Minster, Rao, lying in state after his death, while dignitaries pay their respects. There are political machinations about where Rao’s funeral should be held, which are upsetting for Manmohan. The film also contains use of very mild coarse language in the form of “hell” and “bloody”. The film’s consumer advice was “very mild themes and coarse language”.

Christmas Mail is an American family film with a Christmas theme about a single postal worker, Matt, who meets a mysterious new employee, Kristi, who answers Santa letters. His adopted niece, Emily, writes to Santa hoping to find Matt a special friend, but their petty boss, Mr Fuller, makes things difficult for them both. Thematic content in the film’s narrative includes an orphaned girl who wants to see her adoptive uncle happy; and a petty, mean boss who uses his staff to spy on each other for his own means, by threatening them with being fired. The film contains very mild sexual references that are very discreetly implied and justified by context, including a scene where a woman at a single parent’s support group asks Matt, “When was the last time you had sex?” Embarrassed by the question, Matt does not reply, and leaves the meeting. The film was given consumer advice of “very mild themes and sexual references”.

Poster for Storm Boy
PG classification marking

Out of the total of 2,399 commercial films classified in 2018–19, 547 films were classified PG.

Films classified in the reporting period include: Aladdin; Storm Boy; In My Blood It Runs; Pokemon Detective Pikachu; Deadly Dinosaurs with Steve Backshall; Fantastica; Boonie Bears The Big Shrink; The Dating Project; Russell Coight: All Aussie Adventures – Season 3.

The most common consumer advice for films in the PG classification is “mild themes”, either on its own or married with “coarse language” and/or “violence”. For example, two films, Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Lego Movie 2 both received consumer advice of “mild themes and animated violence”.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ralph and Vanellope venture into the internet in search of a replacement part for Vanellope’s arcade machine as the characters try to avoid being switched off by the arcade owner. When Vanellope begins to enjoy the thrills of the World Wide Web, a jealous Ralph accidentally triggers a replicating computer virus which begins to create copies of Ralph. When the copies coalesce into a giant Ralph, Ralph must confront his fears and work with Vanellope and her new friends to save the internet. In The Lego Movie 2, Emmett teams up with Rex Dangervest when his friends are kidnapped during a Duplo invasion. The film contains highly stylised violence, such as heart-shaped arrows and Lego bricks made to appear as lasers. Vehicles and buildings deconstruct into their original Lego pieces which can be reused. In both films, the Board considered the thematic content and depictions of violence to be inextricably linked and sufficiently stylised to be accommodated within the PG classification.

Qismat is an Indian romantic drama film (in Punjabi with English subtitles). The film follows a young couple whose love is thwarted by the woman’s father. When the woman, Bani, becomes dangerously ill, her father relents and allows Shiva to see her in the hospital, however, she does not recover. In addition to the thematic content, Shiva gets into a fight with Bani’s ex-boyfriend, slapping him several times before kicking him in the chest. The lack of injury and blood detail and the brevity of the violence mitigated the impact so that it did not exceed mild. The film’s consumer advice was “mild themes and violence”.

Suicide The Ripple Effect is a feature-length American documentary in which Kevin Hines, a speaker who suffers from bipolar disorder, raises awareness about suicide prevention, with a particular focus on the addition of suicide nets to the Golden Gate Bridge. The film is entirely comprised of content pertaining to suicide including extensive discussions about suicide prevention. The film also contains a brief, verbal reference to sexual assault. The overall impact of themes within the context of this film – mitigated by the film’s educational documentary format and persistent focus on suicide prevention, as well as the lack of visual depictions of acts of suicide or detailed depictions of injuries resulting from suicide attempts – did not exceed mild, with consumer advice of “suicide themes” best describing the most impactful thematic content. The film also contains a single use of mild coarse language in the form of the word “shit”. In this case, the Board gave the film consumer advice of “suicide themes and infrequent mild coarse language”. Deliberately omitting the “mild” modifier for themes was deemed appropriate owing to the documentary context and sole focus of the film on the subject of suicide.

Facing Darkness is an American documentary about the efforts of a Christian relief organisation to fight the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. The film contains themes and violence which are mild in impact. Depictions include archival footage of men firing guns on the streets of Monrovia in 1996 during the civil war. There are numerous verbal references to the Ebola infection, including a man who says, “It starts out like the flu. It can quickly turn out where you’re haemorrhaging from all the openings of your body. If it continues to progress, you will have massive organ failure.” Given the archival footage and the lack of injury detail, the Board decided to subsume the element of violence under themes. The film was given consumer advice of “mild themes”.

Brimstone & Glory is a Mexican documentary (in Spanish with English subtitles) about the National Fireworks Festival held annually in Tultepec, Mexico. The festival honours San Juan De Dios, the patron saint of firework-makers, which is the occupation of the majority of the local population. During the festival, large papier-mache and fibreglass bulls are covered in fireworks and pushed down around the town square while the fireworks explode. A brief scene depicts several men at the paramedic station. One has an injured eye, one has a burn on his neck and one has a broken nose. The film’s consumer advice was “mild injury detail”.

Familia Blondina is a comedic film (in Filipino with English subtitles), which follows a young Filipina who returns home with her children after her American solider husband is killed in a plane crash. When she meets a new man, with two daughters of his own, chaos ensues as they attempt to integrate their families. The film contains themes, violence and coarse language which are mild in impact. The film was given consumer advice of “mild themes, violence and coarse language”.

Vadhayiyaan Ji Vadhayiyaan is a romantic comedy film from India (in Punjabi, with English subtitles) about Pargat, a man who has struggled to find a wife. When he meets Gagan, he desperately wants to impress her family, but every attempt he makes backfires on him. Pargat and his friends, Sukhi and Honey, are depicted in the film on several occasions buying and drinking bottles of liquor, before Pargat has to pretend he does not approve of drinking, in order to impress his prospective new family. The film was given consumer advice of “mild themes and coarse language”, subsuming a singular, verbal drug reference to cannabis, in the form of a one-off comparison between alcohol drinkers and cannabis consumers.

Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?: Arrow Of The Orion is an animated film (in Japanese with English subtitles), that follows a group of adventurers who, after forming alliances with the gods, are able to defeat the monsters that lie within a dungeon. There is a brief scene where the main characters come across a group of people who have implicitly been killed by monsters. One woman is viewed with a trail of blood from her mouth while another lies in a pool of blood. Near the end of the film, the protagonist fights a monstrous boar, implicitly an animal form of a god. The protagonist rams her spear into the boar’s forehead, causing a spray of purple blood. The Board considered these scenes not to exceed mild in impact owing to the still imagery, fast cut scenes, the animation style and the lack of injury detail. The film also contains scenes where women are viewed bathing, with buttocks and a small amount of the side of the breast visible. No nipple detail is depicted. The film was given consumer advice of “mild fantasy themes, animated violence and nudity”.

Poster for Daffodils
M classification marking

Out of the total of 2,399 commercial films classified in 2018–19, 947 films were classified M.

The impact of material at the M classification is moderate, however, strong coarse language starting with the letter ‘f’ (and its derivatives) is generally accommodated at M provided it is infrequent, is not aggressive, and is justified by context.

Films classified in the reporting period include: Girl; Long Shot; Mulk; Chitralahari; Death of A Nation; Charlie Says; Pyewacket; Climate Warriors; The Keeper; Dark Figure of Crime; Battle Earth; Adanga Maru; Daffodils; A Casa Tutti Bene; Italian Film Festival 2017 Box Set Volume 2; The Bletchley Circle San Francisco; I Am Paul Walker; Khalid: Free Spirit; and The Real Housewives of Cheshire Seasons 1–6.

The highest number of theatrical release and home viewing films was in the M classification category.

Pihu is an Indian dramatic film (in Hindi with English subtitles) about a toddler who is left alone in an apartment after her parents have an argument. When Pihu’s father leaves, her mother implicitly takes pills and lies on her bed. Pihu attempts to wake her mother several times between various adventures around the apartment, during which the child is at risk of being harmed. In the Board’s opinion, the thematic content is moderate in impact owing to the implicit threat to the child throughout the film. The film’s consumer advice is “mature themes”.

In two instances, the Board decided to subsume the element of violence, which was in the form of sexual violence in films, under consumer advice of “mature themes”. The first instance was in the dramatic film The Best of Enemies, which is based on true events in 1971 about an African-American civil rights activist and a local Ku Klux Klan leader. The implied sexual violence was used as an intimidation tactic against a young woman who was part of the community summit regarding the integration of schools. She is pushed against a wall by a Ku Klux Klan member, both of them fully clothed, and briefly implicitly assaulted below frame. The implied sexual assault was primarily an act of intimidation within the context of resisting integration on the part of the white population. Therefore, consumer advice of “mature themes” best described the most impactful content and subsumed the element of violence.

The second film was The Heart Dances: The Journey of the Piano: The Ballet, a New Zealand documentary which follows the development of a ballet performance based on the film The Piano. The dancers playing Alisdair and Ada are depicted performing the scene where Alisdair implicitly assaults Ada. Owing to the nature of the performance, the dancers are co-operative with each other, however, their movements and facial expressions convey resistance and anger. The implied sexual assault is within the context of a ballet performance. In the case of both films, the Board considered that, given the overarching narratives of each film and the mitigating factors, specific consumer advice for sexual violence was not warranted and the content could be subsumed under consumer advice of “mature themes”.

First Man tells the behind-the-scenes story of Neil Armstrong and the decade leading up to his historic flight to the moon. This film contains two uses of strong coarse language as well as a singular use each of mild coarse language in the form of “shit” and “screw”. The film was given consumer advice of “occasional coarse language”.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic drama about the life and career of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. It includes use of strong coarse language. The Board accommodated themes, violence, sexual references, drug use and other lower impact coarse language at a lower classification level. Therefore, the film was given consumer advice of “coarse language”.

Free Solo is an American documentary in which a rock climber, Alex Honnold, attempts to scale El Capitan, a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California without the use of ropes. The Board considered the thematic content to be mild in impact, however, the film contained strong coarse language which required the film to be classified M and given consumer advice of “coarse language”.

Letting You Know Me is an Australian drama about a young man dealing with mental health issues and his struggles to connect with the important people in his life. The film contains no dialogue, but uses music and interpretative dance to tell its story. The film features an implied prescription drug overdose and attempted resuscitation, during which the main character appears distressed. The film also contains coarse language, when a character writes a sexual reference on a wall. The Board subsumed the element of sex under coarse language. The film’s consumer advice was “mature themes and coarse language”.

A Star Is Born is an American romantic drama, in which a musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism sends his own career into a downward spiral. In one scene, Jackson crushes a tablet before implicitly snorting the resulting powder off the table. He is seen with white powder on his cheek. He also embarrasses Ally, his wife, at an award ceremony by drunkenly stumbling onto the stage during her acceptance speech and implicitly urinating on himself. He is dragged to a shower by his father-in-law before he is seen in group rehabilitation, where he admits being an alcoholic and drug addict. The film also contains sex scenes which were moderate in impact and strong coarse language. The film received consumer advice of “mature themes, coarse language, drug use and sex scenes”. A subsequent “Encore” version of the film, with several additional scenes, was given the same consumer advice. The Board found that the implied suicide scene was able to be accommodated at a lower classification level as it was not depicted directly. For further discussion, refer to the section for Correspondence on page 83.

Exes Baggage is a romantic drama (in Filipino with English subtitles) about a couple whose relationship is marred by emotional baggage carried over from their previous relationships. The film contains sexual activity that is discreetly implied and justified by context. In the Board’s opinion, the impact of the singular scene featuring implicit sexual activity is heightened by its length and slow-motion effects but mitigated by its lack of nudity and any physical sexual thrusting. Therefore, the scene does not exceed moderate and, as such, can be accommodated within the M classification with consumer advice of “sex scene”.

Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Television – Season 2 is an online comedy series in which Ryan partners a police officer and attends crime scenes as part of a faux-LAPD initiative. Each episode was classified separately, however, all contained strong coarse language. Additionally, some episodes contained themes, sexual references, violence and injury detail which imparted a moderate impact, necessitating consumer advice, as applicable for each episode, for “violence”, “sexual references” and “injury detail”. The injury detail consisted of brief depictions of objects which had been used as weapons protruding from bodies at crime scenes. Objects included a pyramid-shaped award and a toothbrush. Owing to the brevity of the scenes, the small amount of blood detail, and the comedic tone of the series, these depictions could be accommodated within the M classification.

