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Classification tools

What is a classification tool?

A classification tool is a questionnaire, computer program or other interface that allows a person or artificial intelligence to classify content. Industry can use approved classification tools to classify films or computer games in Australia, instead of applying to the Classification Board for a rating.

Tools use algorithms and logic rules that reflect the criteria in the National Classification Scheme. This ensures tool decisions are consistent with Australian legislation and decisions of the Classification Board.

When a tool has classified the content, it sends the decision to us using an Application Processing Interface (API) and it is published on the National Classification Database (NCD). You can search the NCD in the search bar at the top of this page.

Decisions made by approved classification tools are taken to be decisions of the Classification Board.

Approved classification tools

There are three tools approved for use in Australia:

  1. IARC Global Rating Tool for mobile/online computer games
  2. Netflix Classification Tool for online films and TV series
  3. Spherex Classification Tool for online films and TV series.

IARC Global Rating Tool

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

IARC developed its Global Rating Tool in partnership with these ratings authorities to classify mobile and online computer games available on participating storefronts. The Minister approved it in 2014, and made variations in 2016 and 2017.

You can learn more on the IARC website.


Netflix Classification Tool

Netflix developed the Netflix Classification Tool to classify films and series streamed on its Australian service. The Minister approved it in 2016.

You can learn more on the Netflix website.


Spherex Classification Tool

Spherex Inc. is a United States based media company that handles the global rating and distribution of content on behalf of its industry clients. The Spherex Classification Tool builds on the self-classification system Spherex Inc. uses to rate content for over 100 countries.

The Spherex Classification Tool classifies films and series streamed on its clients' Australian services. The Minister approved it in 2022.

You can learn more on the Spherex website.


What we do

We assist industry to develop their classification tool and seek Ministerial approval. We also monitor and evaluate the performance of approved classification tools.

Developing a classification tool

An individual, entity or group can develop a tool. It is a timely and cost-effective option for classifying content.

We work with tool developers to:

  • program their tool logic
  • test the API and integration with the NCD
  • assess the accuracy of tool decisions against the criteria
  • execute contractual documents
  • seek ministerial approval of the tool.

Please contact us for more information on developing a classification tool.

Getting a classification tool approved

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Approval of Classification Tools) Guidelines 2014 contain matters that the Minister must consider when deciding whether to approve a tool. This includes that a tool must:

  • produce ratings and consumer advice that are consistent with Classification Board decisions
  • be able to refuse classification to content
  • respond to changes in the National Classification Scheme
  • give notice of decisions to the NCD.

The Minister can:

  • approve a tool with conditions
  • enter into an arrangement with the tool owner relating to the operation of the tool
  • vary the approval conditions upon mutual agreement with the tool owner
  • revoke the approval if the tool does not meet its conditions or contractual obligations.

Monitoring and evaluating classification tools

We monitor and evaluate the performance of approved tools. This includes:

  • the Classification Board checking tool decisions
  • checking the display of the tool rating and consumer advice where the content is made available
  • working with the tool owner to update tool logic where needed
  • evaluating the performance of the tool.

Checking tool decisions

The Classification Board may choose to check a tool decision if the content:

  • is the subject of a complaint
  • is part of a series or franchise known to be high in impact
  • has received high media interest.

The Classification Board may also check a tool decision upon request from:

  • the tool owner or publisher of the content
  • the Minister.

Revoking tool decisions

As a result of a check, the Classification Board can revoke a tool decision if it deems the content should have a different rating or consumer advice. They will:

  • classify the content and produce a new decision
  • publish the new decision on the NCD
  • notify the tool owner of the new decision.

Making a complaint about a tool decision

Anyone can make a complaint about the rating or consumer advice of a tool decision. This includes:

  • if the rating is too low
  • if the rating is too high
  • if the consumer advice does not reflect the content
  • if there is a problem with the display of the rating or consumer advice where the content is available.

When you write to us, please include:

  • the full name of the film or game
  • the service where you accessed it
  • a description of the issue
  • a timestamp if it relates to the content.