Three films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were classified this year: Captain Marvel and Spiderman: Far From Home were given consumer advice of “action violence”; Avengers: Endgame was given consumer advice of “violence”.

Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers, a human who has become a Cree warrior with no memories of her past. She follows a series of unearthed memories to Earth, in a race to stop an alien race called Skrulls from retrieving a piece of technology. The alien characters fight with futuristic weapons such as energised swords and firearms that shoot balls of energy and cause explosions. In Spiderman: Far From Home Peter Parker goes on a student trip abroad before being recruited, as Spider-Man, to battle a group of giant monsters, known as the Elementals, alongside the previously unknown Mysterio. When he befriends Mysterio and hands over control of a powerful piece of technology, he quickly realises that Mysterio is not who he seems and that he has placed his friends in danger. Given both of the films focus on fantastic, large-scale action sequences, the Board considered that the treatment of themes and violence imparted an impact which does not exceed moderate. Consumer advice of “action violence” adequately described the most impactful content and subsumed the thematic element.

The Avengers: Endgame is the fourth instalment in the Avengers series of films, which feature multiple characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Endgame, the Avengers attempt to reverse the events of the previous film, Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos erased half of the population of the universe. The film contained realistic violence, including the use of conventional weaponry and blood detail. In an early scene of the film, the Avengers track down and capture Thanos. They disarm him by cutting off his hand on which he wears the Infinity Stone Gauntlet. When he refuses to help them reverse the “Snap”, Thor beheads him in a fit of rage. No blood or wound detail is depicted. In another scene, Hawkeye confronts a man while standing on a street in the rain. They engage in a fight using samurai swords, slashing at each other while blocking the other’s strikes. Hawkeye steps past the man and a slicing sound is heard, implicitly Hawkeye slashing the man’s side. The man’s eyes go wide before he recovers and attacks Hawkeye again. Hawkeye steps past the man again, implicitly slicing the man’s throat. The man’s face shows shock as he presses a hand to the implied wound. Blood detail is seen on the man’s hand as he sinks to his knees. In a mid-shot, Hawkeye uses a downward strike to implicitly kill the man, who is out of frame. As Hawkeye leaves the scene, the man is seen lying on the ground. In the Board’s opinion, the presence of injury and blood detail, inflicted by conventional weapons, required consumer advice of “violence”.

Poster for Backtrack Boys
MA 15+ classification marking

Out of the total of 2,399 commercial films classified in 2018–19, 587 films were classified MA 15+.

Films classified in the reporting period include: The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil; American Gothic – The Complete Series; Future Man Season 1; Cheech & Chong’s: Up In Smoke; Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Season 15 – Part 1; BlacKkKlansman; American Horror Story – Cult; Cold Pursuit; The Girl In The Spider’s Web; Opera National de Paris: Lady MacBeth de Mzensk; Thugs of Hindostan; and 30 Nights of Sex.

Boy Erased is an American dramatic film about Jared, the son of a Baptist preacher, who is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being ‘outed’ to his parents. The film contains one scene of sexual violence that is strong in impact. In the Board’s opinion, this portrayal was the single most impactful classifiable element in the film, so it received consumer advice of “a scene of strong sexual violence”.

They Shall Not Grow Old is a British and New Zealand co-produced documentary which uses state-of-the-art technology to restore archival black and white footage, recreating it in colour to depict the realities of war. The Board considered themes and violence to be inextricably linked owing to colourised depictions of post-action visuals throughout the film. These depictions include dismemberment by explosion as well as detailed shrapnel injuries and bullet wounds. In one scene, an old soldier relates finding a soldier who was alive but badly wounded and missing parts of his body. The old soldier implies that he shot the wounded man, saying, “I put him out of his misery.” The corpse of a soldier with a bloody bullet wound to the head is depicted lying in a shell hole. In another scene, the broken and dismembered bodies of soldiers and horses are viewed lying in the mud after an assault of shells. A significant amount of blood is evident on the ground. The bodies are in varying states of dismemberment, some with gaping wounds. The film’s consumer advice was “strong war themes and injury detail”.

The South Korean film Parasite (in Korean with English subtitles), is a social horror film, in which a poor family manipulates its way into the home of a rich family by becoming the household staff. The previous staff who they displaced come back to haunt them when they discover secret spaces within the house. The film climaxes with a bloody confrontation, featuring knives and other opportunistic weapons, accompanied by generous blood detail. The film’s consumer advice was “strong violence”.

The impact of material at the MA 15+ classification is strong, however, very strong coarse language starting with the letter ‘c’ (and its derivatives) is generally accommodated at MA 15+ provided it is infrequent and is not aggressive.

One such film is Backtrack Boys, an Australian documentary by Catherine Scott, which follows Bernie Shakeshaft and three boys involved in the “Paws Up” program, which helps troubled kids by teaching them to work with dogs. The boys are given a dog when they arrive and are taught to train them in the dog high jump. They travel to regional shows where the boys compete with their dogs. The film contains two uses of very strong coarse language (both by boys), including an utterance by a ten year old.

Another film is The Favourite, a black comedy period film, loosely based on historical events surrounding Abigail Masham and Sarah Churchill as they fought for the attention of Queen Anne during the late 17th century. The film has an irreverent and bombastic tone as the most powerful women in England at the time vie for control of the kingdom. Very strong coarse language is used several times throughout the film.

A third film, If Beale Street Could Talk is an American dramatic film, set in the 1970s, which follows a young African-American couple, Tish and Fonny in Harlem, New York. Based on a book by James Baldwin, the couple struggle against racism and societal attitudes of the time. At the same time that Tish becomes pregnant, Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. The film follows her struggle to free him while raising their son.

All three films were given consumer advice of “strong coarse language”, despite their diverse thematic content, which was able to be accommodated at a lower level.

Wayne is an online dramatic series, consisting of ten episodes (classified separately), which follows Wayne, a troubled 16-year-old with a heart of gold. When his father dies, he sets off to Florida to recover his father’s precious stolen car. Throughout the series, he and his friend Del, are pursued by her family and the police before Wayne makes a final attempt to take the car back from small-time criminals Reggie and Calvin. Every episode was given consumer advice of “strong coarse language” owing to the frequent and aggressive use of strong coarse language, with the exception of one episode which contained a single use of very strong coarse language. In some episodes, the frequency of strong, aggressive coarse language exceeded two instances per minute.

The Third Wife is a dramatic film (in Vietnamese with English subtitles), containing strong themes, such as underage marriage to an older man, infidelity and suicide, as well as sex scenes which are also strong in impact. The film follows 14-year-old May, who becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner. As she navigates the politics of domestic life, she is taken by surprise by her previously hidden desires after she follows her husband’s second wife, Xuan, into the jungle and witnesses her engaging in sexual intercourse with her husband’s oldest son. The affair causes significant friction within the family when the first-born son refuses to marry and insists in private that he loves Xuan. There is one scene of implied sexual activity which involves the 14-year-old May and her husband on her wedding night. Although there are several camera angles which reveal May’s breasts, the implied sexual activity is depicted in a side-shot which shows only their upper bodies. Sexual activity is implied through small movements of their upper bodies and audio cues, such as sighs and gasps. The depictions of Xuan and the first-born son engaged in sexual activity feature full length shots, from a distance, with enthusiastic thrusting and implied cunnilingus. In the opinion of the Board, given the context of the 19th century time period and the cultural significance expressed within the film of marriage and fertility, the thematic content was able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The film was given consumer advice of “strong themes and sex scenes”.

Roma is a Mexican (in Spanish with English subtitles) black-and-white drama which follows a year in the life of a young maid for a middle-class family in Mexico City. The film contains strong themes in the form of a stillbirth and grief. In an extended scene, Cleo gives birth to a stillborn baby. She is put in stirrups in a birthing room full of women yelling and groaning in pain. A doctor checks for the baby’s heartbeat and can’t find it. Cleo, who is increasingly distressed, is placed on a gurney and wheeled into surgery. At the beginning of an extended mid-shot, she implicitly gives birth to a limp and lifeless baby girl. The umbilical cord is cut, before two doctors perform CPR on the baby in the background of the shot. The distressed Cleo watches on as they unsuccessfully continue, failing to find a heartbeat after each attempt. Eventually, one of the doctors says to Cleo, “Your baby was born dead.” He then asks Cleo if she wants to hold the baby and she holds it in her arms, sobbing as she does so. He then tells her to give the baby back, telling her to say goodbye, and she reluctantly does so. As Cleo continues to watch, the doctors clean and then wrap the baby’s body in linen in the background of the shot. The film also contains a scene of nudity which has a strong impact. Fermin emerges from a bathroom completely naked and performs a martial arts demonstration for Cleo, who lies watching on a bed. His flaccid penis dangles and jiggles as he performs a variety of athletic movements in the lingering mid-shot. The Board considered that Fermin’s demonstration created a focus on his nudity, creating an impact which exceeded moderate. The film was given consumer advice of “strong themes and nudity”.

Pet Sematary is an American horror film based on the Stephen King novel and 1989 film of the same name. The film features large amounts of blood detail and detailed depictions of injury. At one point, a man’s brain detail is depicted, with protruding fragments of broken skull visible below it. The film was given consumer advice of “strong horror themes and violence”.

Rampant is a South Korean (in Korean with English subtitles) zombie-thriller film set in the medieval palace of Joseon, in which Prince Ganglim must defeat the zombie epidemic and accept his future as the new King. In one of the opening scenes, Prince Ganglim battles the zombies with his broadsword in a frenzied combat sequence. During the sequence, a zombie is depicted in a close-up camera angle implicitly biting a man’s neck. The zombie looks up, revealing the wound in its victim’s neck, as dark blood trickles out of its gaping mouth. Later, in the same sequence, in a wide-shot, Prince Ganglim is depicted implicitly decapitating a zombie. The zombie’s head falls cleanly off with one swing of his broadsword and rolls along the ground before the body collapses out of frame. The film was given consumer advice of “strong themes and violence”.

Killing Eve Season 1 follows the obsessive relationship between Eve, a security operative in a secret MI6 unit, and Villanelle, a Russian female assassin. The two women become obsessed with each other as their paths cross with each assassination. Other thematic content includes a woman who commits suicide after becoming entangled in Villanelle’s mysterious life. The series was given consumer advice of “strong themes, violence and a sex scene”.

Beautiful Boy is an American dramatic film that chronicles meth addiction and recovery through the eyes of David Sheff, who watches his son Nic as he struggles with his addiction. The film includes depictions of injections of methamphetamines, including several steps of preparation and implied drug effects. In one scene, Nic is depicted sitting in a bathroom stall opening a small wooden box while his parents attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Nic is depicted using a knife to scrape a substance from the box and smearing it into a spoon, which he heats with a lighter. He rolls up his sleeve, revealing bruising in the crook of his forearm and several small, scabbed needle puncture wounds. Nic implicitly injects himself with a syringe and slowly slumps to the floor of the stall, twitching as he slips out of consciousness. In the following scene, a doctor tells Nic’s parents, “It’s close to a miracle that Nic survived with all the drugs in his body.” Owing to the detailed depictions of injecting illegal substances, the film was classified MA 15+ and given consumer advice of “strong drug use”.

Poster for The Furies
R 18+ classification marking

Out of the total of 2,399 commercial films classified in 2018–19, 29 films were classified R 18+.

Films classified in the reporting period include: The House That Jack Built; The Walking Dead Season 8; Preacher Season 3; A Cam Life; The Deuce Season 2; Monster Party; The Furies; and Habit.

Lords of Chaos is a black comedy/drama film, based on true events in Norway. The film follows a series of crimes which surrounded the black metal bands, Mayhem and Burzum, during the 1990s. The film contains a graphic depiction of suicide, when Per, also known as Dead, explicitly cuts his forearms. Deep wounds and extensive blood detail are depicted. In a close-up shot, he explicitly slits his own throat while listening to a voicemail from one of his bandmates, Euronymous. Extensive blood detail soaks his white t-shirt as he picks up a shotgun and places the barrel against his forehead. He pulls the trigger, causing his head to explode and blood to spray onto the wall behind him. Dead slumps to the mattress and a series of close-ups depict pieces of skull and brain matter that have been sprayed across the room and his suicide note, which features the message, “Excuse all the blood. Let the party begin!” Throughout the remainder of the film, Dead’s former bandmates capitalise on the notoriety brought about by Dead’s suicide and Euronymous bullies the new band-member, Varg.

The film climaxes with an extended sequence of detailed violence, as Varg attacks Euronymous. The sequence includes multiple stab wounds and extensive blood detail, including sprays and spurts. Varg’s rampage concludes with a close-up shot of Varg’s knife penetrating Euronymous’s temple. A close-up shot lingers on Euronymous’s face and blood-splattered upper body before Varg leans down to retrieve the knife. He pulls on the knife handle, raising Euronymous’s head from the floor. Euronymous’s eyelids pull open, revealing that his eyes have rolled back, but the knife remains stuck in his head. Varg puts a foot on Euronymous’s head and twists the knife free. Blood gushes from the wound as the knife is removed, splashing onto the floor. The Board accommodated the film within the R18+ category, with consumer advice of “high impact suicide scene and violence”.

Adrenochrome is psychological horror film, in which a young veteran, West, becomes mixed up with a gang of drug dealers who extract human adrenal glands in pursuit of a psychedelic compound. Throughout the film, a gang of masked men attack various random characters with knives. The men hold down their victim and stab them in the side with a knife, sometimes repeatedly. They also sometimes jiggle the knife around in the wound. In close-up shots, their blood-covered hands are depicted at the wound site, before they produce a small bloody chunk of flesh. This is either put into a jar or immediately consumed, leaving blood detail smeared on their faces. The gland appears to induce hallucinations. When the gang’s leader kidnaps West’s girlfriend, he follows them into the desert, resulting in a brutal confrontation with chainsaws and automatic firearms. The inextricably linked drug references and violence are considered high in impact. The film’s consumer advice was “high impact drug themes and violence”.

A Prayer Before Dawn is a dramatised true story of an English boxer who was imprisoned in Thailand and fought in Muay Thai bouts to earn his freedom. It contains a scene of sexual violence in which a fellow prisoner is implicitly raped by a gang of other prisoners. In the Board’s opinion, the impact of the sexual violence was high, owing to it being inextricably linked with themes of suicide and brutality and the heightening effect of the claustrophobic camera angles and realism. The film’s consumer advice was “high impact themes and sexual violence”.

Aniara is a Swedish science fiction film, in which a spaceship headed to Mars is knocked off course, causing the humans on board to consider their place in the universe. The film contained sexual activity that is realistically simulated and nudity which is inextricably linked and high in viewing impact. The film’s consumer advice was “high impact sexualised nudity”.

X 18+ classification marking

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. These films can only be legally sold or hired in the Australian Capital Territory and parts of the Northern Territory.

Films classified X 18+ can contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults, but the classification does not allow violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence or coercion. Nor does it allow consensual depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers.

No commercial films were classified X 18+ during 2018–19.

Refused Classification (RC)

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.

No commercial films were classified RC in the reporting period.

Computer games

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

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

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

The following discussions and statistics about computer games relate solely to those decisions made by the Board and exclude those made by the IARC tool.

Cover of Official game of the ashes – Cricket 19
G classification marking

The G classification is for a general audience. 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.

Out of the total of 392 computer games classified in 2018–19, 91 computer games were classified G.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Astro Bot Rescue Mission; Cricket 19; Fitness Boxing; Just Dance 2019; Out of the Park Baseball 20; RGX: Showdown; Songbird Symphony; Team Sonic Racing; Wattam.

Atari Flashback Classics is a compilation of 150 classic “retro” games originally available on the Atari 2600 and 5200 systems and Atari arcade cabinets. Two of the games, Black Jack and Casino, simulate card games with white cards placed on a green background. Depictions of the game’s original box art (which the player is able to select from the main game menu) indicate a casino environment, with chips and cards stacked on a table. The game, Slot Machine, simulates a slot or poker machine, with a depiction of a silver slot machine with the word “Win” above it on the original box art. The Board noted that the impact of the simulated gambling was heavily mitigated by the highly stylised, heavily pixelated graphics used in both games. Playing cards in Black Jack do not resemble real-world playing cards. The representation of a slot machine consists of three vertical lines with pixelated symbols such as bells and cars on each line. Owing to the highly stylised graphics relating to gambling images, the Board did not use “simulated gambling” in the consumer advice, settling in the circumstances for “very mild themes and violence, online interactivity”, to convey the most impactful content.

Supermarket Shriek is a humorous shopping-cart racing game where the trajectory of the cart is controlled by the shrieking of its occupants. The player pilots a shopping-cart containing a man and a goat through a variety of obstacle courses set in different shops and businesses. The game utilises a top-down isometric perspective, a humorous tone and colourful graphics. Each level contains environmental hazards such as fire-pits, pools of water and swinging blades, which the player must avoid to successfully proceed. The game’s consumer advice was “very mild themes”.

Unicorn Princess is a third-person role-playing game, in which the player controls Leila, a young girl who completes quests which involve helping the local townspeople such as collecting miniature figurines and finding a lost rabbit. A unicorn regularly contacts Leila to ask for her help in the Dream World. Leila must look after her horse, such as brushing it and not riding too fast. The game’s consumer advice was “general”.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a platforming game in which players use anthropomorphised characters, Yooka and Laylee, to navigate a mixture of colourful 2D and 3D levels. They interact with other characters, collect items, and fight enemies. The player is capable of performing a range of attacks including swirling melee attacks, and the use of cannon balls and fire attacks while playing as a ship. The violence contains no wound detail or blood, with damage typically being depicted through damage-taking animations and brightly coloured, stylised effects such as impact flashes and stars. The crude humour is typically delivered through on-screen text, with the lack of spoken dialogue mitigating the impact of the humour. The game also contains infrequent use of very mild coarse language in the form of the word “jerks”. The game’s consumer advice was “very mild violence, crude humour and coarse language”.

Cover of Anno 1800
PG classification marking

Computer games in this classification contain content that a child may find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of a parent or guardian, who needs to make decisions about appropriate entertainment material for their child.

Out of the total of 392 computer games classified in 2018–19, 108 computer games were classified PG.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition; Anno 1800; Collection of Mana; Etrian Odyssey Nexus; Contra Anniversary Collection; Indivisible; Jumanji the Video Game; Knowledge is Power: Decades; Northgard; Pokemon Sword; The Messenger; Splasher.

11-11 Memories Retold is a narrative adventure game set during the First World War in which the player takes the twin roles of Harry, a Canadian photographer, and Kurt, a German engineer. The game uses a highly stylised graphics engine to depict characters and environments in the style of animated Impressionist paintings. Gameplay consists of completing objectives to progress the narrative paths of both characters. The most impactful content occurs during narrative scenes in which the player’s input is highly limited. For example, at one point in the game, Harry is asked by his commanding officer to take a photograph of him holding a pistol to the head of a German prisoner. The player uses the controller to frame and take a photograph before the commander tells Harry he is no longer needed and should leave the area. A cut scene is triggered in which the camera follows Harry as he walks away. He hears the sound of a pistol firing as the German prisoner is implicitly executed off screen. The game’s highly stylised graphics mitigated the impact of the themes and violence. The game also contains infrequent use of mild coarse language in the form of the word “bastard”. The game’s consumer advice was “mild war themes, violence and coarse language”.

Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy is a single-player narrative game consisting of a series of mini-games featuring a young boy and his pet pelican, Mr Percival, based on the 1964 Australian children’s book. A side-on perspective, with a stylised, cartoon-like graphics engine depicts the game’s coastal South Australian environment and characters. Text excerpts are overlaid on screen to advance the narrative. Thematic content consists of the depiction of the death of Mr Percival at the hands of hunters as he circles in the air trying to protect flying ducks. A brief, slow-motion sequence shows two hunters in the dunes taking aim at Mr Percival as he flies above them. A gunshot sounds and the screen turns black. Overlaid text says, “His voice was drowned out by the roar of the gun.” The screen stays black as another paragraph of text appears, explaining that Mr Percival has been shot and concluding, “And at nine o’clock, Mr Percival died.” The player is then able to play, in a third-person view, as Mr Percival, flying around the environment. The game’s consumer advice was “mild themes”.

Dangerous Driving is a 3D driving game in which players can select from a variety of game-modes in which they are encouraged to drive dangerously in order to eliminate other players or fill-up a boost tank which allows them to drive faster and win races. Typical gameplay requires players to navigate a car from a third-person perspective through realistic 3D environments. Dangerous driving behaviours are indicated by on-screen text which informs players of the behaviour they have engaged in, including “Trading Paint”, “Drift” and “Slam”. When a car has been rammed into, it is often viewed rolling across the road with its doors flying open or flying into the air, flipping, and falling to the ground, causing it to burst into flames, accompanied by the on-screen text, “Takedown”. When the player has been rammed into or nudged off the road, their car is viewed crashing, skidding, or flying into the air and bursting into flames through a distant, third-person perspective. The Board noted that, as no humans were viewed at any point in the game, consumer advice of “mild themes” best described the most impactful content, subsuming the element of violence.

Let’s Sing 2019 is a karaoke-style game in which the player must sing the correct lyrics and melody along with music video clips of popular contemporary music. The game includes online interactivity in the form of multiplayer co-op and challenge modes. During the music video of Bruno Mars’ song, ‘24K Magic’, live-action footage of women in G-string style swimwear is depicted. At one point, the camera tracks along the buttocks of three women wearing the skimpy swimwear dancing next to each other. During another Bruno Mars song, ‘Finesse (Remix)’, a lyric is heard, with accompanying onscreen text, which says, in part, “… fat ass.” The Board noted that other songs included in the collection were edited in order to remove other instances of coarse language from being heard, mouthed in the music video clips, or depicted in onscreen text boxes. The game’s consumer advice was “mild coarse language and sexualised imagery, online interactivity”.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a remake of the fourth game in the Zelda series. The game follows Link as it searches dungeons and battles monsters, solving puzzles in search of eight musical instruments which will awaken the sleeping whale-like deity Wind Fish. The game has no online interactivity. In one section of the game, Link battles a large caterpillar. When attacked by the caterpillar, Link falls from a platform to another area of the environment, in which a number of (implicitly deceased) skeleton creatures hang from chains in the background. In another section of the game, Link is attacked by a shopkeeper who casts a magic electrical spell, shocking Link with a bright power surge-like burst from their hands, and depleting Link’s entire health meter as they spasm. When its health meter is fully depleted, Link falls to the ground, implicitly dead, as text reads “Game Over”. During a boss battle, Link fights a large skeleton, who holds a sword and a shield. Link attempts to stun the enemy, before placing bombs around it, depleting the skeleton’s health until magical sparks burst from its body before it disintegrates in a blast. No blood or injury detail is depicted and no element of the skeleton’s body remains in the environment upon defeat. The game’s consumer advice was “mild fantasy violence”.

Cover of Pharlap
M classification marking

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 392 computer games classified in 2018–19, 109 computer games were classified M.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: American Fugitive; Breathedge; Cabela’s: The Hunt – Championship Edition; Crystar; Decay of Logos; Metal Max: Xeno; Oninaki; Punch Club; Risk of Rain 2; Shenmue III; The Council – Episode 5 – Checkmate; The Quiet Man; Transference; WWE 2K19.

Anthem is a third-person science fiction ‘looter shooter’ game in which the player controls a Freelancer, a mercenary battling alien creatures, insects and enemy soldiers on a mission to recover a mystical relic. The Freelancer character wears an exo-suit, known as a Javelin, which is equipped with a wide range of futuristic guns, melee weapons, cannons, grenades and mortars. Some of the Javelin weapons also use magical elemental forces such as fire, electricity and ice. When defeated, enemy characters – including rival soldiers, alien creatures and insects – either explode in a burst of flame or fall to the ground. There are no depictions of post-mortem damage or blood pools and defeated enemy characters quickly disappear from the environment. The game’s consumer advice was “violence, online interactivity”.

Monstrum is a first-person survival horror game in which the player traverses a procedurally generated abandoned cargo-ship environment, attempting to escape from one of three monsters. Owing to the nature of the gameplay, which involves traversing the eerie environment, hiding from these creatures and paying attention to the player’s surroundings to ensure they can identify the indicators of approaching enemies, the game has a tense horrific tone. When the player is attacked by enemies, their screen’s border turns red with a blood effect. When the player is killed, one of three animations is triggered, depending on which creature defeats them and then the screen’s border goes red with blood, before the game cuts to black. No further blood or injury detail is depicted in any of these death animations. Throughout the game, the ability of the player to interact with the environment is limited, most notably in their inability to fight back when attacked, which heightens the game’s overall horrific tone. The Board noted that consumer advice of horror themes best described the most impactful content and subsumed the element of violence. The game’s consumer advice was “horror themes and coarse language”.

Phar Lap – Horse Racing Challenge is a simulation game in which the player seeks to make money from thoroughbred horse races, by managing a stable and/or placing bets on races. The game features online interactivity in the form of multiplayer modes for up to eight players. Players can choose from several gameplay modes including Owner, Trainer and Punter. They are able to place various bets on the results of horse races, including trifecta and exacta bets, and are given details including the odds and size of the possible cash return. The winnings can be used by the player to place larger bets or, in the Owner and Trainer modes, to make improvements to their stable, such as buying new horses or paying for additional training. In multiplayer modes, the player with the most money after the completion of a set number of races is declared the winner. The game’s consumer advice was “simulated gambling”.

Sega Mega Drive Mini is a plug-and-play video games console that contains 44 classic games from the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive era, including one-on-one fighting games, platformers and role-playing games. Violence occurs in a number of games, usually in a fantasy context, and includes the use of melee weapons (such as swords and clubs) and projectile weapons (including guns, lasers and magical bursts). In Streetfighter 2: Special Champion Edition, players use a variety of kicks, punches, throws and projectile attacks to fight a computer- or player-controlled opponent in a series of rounds and matches. Hits are typically represented by pixelated flashes of light. However, at the conclusion of each match, an inset post-action visual depicts the face of the defeated player, with pixelated blood and injury detail (the character of Vega, for example, has the mask he wears split open). In Eternal Champions, players are able to execute “finishing moves” called Overkills at the end of a match. These trigger short animations depicting the defeated opponent being killed in various ways. For example, an Overkill execution depicts the defeated opponent tied to a stake and briefly set alight by a burst of pixelated orange flames, leaving a skeleton behind. Depictions of violence are heavily mitigated by the use of stylised, pixelated graphics and thus impart an impact which does not exceed moderate. The game’s consumer advice was “violence”.

Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold is a rogue-like role-playing game in which the player explores randomly generated dungeons for loot, recruiting “snacks” to aid them on their journey. In one section of the game, in the context of a non-interactive cut-scene, one character whips another repeatedly in a crude sexual act. The Wicked Whipper – a lit candle with an oval-like body – wears black underwear, shoes and a black eye mask, rendered unrealistically and cartoon-like, in line with the game’s highly stylised and rounded art style. The Wicked Whipper carries a forked tail-like whip. In the non-interactive sequence with a somewhat distant perspective, you talk to its partner, Peter Pancake, who says they have been having “sessions” to “learn how to express” their “feelings”, before insisting, “Don’t get the wrong idea, we’re not hurting anyone with what we’re doing.” After the conversation concludes, Peter – a stocky, fully-clothed man – is repeatedly whipped by the Wicked Whipper, with pink love heart animations exuding from his body. The Wicked Whipper says, “Take that, you little girl!” to which Peter replies, “I’m not a girl! But I will take it! More! More!” The Wicked Whipper retorts, “You are a nerd! Take that!” The Board noted that the impact of the themes and sex was mitigated by the game’s highly stylised art style and the comedic context. The game’s consumer advice was “crude sexual humour, online interactivity”.

Super Neptunia RPG is a 2D, side-scrolling Japanese role-playing game with a turn-based combat mechanic. The player takes the role of a supernatural goddess, Neptune, who wakes in a familiar world with no memory of anything but her name. With the help of a mysterious young woman, Chrome, she embarks on a quest to regain her memories in a fantasy world obsessed by video games. The game contains no online interactivity. The game uses stylised graphics with anime-style characters depicted in both the side-scrolling game engine and full-screen still images used to advance the narrative. Dialogue is voiced in English, with cartoon-style speech balloons appearing simultaneously. Still-image screens contain no dialogue but are subtitled at the bottom of the screen. One of these still images, which appears before and after Neptune enters a battle sequence, presents a voyeuristic upskirt-shot of Neptune (who is facing the camera), revealing her white underwear. One sequence depicts a female engineer presenting Chrome with a hand-held game that features Chrome as the central character. Chrome is confused, but the engineer replies, “Didn’t you say ‘it would be good to have a 3D game where people could play with me’?” She then explains that the game allows anyone “to go on a date with Miss Chrome” and is called “Love Chrome Plus”. Filyn, excited by the idea, says, “I can go on a date with Chromey?!” She then asks, “What about kissing?!” The engineer replies, “Of course! The kissing system is incredibly advanced!” Filyn replies, “Can I look up her skirt, too?!” The engineer says, “Oh yeah, baby! As much as you want!” The Board noted that, despite the game’s stylised visuals and light-hearted, often satiric tone, the combination of sexualised imagery and sexual references over the course of the game imparted a moderate impact. The game’s consumer advice was “sexualised imagery and sexual references”.

Cover of Red Dead Redemption II
MA 15+ classification marking

Computer games classified MA 15+ are not suitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category, which means that people under 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to buy or hire an MA 15+ computer game. MA 15+ computer games contain themes, violence, sex, language, drug use or nudity which have a strong impact.

Out of the total of 392 computer games classified in 2018–19, 75 computer games were classified MA 15+.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: Close to the Sun; Darksiders 3; Fallout 76; Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2; Guts and Glory; Judgment; Just Cause 4; Our World is Ended; The Sinking City; World War Z.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is a military-style first-person shooter. The game has online interactivity in the form of the multiplayer mode in which players can communicate through both audio and text. Gameplay is presented in a first-person perspective, with the player’s current weapon visible in the foreground, usually a high-powered automatic firearm. During a cut scene at the beginning of the Colosseum battle, a group of characters inhale a mystical green smoke from a cauldron and are transported to a gladiator pen during the Roman era. They watch an official use an artefact on a stage, causing the slaves who are chained in a circle around him to transform into growling snarling zombies who attack the guards attempting to contain them.

The zombies leap onto the guards, tearing them apart with their hands. Gore and blood detail spray as the zombies shove handfuls of gore into their mouths. Blood spatter appears on the screen. The gate of the pen holding the characters is raised and they walk out, armed with swords, axes and shields. As the zombies attack the characters, large sprays of blood are elicited by sword and axe slashes. One zombie is explicitly decapitated from behind, accompanied by a large spray of blood, in a double sword attack. One character knocks a zombie to the ground before raising their sword over their head and slashing downwards at the zombie, which is out of frame. A spray of blood and gore spurts into frame, accompanied by a flying disembodied leg. Another zombie is explicitly bisected down its middle, with blood detail pouring out of the wound as the body falls out of frame. As the last zombie is killed, a scream from across the arena is heard before a struggling slave is seen tied by the wrists to two posts. As he writhes, a crustacean-like claw erupts from his stomach in a spray of blood and gore before a demon-like creature erupts from his body and roars close to camera. Throughout the scene, wound detail is largely obscured by the camera angles and the body of the victim or by the injury occurring just out of frame with only the blood spray viewed on screen. The Board noted that the impact of the thematic content and violence was mitigated by the supernatural context, the stylised graphics and the most impactful violence being limited to cut scenes. Therefore, the game was accommodated within the upper limit of the MA 15+ classification. The game’s consumer advice was “strong supernatural themes and bloody violence, online interactivity”.

Catherine: Full Body is a modified version of the previously classified game Catherine Classic, a heavily story-driven, puzzle-platformer, adventure game. Modifications include new characters and animated sequences, additional stages and online interactivity in the form of multiplayer. The playable character, Vincent, is a young man who has recently cheated on his pregnant girlfriend Katherine with the irresistible, free-spirit Catherine. The game transitions between animated cut scenes and puzzle stages set in a surreal nightmare world, as Vincent is tormented by his increasingly complex lies and feelings of guilt. Throughout the game, Vincent finds himself in a bloody, surreal, nightmarish world of crumbling block towers which he must climb to escape deadly traps or monsters intent on killing him. Grotesque, menacing and monstrous figures include a demonic bride, a chainsaw-wielding baby, a giant in an armchair armed with a handgun and a huge creature with buttocks for a face, long dangling legs and razor-sharp teeth embedded in its anus. Vincent is depicted stabbed, crushed, shot and bitten with generous blood effects throughout these nightmare sequences. Cheating, sex and sexuality are central to the storyline with characters depicted in bed together, implicitly nude, before, during and after having had sex. The characters refer to sex and discuss their sex lives throughout. The player, as Vincent, is implicitly in a sexual relationship with both Katherine, his long-term girlfriend, and Catherine, a girl he meets when drunk in a bar. On multiple occasions, female characters are depicted in sexualised clothing and underwear with emphasis given to cleavage. Vincent is depicted surrounded by breast nude demon women with one depicted caressing his leg, and both Catherine and Katherine send sexual images of themselves to Vincent’s mobile. The game’s consumer advice was “strong sexual themes and violence, online interactivity”. The Board noted that owing to shifting Board standards over time and the change in classification legislation, consumer advice for alcohol themes and coarse language, which appeared on the originally classified version of the game Catherine Classic, was no longer warranted.

Gun Gun Pixies is a visual novel with third-person shooter elements in which the player, as one of two pixie characters – Bee-Tan or Kame-Pon – proceeds through various 3D platforming levels, shooting enemies and collecting power ups. The female pixie characters can be dressed in a variety of different outfits that can be selected from a list of options by the player. The majority of the wardrobe options are lingerie items in various styles and colours. The most impactful example, ‘Sweet chocolate’, consists of dollops of chocolate that cover the pixies’ nipples and a thin strip of chocolate-block squares that covers the character’s groin. Players are able to rotate the pixie characters and zoom in for close-up views of their breasts and groins, including upskirt views of the pixies in various short dresses.

The pixies are equipped with guns that fire ‘happy bullets’, which are depicted as glowing flashes of light, at various female characters who, as the environment is viewed from the perspective of the pixie characters, appear as giants. The women are depicted in their underwear performing various yoga-style poses or bathing implicitly nude, with soap suds obscuring their breasts. As the pixies fire at targets on the women – including their buttocks, breasts and groins – the women moan and heart-shapes burst from their bodies. The pixies are also able to leap onto the women and rub against parts of their bodies, such as their breasts, to make the heart-shaped tokens appear.

As the player collects hearts to progress through the level, close-ups of the women’s faces depict them leaning back with a look of pleasure accompanied by phrases such as ‘endorphins expanding’ or ‘endorphins exploding’. Attacks on the player characters by enemy creatures results in their clothing becoming damaged. If the player character is repeatedly damaged their clothing disappears and they are depicted as implicitly nude, with blurred areas of white light obscuring their breasts and genitals. The game’s consumer advice was “strong sexualised imagery”.

Red Dead Redemption II is an open-world action adventure game set in the American frontier of 1899 in which the player takes the role of Arthur Morgan, the lead enforcer of the outlaw Dutch van der Linde’s gang. At one point in the game, Arthur may encounter a depressed Confederate veteran of the American Civil War. In a non-interactive cut scene, Arthur enters a room and sees the man sitting on a single bed, talking to himself about the war. In a front-on camera shot, the man then takes a pistol, holds it to the side of his head and, after saying, “Our fight will live on!”, pulls the trigger. Blood spurts from the exit wound at the left of the man’s head and splatters against the wall and his body slumps sideways onto the bed.

The Board noted that the game contained thematic treatment of the use of cocaine chewing gum during the period in which the game is set, which, given the historical context, could be accommodated at a lower classification. This consisted of the player’s character being able to buy and use a chewing gum in which cocaine was used as an ingredient. Using the gum gave the player’s character a short-term stamina stat increase, which lasted for three in-game hours. However, it also resulted in a decrease in the stamina core stat, weakening the character’s progression overall.

As such, the Board did not consider this use of gum to be drug use, nor the result of such use to constitute an incentive or reward. Violence in the game occurs through hand-to-hand combat and ranged combat using an array of weapons including pistols, bows, rifles, shotguns and sniper rifles.

Weapon hits are accompanied by blood effects, including mists and splatters, which are more visually impactful if the player is using a weapon such as a shotgun at close range. Decapitations are possible with either the shotgun or sniper rifle, with enemies’ heads exploding in a stylised, exaggerated burst of blood. Execution animations may be triggered in certain circumstances. For example, if the player character is armed with a shotgun, the player can tackle an enemy to the ground, triggering a brief animation in which the shotgun is fired point-blank at the enemy’s head, which explodes in a stylised burst of blood. The game’s consumer advice was “strong themes and violence, online interactivity”.

Soma is a first-person science fiction/psychological thriller game, in which the player is tasked with rescuing the consciousness of their crewmates in an underwater research centre while avoiding mutated humans and rogue robots. The game utilises a first-person perspective as the player moves through an underwater research facility which has been partially flooded after a disaster involving rogue artificial intelligence. The player has no offensive capability and must avoid threats, such as mutated humans and fish, by hiding or running. The game uses tactile movement mechanisms, including moving the mouse to imitate turning handles and throwing objects.

Throughout the game, a menacing soundscape is used and the player encounters various threats, including aggressive mutated humans. Radio messages that took place during the disaster that occurred in the research facility include panicked yelling and screams from the now-implicitly-dead crewmembers.

During some stages of the game, the player comes across the bodies of deceased crewmembers, some of which are depicted with no heads and blood and gore on the floor around them. Attempting to interact with the bodies causes audio flashbacks to when they died. When the player reaches the heart of the WAU, the artificial intelligence responsible for the mutations, the character must reach inside a fleshy organism. The organism sprouts teeth and grabs hold of the character’s arm as they struggle and scream. As the character pulls back, blood detail floods the water. The character lifts their arm up to look at it, revealing the broken, sparking outer shell of the robot suit and a wrist injury where their hand has been bitten off. The game’s consumer advice was “strong horror themes”.

Trover Saves the Universe is an action platform game in which Trover searches an alien world for dogs that have been stolen by Glorkon, a beaked lunatic who has stuffed them into his eye holes and is using their life essence to destroy the universe. The game’s consumer advice was “strong crude humour and coarse language”.

Cover of Mortal Kombat 11
R 18+ classification marking

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, see and play 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 392 computer games classified in 2018–19, seven computer games were classified R 18+.

Computer games classified in the reporting period include: This is the Police 2; Resident Evil 2; Mortal Kombat 11; Zombie Army 4: Dead War.

Mortal Kombat 11 is an arena-style, one-on-one fighting game in which players compete as a variety of human and human-like characters to win a fantasy fighting tournament. The violence of the highest impact occurs during the brutalities and fatalities – the highly stylised, exaggerated “finishing moves” that can only be triggered at the end of a match. If the player successfully executes the move within the required time frame, a non-interactive full motion video is triggered depicting the winning character explicitly slaughtering his or her opponent. The visual depictions of violence include copious amounts of blood spray and pooling and are accompanied by sound effects that heighten impact, including ripping, crunching and squirting effects. An example of a brutality is when a character, Jax Briggs, shoots his opponent in the chest with a grenade-gun. The grenade explodes, sending his opponent’s head flying through the air, causing their arms to burst off in a shower of gore and blood. Blood continues to gush from the opponent’s neck as the dismembered body lies on the ground. The Board noted that the violence, while high in impact, was mitigated by the fantasy context and its highly stylised, exaggerated nature, and allowed the game to sit within the R 18+ classification. The game’s consumer advice was “high impact violence, blood and gore, online interactivity”.

Uppers is a Japanese third-person action brawler in which the player controls one of two young drifters, Ranma and Michiru, as they battle numerous enemies in melee combat on Last Resort Island with the aim of impressing female characters gathered at the edges of each fighting area. The game uses a third-person perspective and a highly stylised graphics engine, with characters and environments rendered in a cartoon-like anime style. All of the female characters depicted appear as fantasy representations of an indeterminate age. If an enemy is knocked out in front of a female spectator, a small puff of air blows up the spectator’s skirt, briefly revealing her underpants and triggering a “Panty Lottery”, in which three pairs of pants spin up in the manner of a slot machine at the top left corner of the screen. If all three pants match, the player receives a health bonus, with an on-screen message reading, “Player health recovered 10%”. If a “rare” pair of pants is revealed, a “Panty Slots” mini-game is triggered in which two of the females reveal their pants, pictured from the front and back in full screen, and the player must rapidly press a controller button in order to get the third female to reveal her pants. This is also depicted in full screen, with the female shown in a sexually-suggestive position, such as sitting on the floor with her legs splayed beneath her. A “Lucky L” event may also be triggered if the player fulfils certain challenge conditions or the playing character’s health bar reaches zero. When this occurs, a short animation shows the character either staggering towards or being propelled into the “Support Queen”, with the character’s face landing either between the female’s breasts, with a hand squeezing each breast, or between the spread legs of the seated female in a position suggestive of the act of cunnilingus. The playing character is then rewarded with a substantial health boost, enabling the player to continue fighting. The game’s consumer advice was “sexual activity related to incentives and rewards”.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a first-person shooter, set in an alternate reality Paris in the 1980s, in which the player takes the role of one of BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, Jess and Soph who must rescue their father from a Nazi general, General Brandt. The game uses a 3D graphics engine to create a fantasy “alternate universe” with character models and environments rendered in realistic detail. Violence is interactive within gameplay and involves the player attacking humans and robots using both ranged and melee weapons. Blood effects are copious and some attacks result in dismemberment with bloody, dismembered limbs and/or internal organs viewed post-action. Significant injury detail such as fleshy neck and limb stumps and bloody gut wounds are also depicted. Violence is also rendered within cut scenes which progress the storyline. For example, during one cut scene the head of a Nazi soldier explodes in a fountain-like shower of blood as he raises his weapon at one of the sisters and is shot from off screen by the other. Blood covers the young woman’s face, who spits and says to her sister, “Oh, my God, I got his brains in my mouth!” A later post-action visual briefly depicts the bloodied stump of the dead man’s neck in the foreground of the screen. The Board noted that, although mitigated to an extent by the game’s fantasy science fiction narrative, depictions of violence throughout the game cumulatively imparted a high impact. The game’s consumer advice was “high impact violence, online interactivity”.

Yu-No: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World is a narrative-driven, point-and-click graphic novel computer game with limited player interactivity. The narrative follows a young man, Takuya Arima, who finds an inter-dimensional travel device which leads him into romantic and sexual interactions with a range of women.

The interactive element of the game’s point-and-click mechanic involves still images of women in revealing positions with parts of their bodies highlighted by points that the player can click on. The points include, but are not limited to, ‘Bra’, ‘Chest’, ‘Butt’ and ‘Underwear’. In one such interaction, an upskirt image of a woman takes up the whole screen with a specific focus and detail on her G-string, which highlights her barely-concealed vagina, which is pushed towards the camera. The player can opt to click on the ‘Underwear’ over her vagina, which causes the woman to giggle and, at times, moan. In another sequence, when the player clicks on the woman’s ‘Chest’, the woman says, “Try to be more gentle.” The game’s consumer advice was “high impact sexualised imagery, sexual themes and references to sexual violence”.

Refused Classification (RC)

In 2018–19, out of the total of 392 computer games classified, two computer games were classified RC: Dayz; and Song of Memories.

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.

Dayz is a survival game set in the fictional post-Soviet Republic of Chernarus, where a mysterious plague has turned most of the population into zombies. The game is set in first and third person where, as a survivor, the player must scavenge the land for food, water, weapons and medicine while killing or avoiding the “infected.” The game also includes online interactivity, in which the player can kill, avoid or co-operate with other players in an effort to survive the outbreak.

In the opinion of the Board, this game warranted a Refused Classification (RC) classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table (clause 4) of the Code. Item 1(a) provides, in part, that computer games that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of … drug use, … 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” are to be Refused Classification.

The aim of Dayz is to stay alive and healthy during the conditions of the outbreak. The player’s health is measured by vital statistics, including food, water and temperature. When these statistics are low, a player is closer to death, and when they are high, a player’s chance of survival is stronger. Throughout general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry. One of the options to restore the player’s health is a marijuana joint, labelled “cannabis” which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player’s inventory. The player is able to select and use it when their vital statistics are low. When the player smokes the cannabis, their vital statistics of food and water increase and their temperature decreases. Therefore, in the Board’s opinion, cannabis use during the game acts as an incentive/reward to boost overall health and survivability. The Board noted that there were no instances of intoxication resulting from this drug use depicted within the game.

The Games Guidelines state, in part, “interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not permitted” within the G, PG, M or MA 15+ classifications. The Games Guidelines further state, “drug use is permitted” within the R 18+ classification, provided that any “interactive drug use” is not “detailed or realistic”. The Board noted that if the use of cannabis within the context of this game did not act as an incentive or reward, its impact could have been accommodated within the R 18+ classification. Further, if this instance of drug use was absent from the game, the game would have been able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification, with consumer advice of “strong themes and violence”. In the Board’s opinion, the use of drugs (cannabis) as an incentive or reward during the gameplay exceeded what is able to be accommodated within the R 18+ classification and therefore, the game had to be Refused Classification, as “drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted” at any classification level.

Song of Memories is an interactive visual novel with rhythm game elements, in which the player attempts to find their soulmate in the midst of a monster apocalypse. In the Board’s view this game warranted a Refused Classification (RC) classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the computer games table of the Code, which states, “Computer games that: (a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified” will be Refused Classification.

Further, the Games Guidelines state that computer games that exceed the R18+ classification category will be RC. In the R18+ classification category, “actual sexual violence is not permitted. Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.”

Sexual violence is defined in the list of terms in the Games Guidelines as, “Sexual assault or aggression, in which the victim does not consent.” In one section of the game, the player controls Minato Kamishiro as he goes to get rations, warning his female housemates they will be “at risk” if they go outside owing to events which occurred the previous day. The game then flashes back to the previous day, as Minato meets Yuno Wakatsuki on his way to collect rations. Minato accompanies Yuno to the rations tent, where they encounter a group of boys – led by Makoto Asukaya – who decide to kill Yuno, as she is female and can therefore spread a deadly infection. Yuno and Minato protest, as the boys identify themselves as students at the school who were big supporters of Yuno’s gymnastic endeavours, noting “[they] only watched [her] because [she] made [them] hard.” One of the boys then asks Makoto, “Can I borrow Yuno for a bit before we kill her? I’ve always wanted to get to know her better, if you know what I mean…” Yuno protests, saying “N-no… but you… were my fans…” Makoto tells his fellow gang member, “You have weird fetishes, too, man. Don’t blame me if she gets you infected… do with her as you wish.” The man laughs in reply, then states, “Oh, I will definitely do with her as I wish! Okay, hand over Yuno!” Minato refuses, and the player is prompted with a choice tree labelled “My only choice is…” If the player selects “Make an opening and burst through”, the gang strikes Minato and grabs Yuno, triggering a non-interactive cut-scene containing a visual depiction of implied sexual violence. During the cut-scene, Yuno is restrained by two grinning men, framed from the ground up and in a state of distress. As the sequence progresses, her large breasts jiggle and her skirt rises, revealing her underpants in an upskirt shot. Minato reaches for help, however, only his hand is framed, appearing to be reaching for Yuno’s crotch region. The cut-scene continues and Minato is implicitly struck repeatedly, as Yuno squeals with a look of discomfort on her face. The gang members reiterate their plans to murder Yuno and Minato after the assault. The sequence finishes as Minato transforms into an idol and sings an extremely loud song, dispersing the gang. A portion of this sexual assault sequence, depicting an upskirt view of Yuno as she is restrained by two grinning men with Minato’s hand appearing to reach for her crotch region, is also featured in the game’s gallery mode.

In the Board’s opinion, the above examples constituted a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore the game could not be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game was Refused Classification. The Board was of the opinion that without the depiction of implied sexual violence, the game was able to be accommodated within the R18+ classification.

Publications

Only “submittable publications” must be classified before they can legally be advertised or distributed in Australia.

Section 5 of the Classification Act defines a submittable publication as:

  • an unclassified publication that, having regard to section 9A or to the Code and the classification guidelines to the extent that they relate to publications, contains depictions or descriptions that:

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

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

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

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

Classifications

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

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

Unrestricted

Unrestricted publications marking
Unrestricted with consumer advice of M (mature) publications marking

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 years of age.

During the reporting period, a total of 29 classification decisions were made in relation to commercial applications for the classification of publication. This figure includes the granting of one serial publication declaration.

Out of the total of 29 classification decisions for publications, 12 single issue publications and one serial publication were classified Unrestricted. Titles of Unrestricted publications classified by the Board during 2018–19 included The Picture and Girls of Picture Premium.

Category 1 restricted

Restricted Category 1
Restricted Category 1

During the reporting period, out of the total of 29 publications classified, 14 single issue 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 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 2018–19 included San Diego Elephant Show.

Category 2 restricted

Restricted Category 2
Restricted Category 2

During the reporting period, out of the total of 29 publications classified, two 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 2018–19 included The Picture 100% Home Girls Collector’s Edition.

Refused Classification (RC)

Publications classified Refused Classification (RC) cannot be sold or displayed in Australia. During the reporting period, of the total 29 publications classified (including one serial declaration), no publications were classified RC. The Classification Board did not refuse any serial classification declarations in 2018–19.

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 a single 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, one periodical was granted a serial classification declaration.

The Classification Board checks publications covered by serial classification declarations. During the reporting period, checks of serial declarations were undertaken, but no consequential actions resulted.

Other decisions

Internet content

During the reporting period, the Board classified two applications containing internet content. These applications were made by Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

Both applications received a Refused Classification RC classification:

One item consisted of what appeared to be a digital 87-page document, embedded within a PDF document submitted on DVD-ROM. The document described an ideological viewpoint, which was espoused to justify and encourage acts of terrorism against Muslim people. This content was Refused Classification pursuant to Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (the BSA) and in accordance with item 1(c) of the films table of the Code and in accordance with section 9A of the Classification Act. The Board was satisfied that the content promotes and incites in matters of crime or violence; and that it directly counsels, promotes, encourages and urges the doing of a terrorist act and directly praises the doing of a terrorist act in circumstances where there is substantial risk that such praise might have the effect of leading a person (regardless of his or her age or any mental impairment that the person might suffer) to engage in a terrorist act.

The other item consisted of a short film – in the form of a recording of what appeared to be a live action video stream – that depicted the lead-up to and the shooting of a number of individuals inside a mosque and the events immediately following the shooting. This content was Refused Classification pursuant to Schedule 7 of the BSA and in accordance with items 1(a) and 1(c) of the films table of the Code and in accordance with section 9A of the Classification Act. The Board was satisfied that the content depicted, expressed or otherwise dealt with matters of crime, violence, cruelty and revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it offended against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and that it directly counselled, promoted, encouraged and urged, and that it directly provided instruction on the doing of a terrorist attack, and directly praised the doing of a terrorist act in circumstances where there was a substantial risk that such praise might have the effect of leading a person (regardless of his or her age or any mental impairment that the person might suffer) to engage in a terrorist act.

Correspondence

The Classification Board seeks to reflect current community standards in its decision making, and feedback from the community is informative and helpful.

During the 2018–19 reporting period, the Classification Board received 163 complaints about its classification decisions and nine complaints about the decisions made by approved tools, a decrease of 31% when compared with the previous period. A breakdown of complaints by category is as follows:

  • No complaints about decisions for publications
  • 124 complaints about decisions for films,
  • 39 complaints about decisions for computer games
  • 3 complaints about decisions made by the IARC classification tool
  • 6 complaints about decisions made by the Netflix classification tool.

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

The overall decrease in the number of complaints can largely be explained by the fact that in 2017–18, decisions for one film and one computer game attracted a total of 194 complaints.

Films

The Classification Board received 124 complaints about the classifications of films, of which 28 were for the theatrical release film, Show Dogs, which had attracted 118 complaints in 2017–18. The next most complained about film was the theatrical release film, A Star is Born, which received 13 complaints, followed by Instant Family, which received 11 complaints, and A House With A Clock In Its Walls, which received nine complaints.

The complaints about Show Dogs arose out of social media commentary that a scene or two may cause offence to some viewers, who were of the opinion that the touching of a dog character’s genitals, and the accompanying dialogue, may promote acceptance of grooming of children for sexual exploitation. There was no suggestion in the film that the dog was a metaphor for a child.

The complainants about A Star is Born (classified M with consumer advice of “mature themes, coarse language, drug use and sex scenes”), believed that the film’s depiction of suicide warranted additional consumer advice and/or a more restrictive classification.

There are two references to suicide in the film. The first occurs when Jackson enters rehabilitation and mentions that he tried to kill himself as a 12 year old. The second is Jackson’s implied suicide which takes place off-screen, towards the end of the film and forms the dramatic climax of the story. It unfolds in a series of short, cut-scenes alternating between Ally’s stage performance, and Jackson’s death at home.

The implied suicide scene is restrained. Jackson walks into the garage holding a belt. Later, there is a man’s torso implicitly suspended in the air which is viewed from outside the garage, through a small window, as a distant shot.

Owing to the implied portrayal of the suicide and the lack of detail, both in terms of script and visual depiction, the Board was satisfied that the implied suicide was able to be accommodated at a lower impact level (PG) and did not warrant the disclosure of a climactic plot point by using consumer advice of “suicide”.

The people who complained about the film Instant Family (which was, in its final theatrical version, classified PG with consumer advice of “mild themes, coarse language, drug references and violence”), believed that the film’s coarse language and thematic content relating to a dysfunctional family could not be accommodated within the PG classification.

The people who complained about the film A House With A Clock In Its Walls (classified PG with consumer advice of “mild supernatural themes and violence, some scary scenes”), believed that the film was too scary for young children and therefore could not be accommodated at PG.

The remainder of the complaints were about a small number of titles, mostly theatrical release films.

Computer games

The Classification Board received 39 complaints about computer games, of which 26 were about We Happy Few being Refused Classification (RC). The Board was of the view that the content of this game exceeded the R 18+ classification, as per the Computer Games Guidelines which state that: “Drug use related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.” The complainants believed that the RC classification for the game was too high. This decision was reviewed by the Classification Review Board on 3 July 2018. More information about this decision can be found at http://www.classification.gov.au/.

Enquiries and other assistance

The department responded to a range of other enquiries including, how to get content classified, how to obtain exemptions from classification, and requests for information on the determined markings for films and computer games. There were a number of requests about the importation of publications, films and computer games.

 

Classification Review Board Annual Report 2018–19

Convenor’s letter of transmittal

Australian Government - Classification Review Board logo

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with subsection 85(1) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, I am pleased to submit a report on the management of the administrative affairs of the Classification Review Board for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

Yours sincerely

Susan Knowles Signature

Susan Knowles
Convenor

2 September 2019

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

Introduction

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

This report includes an overview of the work of the Review Board in 2018–19.

The Review Board received secretariat support from the Classification Branch.

Convenor’s overview

Convenor’s overview

Picture of Sue Knowles

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

During the 2018–19 reporting period, the Review Board received four applications for review. These applications were for the films Bumblebee, Hellboy and Rocketman, and for the computer game We Happy Few.

The review of the computer game, We Happy Few, was held on 3 July 2018 and the Review Board unanimously decided on the classification of R18+ (Restricted) with a consumer advice of “fantasy violence and interactive drug use”.

The review of the classification of Bumblebee was held on 11 December 2018 when the Review Board unanimously classified the film PG (Parental Guidance) with a consumer advice of “mild science fiction violence, mild themes, some scenes may scare young children”.

On 5 April 2019 the Review Board convened to review the film Hellboy. The unanimous decision of the Review Board was a classification of R18+ (Restricted) with a consumer advice of “high impact violence, blood and gore”.

Paramount Pictures Australia Pty Ltd requested a review of the film Rocketman. The Board met and unanimously decided on 21 May 2019 to classify the film M (Mature) with a consumer advice of “mature themes, drug use, sex scene and frequent coarse language”. The Review Board decided after much deliberation that the context and singular use of a strong coarse word could be accommodated at the M classification on this occasion.

I would like to especially thank Fiona Jolly whose term as Convenor expired this year. Her experience and dedication to many determinations during her years on the Board has been greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank those Board members who retired and welcome the new members who have joined and participated during this reporting period.

The support and advice of the Classification Branch staff is always superb and invaluable to members of the Review Board. We thank them all.

Sue Knowles
Convenor

Classification Review Board profiles

Current Board members

Photo of Susan Knowles

Susan Knowles

Convenor
APPOINTED: 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 2 January 2021

Ms Susan (Sue) Knowles, 68, resides in Perth, Western Australia. Ms Knowles retired as a Senator for Western Australia in the Australian Federal Parliament after 21 years of public service. During her career in the Parliament, she held a variety of positions including Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate. She served on many Senate committees and inquiries including as chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee dealing with health care, aged care, Aboriginal heath, welfare and other related matters, and was also a member of the Senate inquiries into British Child Migrants in Institutional Care and Australian Children in Institutional Care.

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

Photo of Peter Price

Peter Price

Deputy Convenor
APPOINTED: 7 December 2014
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 2 January 2021

Mr Peter Price AM, 54, resides in Sydney, NSW, He is an advertising and communications professional with over 25 years’ experience in multi-national agencies in Johannesburg, London and Sydney. He is currently the Managing Director of First Light, an advertising agency he founded in 1994 as well as part-time CEO of Crime Stoppers in NSW and Director of Corporate Communications for Crime Stoppers Australia.

Mr Price’s 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 Vice President of Crime Stoppers International from 2012 to 2017.

In 2009, Mr Price was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to community safety through executive roles with Crime Stoppers. In 2017, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to community safety as an advocate for law enforcement and crime prevention programs.

Mr Price was also a Board Director of the Internet Industry Association from 2011 to 2014. He holds a diploma in marketing management and is a graduate and fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Photo of Rechelle Leahy

Rechelle Leahy

APPOINTED: 6 December 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 December 2020

Ms Rechelle Leahy, 43, resides in Armidale, NSW and is a CEO and Consultant who has worked extensively with local, state and federal Government as well as the private sector. She has experience in people management, administration, finance and logistics and is currently CEO of a private policy advisory consultancy to State and Federal Governments.

Ms Leahy’s qualifications include an Advanced Diploma in Migration Law and Practice a Certificate in Mediation Practice; and a Graduate Certificate in Internal Audit. She is also a graduate of Women on Boards and the Commonwealth Bank Regional Scholarship Program.

Ms Leahy has served on several Boards in a non-executive capacity including the National Rural Women’s Coalition. She is also a Member of the UN Women National Committee Australia, and has been a previous Member of the Australian Public Service Commission Promotion Review Committee, and an ACT Committee member of the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. She is a parent of two children.

Photo of Susan Bush

Susan Bush

APPOINTED: 6 December 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 December 2020

Ms Susan Bush, 44, resides in Albany Creek, Queensland and is a Transcriber/Actor/Writer with a background in the Television/ Broadcast industry in both Australia and the UK. She has experience as a broadcast operator and a presentation coordinator, and is now engaged in writing, acting and the provision of freelance transcribing services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Griffith University and a Master of Arts from the University of Queensland. She was awarded Certificate of Highest Achievement (Best Actress) at the 2014 Australian Screen Industry Network Awards.

Since 2011 Ms Bush has viewed a majority of the films released in Australian Cinemas from the perspective of how material is classified, providing details on her website. She has also spent her time volunteering in the local filmmaking community, including judging the SAE ATOM awards since 2015. She is a parent of three children.

Photo of Margaret Clancy

Margaret Clancy

APPOINTED: 6 December 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 December 2020

Ms Margaret Clancy, 68, resides in Castlemaine, Victoria and has extensive experience in film classification, having served as a Classification Board member for a total of seven years at the Office of Film and Literature Classification. She has been a television classifier at the Seven Network and the Classification Manager at National Indigenous Television (NITV). She has been involved with indigenous communities through her work at NITV, including training of indigenous staff. Through her career, a diversity of roles has included teaching (ESL, Voice and Drama), also journalism, script writing and acting. She holds an Associate Diploma in Speech and Drama from the London College of Music and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Ms Clancy is currently a committee member of the Mount Alexander Animal Welfare (MAAW) organisation providing fundraising activities and initiating animal welfare programs in schools.

Photo of Adam Davy

Adam Davy

APPOINTED: 6 December 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 December 2020

Mr Adam Davy, 38, of Kelvin Grove, Queensland, is the Head of the English Department at Kelvin Grove State College, a metropolitan state school. He also performs an expert advisory role with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA). In these roles, he services the Arts and Education communities through the development and facilitation of creative writing, poetry and education programs.

Mr Davy has been awarded a double degree (Arts and Education) from Griffith University and a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) from the University of New England. He is the father of two children and a regular gamer.

Photo of Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen

APPOINTED: 6 December 2018
APPOINTMENT EXPIRES: 5 December 2020

Mr Christopher Allen, 53, resides in Gerringong, NSW and is currently the Director, Sector Performance and Intervention, at the NSW Department of Local Government. His recent public sector executive roles include Chief Operating Officer, Venues NSW in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and, in 2014–15, Acting Assistant Secretary and Director of Operations at the Classification Branch (both non-ongoing positions). From 2008 to 2012 he was Sheriff of NSW in the NSW Department of Attorney General & Justice, delivering support to the NSW Justice system.

Mr Allen’s early career featured service as a commissioned officer in the Australian Defence Force (Army). His qualifications include a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership, Advanced Diploma in Public Safety, Associate Diploma in Personnel Administration, Diploma of Security & Risk Management and Diploma of Public Safety (Policing).

Mr Allen has published several novels and is the father of two young children.

Board members who left the Classification Review Board in 2018–19

Fiona Jolly

Convenor
APPOINTED 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 2 January 2019

Peter Attard

APPOINTED 7 December 2011
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 2 January 2019

Richard Williams

APPOINTED 1 July 2015
APPOINTMENT EXPIRED 2 January 2019

Legislative base

The Classification Review Board is established under the Classification Act. The Classification Act provides that the Review Board is to consist of a Convenor, a Deputy Convenor and at least three, but no more than eight, other members.

The Governor-General appoints members of the Review Board. Under the Classification Act, the Minister must, before recommending an appointment, consult with state and territory ministers with responsibility for classification. The Classification Act also requires that regard is 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 four reviews. The reviews were completed within the statutory timeframe.

Reports for the Review Board’s decisions are published on the Australian Classification website at www.classification.gov.au.

Table 16: Decisions of the Review Board

Title

Media

Review applicant

Date of review decision

Original classification

Review classification

Rocketman

Film

Paramount Pictures Australia Pty Ltd

21 May 2019

MA 15+, “Strong coarse language”

M, “Mature themes, drug use, sex scene and frequent coarse language”

Hellboy

Film

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd

5 April 2019

R 18+, “High impact violence, blood and gore”

R 18+, “High impact violence, blood and gore”

Bumblebee

Film

Paramount Pictures Australia Pty Ltd

11 December 2018

M, “Action violence”

PG, “Mild science fiction violence, mild themes, some scenes may scare young children”

We Happy Few

Game

Gearbox Publishing LLC

3 July 2018

RC

R 18+, “Fantasy violence and interactive drug use”

Attendance at Review Board meetings

The Review Board convened for four days in 2018–19 to deal with four separate applications.

Table 17: Attendance at Review Board meetings

Review Board member

Meetings 2018–19

Meeting days attended 2018–19

Susan Knowles, Convenor, WA

3

3

Fiona Jolly, Convenor (former), ACT

2

2

Peter Price AM, Deputy Convenor, NSW

1

1

Peter Attard, VIC

2

2

Rechelle Leahy, NSW

1

1

Susan Bush, QLD

1

1

Adam Davy, QLD

1

1

Complaints

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

Two complaints were about Rocketman, with one complainant expressing concern that the coarse language was unsuitable for the M rating, and another expressing concern that the sex scenes should have been classified R 18+.

Two complaints were about Bumblebee, with both complainants expressing concern that the violence in the film was too impactful for a PG classification.

Judicial decisions

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

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

Appendices

Appendix A: 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, see and play 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

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

Item

Description of publication

Classification

1

Publications that:

a)describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

b)describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

c)promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

RC

2

Publications (except RC publications) that:

a)explicitly depict sexual or sexually related activity between consenting adults in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or

b)depict, describe or express revolting or abhorrent phenomena in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult and are unsuitable for a minor to see or read

Category 2 restricted

3

Publications (except RC publications and Category 2 restricted publications) that:

a)explicitly depict nudity, or describe or impliedly depict sexual or sexually related activity between consenting adults, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or

b)describe or express in detail violence or sexual activity between consenting adults in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; or

c)are unsuitable for a minor to see or read

Category 1 restricted

4

All other publications

Unrestricted

Films

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

Item

Description of film

Classification

1

Films that:

a)depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

b)describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

c)promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

RC

2

Films (except RC films) that:

a)contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence, coercion, sexually assaultive language, or fetishes or depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult; and

b)are unsuitable for a minor to see

X 18+

3

Films (except RC films and X 18+ films) that are unsuitable for a minor to see

R 18+

4

Films (except RC films, X 18+ films and R 18+ films) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing by persons under 15

MA 15+

5

Films (except RC films, X 18+ films, R 18+ films and MA 15+ films) that cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15

M

6

Films (except RC films, X 18+ films, R 18+ films, MA 15+ films and M films) that cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians

PG

7

All other films

G

Computer games

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

Item

Description of computer game

Classification

1

Computer games that:

a)depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

b)describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

c)promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

RC

2

Computer games (except RC computer games) that are unsuitable for viewing or playing by a minor

R 18+

3

Computer games (except RC and R 18+ computer games) that depict, express or otherwise deal with sex, violence or coarse language in such a manner as to be unsuitable for viewing or playing by persons under 15

MA 15+

4

Computer games (except RC, R 18+ and MA 15+ computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15

M

5

Computer games (except RC, R 18+, MA 15+ and M computer games) that cannot be recommended for viewing or playing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians

PG

6

All other computer games

G

Appendix B: Photo Credits and Artwork Attribution

The Classification Board would like to give special thanks to all those who supplied images to the Classification Board Annual Report 2018–19:

Page(s)

Attribution

19

Personal collection, M Anderson

20

2019 MCV Pacific Awards Pre-event hosted by Bethesda, Tame & Wild (Photographer: Peter Sharp)

21

Personal collection, M Anderson

22

Australian International Movie Convention, Queensland, 29 July 2018, Peter Jackson Photography

24–25

Penny Clay Photography

46

Pick of the Litter © 2018 Madman Entertainment. All rights reserved.

48

Storm Boy © 2018 Sony Pictures Releasing P/L. All rights reserved.

51

Daffodils © 2018 Transmission Films. All rights reserved.

54

Backtrack Boys © 2018 Umbrella Entertainment. All rights reserved.

57

The Furies © 2019 Killer Instinct Movie Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

60

Cricket 19 © 2019 Big Ant Studios Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

61

Anno 1800 © 2019 Ubisoft. All rights reserved.

63

Phar Lap – Horse Racing Challenge © 2019 Home Entertainment Suppliers Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

66

Red Dead Redemption II © 2018 Rockstar Games, Inc. All rights reserved.

70

Mortal Kombat 11 © 2018 Koch Media. All rights reserved.

Glossary

Term/abbreviation

Explanation

AACG Scheme

Authorised Assessor Scheme for Computer Games

ACA Scheme

Additional Content Assessor Scheme

Advertising Scheme

The Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme

APS

Australian Public Service

ATSA Scheme

Authorised Television Series Assessor Scheme

BSA

Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth)

Call in

The Director of the Classification Board may call in a publication if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe it is a submittable publication and that it is being published in an Australian state or territory. The Director of the Classification Board may also call in a film or computer game if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe it is not exempt and that it is being published in an Australian state or territory

Classification Act

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

Classification Board

Statutory body established under the Classification Act. The Classification Board classifies computer games, films and certain publications

Classification Board member

A statutory appointee to the Classification Board established under the Classification Act

Classification Branch

The Classification Branch of the Department of Communications and the Arts. The Classification Branch provides administrative support to the Classification Board and Classification Review Board

Classification guidelines

See Guidelines

Classification Review Board

Statutory body established under the Classification Act. The Classification Review Board is a part-time statutory body convened, as required, to review decisions made by the Classification Board

Classification Review Board member

Statutory appointee to the Classification Review Board under the Classification Act

Code, the

The National Classification Code

Computer games classifications

G

PG

M

MA 15+

R 18+

RC

 

General (advisory category)

Parental Guidance (advisory category)

Mature (advisory category)

Mature Accompanied (legally restricted category))

Restricted (legally restricted category)

Refused Classification

Consumer advice

The Classification Board and Classification Review Board determine consumer advice for films, computer games and certain publications. Films classified G, PG, M, MA 15+, R 18+ and X 18+, and computer games classified G, PG, M, MA 15+ and R 18+, must be assigned consumer advice. Consumer advice generally gives information about the content of the film or game, the principal elements that contribute to the classification of the content 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

Deputy Convenor

Member of the Classification Review Board who may exercise some of the Convenor’s powers in the Convenor’s absence

Deputy Director

Full-time member of the Classification Board who is the operational manager of that Board and who may exercise some of the Director’s powers in the Director’s absence

Determined markings

Classification symbols and descriptions and, as set out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Markings and Consumer Advice) Determination 2014

Director

Full-time member of the Classification Board responsible for the management of the Classification Board

eSafety Commissioner

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is committed to empowering all Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online. The Office was established in 2015 with a mandate to co-ordinate and lead the online safety efforts across government, industry and the not-for-profit community

Exempt film

A film exempt from classification requirements as defined by section 6B of the Classification Act

Fee waiver

The waiving of classification application fees in specific circumstances, as provided by the Classification Act

Film classifications

G

PG

M

MA 15+

R 18+

X 18+

RC

General (advisory category)

Parental Guidance (advisory category)

Mature (advisory category)

Mature Accompanied (legally restricted category)

Restricted (legally restricted category)

Restricted to 18 years and over (contains consensual sexually explicit activity)

Refused Classification

FOI Act

Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)

FOI

Freedom of Information

Guidelines

Under the Classification Act (section 12) the minister may, with the agreement of each state and territory, determine guidelines to assist the Board in applying the criteria in the Code. There are separate guidelines for the classification of films, computer games, and publications which may be viewed online at www.legislation.gov.au

Industry assessors

Persons authorised by the Director to make recommendations to the Classification Board on the classification and consumer advice for the ACA Scheme, the ATSA Scheme, the AACG Scheme and the Advertising Scheme

National Classification Scheme (the Scheme)

A co-operative Commonwealth, state and territory regulatory scheme for classification of films, computer games and certain publications

National Classification Code (the Code)

A code that sets out how films, computer games and certain publications are to be classified

Prohibited Exports Regulations

Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (Cth); Regulation 3 relates to the exportation of “objectionable goods” (including computer games, computer generated images, films, interactive games and publications)

Prohibited Imports Regulations

Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (Cth); Regulation 4A relates to the importation of “objectionable goods” (including computer games, computer generated images, films, interactive games and publications)

Publications classifications

Unrestricted

Category 1 restricted

Category 2 restricted

RC

Unrestricted

Not available to persons under 18 years

Not available to persons under 18 years

Refused Classification

Serial classification declaration

A declaration issued by the Classification Board on the classification, and any conditions that apply, to issues of a publication periodical for a specified period

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

Index

11-11 Memories Retold, 62

30 Nights of Sex, 54

A

A Casa Tutti Bene, 51

The Accidental Prime Minister, 48

Adanga Maru, 51

Additional Content Assessor (ACA) Scheme, 6, 38, 39

Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth), 91

Adrenochrome, 58

advertising approvals, 40

advertising assessments, 40

Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme, 6–7

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, 61

Aladdin, 48

Allen, Christopher, 89

American Fugitive, 64

American Gothic – The Complete Series, 54

American Horror Story – Cult, 54

Anderson, Margaret, 18–25, 26

Aniara, 58

Anno 1800, 61

Anthem, 64

approved classification tools, 36, 41–2

Approved Cultural Institutions (ACIs), 5

Ashton, Emma, 33

assessor schemes, 6

Astro Bot Rescue Mission, 60

Atari Flashback Classics, 60

Attard, Peter, 89

Au, Ben, 20

Auditor-General reports, 14

Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC), 22–3

Authorised Assessor Scheme for Computer Games (AACG), 6, 39

Authorised Television Series Assessor (ATSA) Scheme, 6, 38, 39

Avengers: Endgame, 53–4

Avengers: Infinity War, 53

B

Backtrack Boys, 55

Battle Earth, 51

Beautiful Boy, 57

The Best of Enemies, 51

Bickerstaff, Alison, 19, 22, 23, 24, 27

BlacKkKlansman, 54

The Bletchley Circle San Francisco, 51

Bohemian Rhapsody, 52

Boonie Bears The Big Shrink, 48

Boy Erased, 54

Brand, Jeffrey, 20

Breathedge, 64

Brimstone & Glory, 50

Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), 7, 44, 77

Bumblebee, 23, 85, 90, 91

Burke, Jenny, 30

Burn The Stage: The Movie, 46

Bush, Susan, 87

C

Cabela’s: The Hunt – Championship Edition, 64

call ins, 40

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, 66–7

A Cam Life, 58

Captain Marvel, 53

Carr, Damien, 32

Catherine Classic, 67

Catherine: Full Body, 67

A Champion Heart, 47

Charlie Says, 51

‘Check the Classification’ (‘CTC’), 6–7

Cheech & Chong’s: Up In Smoke, 54

Chitralahari, 51

Christmas Mail, 48

Clancy, Margaret, 88

Classification (Advertising of Unclassified Films and Computer Games Scheme) Determination 2009, 6, 40

Classification Board

accountability, 11

acknowledgements, 24

administrative arrangements, 11

code of conduct, 12

complaints, 79–80

correspondence, 79–80

decisions, 35–6

Deputy Director, 7, 10, 24, 27

Director, 7, 10, 18–25, 26

documents, 13

establishment, 4, 10

ethical standards, 12

external accountability, 12

financial management, 11

functions, 5

interviews, 23

liaison with Department of Communications and the Arts, 11

media releases, 23

meetings, 11

member profiles, 26–9

membership, 13

practices and procedures, 36

privacy, 14

reporting, 11

risk management, 12

stakeholder liaison, 11

statistics, 35–44

temporary members, 30–3

workload, 35–6

Classification Guidelines, 4, 5

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth), 4, 83

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Regulations 2005, 11

classification reform, 23

Classification Review Board

accountability, 11

administrative arrangements, 11

complaints, 91

Convenor, 10–11, 85

decisions, 90

documents, 13

establishment, 4, 10, 83

ethical standards, 12

external accountability, 12

financial management, 11

judicial review of decisions, 91

legislative base, 89

liaison with Department of Communications and the Arts, 11

meetings, 11, 77

member profiles, 86–9

membership, 13

privacy, 14

reporting, 11

risk management, 12

secretariat support, 83

stakeholder liaison, 11

Classification (Serial Publications) Principles 2005, 37

classification tools see approved classification tools

Climate Warriors, 51

Close to the Sun, 66

Cold Pursuit, 54

Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy, 62

Collection of Mana, 61

‘commensurate audience’ rule, 7

complaints, 79–80, 91

computer games

classification, 39

complaints, 80

Computer Games Classification Course, 23

G classification, 3, 39, 60–1

Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2012, 18, 59–60

M classification, 39, 63–6

MA 15+ classification, 39, 66–9

PG classification, 39, 61–3

R 18+ classification, 39, 70–2

RC classification, 39–40, 72–4

review of statutory guidelines, 18–19

Conditional Cultural Exemption Rules, 5, 42

Contra Anniversary Collection, 61

The Cop, 54

correspondence, 79–80

The Council – Episode 5 – Checkmate, 64

Cricket 19, 60

Crimes Act 1914, 12

Crystar, 64

Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958, 7

Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, 7

D

Daffodils, 51

Dangerous Driving, 62

Dark Figure of Crime, 51

Darksiders 3, 66

The Dating Project, 48

Davy, Adam, 88

Dayz, 72–3

Deadly Dinosaurs with Steve Backshall, 48

Death of A Nation, 51

Decay of Logos, 64

Delezio, Ron, 24, 29

Department of Communications and the Arts, 11

The Deuce Season 2, 58

The Devil, 54

Digital 2019 (Australia) report, 18

Digital Australia 2020 report, 18

digital resources, 18

The Duchess, 22

E

Elliot the Littlest Reindeer, 48

Ellis, Victoria, 23

enforcement agencies, 43

Environment and Communications References Committee, 20

Eternal Champions, 65

Etrian Odyssey Nexus, 61

Exes Baggage, 53

F

Facing Darkness, 49–50

Fallout 76, 66

Familia Blondina, 50

Fantastica, 48

The Favourite, 55

films

advertising assessments, 40

classification, 38

complaints, 79–80

Film Classification Course, 23

G classification, 38, 46–8

Guidelines for the Classification of Films 2012, 18, 46

M classification, 38, 51–4

MA 15+ classification, 38, 54–7

PG classification, 38, 48–50

public exhibition classification, 38

R 18+ classification, 38, 57–9

RC classification, 38, 59

review of statutory guidelines, 18–19

sale/hire classification, 38–9

X 18+ classification, 38, 59

First Man, 52

Fitness Boxing, 60

Flekser, Lori, 22

Flight of the Zahracorns, 46

Fortnite, 19

Fowler, Jenny, 31

Free Solo, 52

freedom of information, 13

Freedom of Information Act 1982, 12, 13

The Furies, 58

Future Man Season 1, 54

G

Gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items report, 20–1

The Gangster, 54

Garrett, Wayne, 31

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey Collector’s Edition, 46

Girl, 51

The Girl In The Spider’s Web, 54

Girls of Picture Premium, 75

Global Overrides program, 41

Graves, Joan, 21

Guess How Much I Love You – An Enchanting Easter, 46

Gun Gun Pixies, 67–8

Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2, 66

Guts and Glory, 66

H

Habit, 58

The Heart Dances: The Journey of the Piano: The Ballet, 52

Hellboy, 85, 90

Hennessy, Adam, 32

The House That Jack Built, 58

A House With A Clock In Its Walls, 79, 80

Hubble, Felix, 31

Humphreys, Andrew, 30

I

I Am Non, 46

I Am Paul Walker, 51

If Beale Street Could Talk, 55

In My Blood It Runs, 48

Indivisible, 61

Instant Family, 79–80

Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship, 4

International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) tool, 20, 22, 23, 60

complaints, 79

decisions by classification, 41

deemed decisions, 36

International Classifiers’ Conference, 21–2

internet content, 7, 44, 77

Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?: Arrow Of The Orion, 50

Italian Film Festival 2017 Box Set Volume 2, 51

J

Jolly, Fiona, 85, 89

Judgment, 66

judicial review, 91

Jumanji the Video Game, 61

Just Cause 4, 66

Just Dance 2019, 60

K

The Keeper, 51

Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Season 15 – Part 1, 54

Khalid: Free Spirit, 51

Killing Eve Season 1, 57

Knowledge is Power: Decades, 61

Knowles, Susan, 85, 86

L

Leahy, Rechelle, 87

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, 63

The Lego Movie 2, 49

Leske, Michael, 33

Let’s Sing 2019, 62–3

Letting You Know Me, 52

Living Universe, 47

Long Shot, 51

Lords of Chaos, 58

M

Magical Land of Oz, 46

Mary Poppins Returns, 47

McMahon, Kelly, 21

MacMaster, Mathew, 33

Mann, Thomas, 24, 28

MCV Pacific Awards, 19

Merton, Rachel, 24, 29

The Messenger, 61

Metal Max: Xeno, 64

Monster Party, 58

Monstrum, 64

Mortal Kombat 11, 70

Mulk, 51

N

National Classification Code, 4, 5, 19, 83, 94–6

National Classification Database (NCD), 12

National Classification Scheme, 4, 14

Netflix classification tool, 22, 23, 24, 41–2, 46

complaints, 79

decisions by classification, 42

deemed decisions, 36

Nixon, Ellenor, 24, 29

Northern Territory

classification legislation, 5

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory, 4

Northgard, 61

O

Office of the eSafety Commissioner, 7, 35, 44, 77

Ombudsman Act 1976, 12

Ombudsman, Commonwealth, 14

O’Neill, Aaron, 24

Oninaki, 64

online training courses, 23

Opera National de Paris: Lady MacBeth de Mzensk, 54

Our World is Ended, 66

Out of the Park Baseball 20, 60

P

Parasite, 54

PAX, 19

Pechovska, Lora, 33

Pet Sematary, 56

Phar Lap – Horse Racing Challenge, 64

photo credits and artwork attribution, 97

The Piano, 52

Pick of the Litter, 47

The Picture, 75

The Picture 100% Home Girls Collector’s Edition, 76

Pihu, 51

Pokemon Detective Pikachu, 48

Pokemon Sword, 61

A Prayer Before Dawn, 58

Preacher Season 3, 58

Price, Peter, 86–7

Privacy Act 1988, 12, 14

prohibited imports and exports, 7

publications

category 1 restricted, 37, 75

category 2 restricted, 37, 76

classification, 37, 74

Guidelines for the Classification of Publications, 74

RC refused classification, 37, 76

serial classification declaration, 37, 76

‘submittable publications’, 74

unrestricted, 37, 74–5

Punch Club, 64

Pyewacket, 51

Q

Qismat, 49

The Quiet Man, 64

R

Ralph Breaks the Internet, 49

Rampant, 57

Randall, Greg, 32

The Real Housewives of Cheshire Seasons 1–6, 51

Red Dead Redemption II, 68–9

Resident Evil 2, 70

revocations, 40

RGX: Showdown, 60

Richards, Raphael, 33

Risk of Rain 2, 64

Rocketman, 23, 85, 90, 91

Roma, 56

Rottnest Island – Kingdom of the Quokka, 46

Rushton, Jarrah, 19, 24, 28

Russell Coight: All Aussie Adventures – Season 3, 48

Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Television – Season 2, 53

Ryan, Sally, 24, 27

S

San Diego Elephant Show, 75

Sega Mega Drive Mini, 64–5

Shenmue III, 64

Shimmer and Shine, 46

Show Dogs, 79

SIMO tool, 23

The Sinking City, 66

Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold, 65

Soma, 69

Song of Memories, 73–4

Songbird Symphony, 60

South Australia

classification legislation, 5

Spiderman: Far From Home, 53

Splasher, 61

A Star Is Born, 52–3, 79–80

states and territories

classification legislation, 5

Storm Boy, 48

Streetfighter 2: Special Champion Edition, 64–5

Suicide The Ripple Effect, 49

Super Neptunia RPG, 65–6

Supermarket Shriek, 60–1

T

Tasmania

classification legislation, 5

Team Sonic Racing, 60

They Shall Not Grow Old, 54–5

The Third Wife, 56

This is the Police 2, 70

Thugs of Hindostan, 54

time limits for decisions, 35

Toy Story 4, 47

Transference, 64

Trover Saves the Universe, 69

U

unclassified content

advertising, 6

exemptions to show, 5, 42–3

Unicorn Princess, 61

Uppers, 70–1

US Film Ratings System Research, 21

V

Vadhayiyaan Ji Vadhayiyaan, 50

W

The Walking Dead Season 8, 58

Wattam, 60

Wayne, 55

We Happy Few, 80, 85, 90

website, 12

Williams, Richard, 89

Wind River, 22

Wolfenstein: Youngblood, 71

World War Z, 66

WWE 2K19, 64

Y

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, 61

Yu-No: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World, 71–2

Z

Zombie Army 4: Dead War, 70

Classification Branch
Department of Communications and the Arts
Level 6
23–33 Mary Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Postal Address:
Locked Bag 3
Haymarket NSW 1240

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