Melon Farmers Original Version

Australian Censorship Review

Reviewing censorship law for all media


More self classification...

Australian government consults about possible changes to its media censorship scheme

Link Here 19th May 2024
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

On 29 March 2023, the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, announced the government would undertake a two-stage process to reform the Scheme. The first stage of reforms will be implemented in full during 2024 and include:

  • introducing mandatory minimum classifications for gambling-like content in computer games

  • expanding options for industry to self-classify content using individuals who have been trained and accredited by government

  • extending the Classification Board's powers to quality assure self-classification decisions

  • expanding exemptions from classification for low-risk cultural content

  • removing the need for content that has been classified under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, or by the national broadcasters, and has not changed, to be re-classified for distribution in other formats.

The second stage of reforms will be more comprehensive in scope and will establish a framework for classification that is fit-for-purpose and will serve Australia into the future.

We want to hear your views on the following 3 key areas identified for consideration as part of the second stage of classification reforms:

  • clarifying the scope and purpose of the Scheme, including the types of content that should be classified

  • ensuring the classification guidelines continue to be aligned with, and responsive to, evolving community standards and expectations, and

  • establishing fit-for-purpose governance and regulatory arrangements for the Scheme, under a single national regulator responsible for media classification.



Well it's got to be better than the current mess...

The Australian Government announces a review of media classification and censorship law

Link Here17th December 2019
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

The Morrison Government has announced a review of Australian classification regulation to develop a framework that reflects changing technologies and meets community needs.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the current National Classification Scheme was established in 1995 and it is timely for review. He said:

Australians and their families rely on classification ratings to inform their entertainment choices and they expect the advice to accurately reflect community standards.

The current framework was established in the age of dial-up internet -- well before the rise of the online streaming or gaming services we now use daily -- so we will be looking at how to modernise it for different content and delivery platforms.

I encourage all interested parties to make a submission when the consultation period commences early next year to help us develop a contemporary framework that meets the needs of industry while providing appropriate information and protections for consumers.

The Government has appointed Mr Neville Stevens AO as the independent expert to lead the review. Mr Stevens, former Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts and current Chair of the Press Council, will provide a report on the review of Australian classification regulation to Government in April 2020.

The review forms part of the Government's response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry to develop a platform-neutral media regulatory framework, including harmonising classification across delivery formats.

A discussion paper will be released in early 2020 on the Department of Communications and the Arts' website.



Update: A New Rating Game...

Australia joins the International Age Rating Coalition with view to allowing game developers to use an approved tool to rate games rather than bother the censors of the Classification Board

Link Here10th March 2015
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

Australia will trial a new classification tool to keep pace with mobile and online games ensuring users, particularly parents, are better informed about what types of games are being played on mobile devices.

Australia has joined the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), a partnership of government and industry content classification authorities from around the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe and Brazil. As part of this partnership, Australia is preparing to trial the use of IARC's new tool for classifying mobile and online games.

Participating online storefronts that use the IARC tool require game developers to obtain certification by completing a questionnaire about the content of their games. The IARC tool then assigns games with local classifications for each member country or region based on standards set by the relevant authorities.

The use of this tool will help keep the National Classification Scheme up to date with the pace of growth of mobile and online games. Australians who download these games through participating storefronts will soon start seeing familiar Australian classifications. Parents will also be better informed when making decisions about what their children play on their devices.

Today's announcement follows amendments made by the Government last year to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 that allow the Minister to approve classification tools for classifying publications, films and/or computer games.

After close collaboration between the IARC and my Department over many months to ensure the tool meets Australia's requirements, I have approved the IARC classification tool for an initial 12-month trial period to begin next month.

As part of the trial, the Classification Board will audit a large number of classifications made by the IARC tool to ensure they reflect the Australian community's expectations and standards.

The Board also has the power to revoke classifications made by the IARC tool if it decides it would have given the game a different classification.



Update: Classification App...

Australia parliament passes bill to allow the use of a classification tool to rate games and apps

Link Here28th August 2014
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
Australia's parliament has just passed a bill to allow the government the option to allow the use of classification tools for the classification of specified categories of media, particularly computer games.

The target of the legislation is the vast amount of apps and small games available online. Current law suggests these require to be censored by the Classification Board. However in reality this is totally uneconomic and unfeasible. The plan is to allow users to classify the apps using government approved classification tools, presumably taking the form of a questionnaire for the games makers.



Update: Computer Generated Film Censors...

Australian Government consider software tools to classify games and movies

Link Here 6th May 2014
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

A proposal for computer software to be used to classify material, such as movies and video games, has hit the news in Australia. The Federal Government has proposed the development of digital tools to speed up the work of the Classification Board.

Responses to survey questions by producers or developers about the content of movies or games could be used by a computer program to recommend a classification. Members of the Classification Board would be able to change the final result if they did not agree with the software's decision.

Legal academic Lyria Bennett Moses and her colleagues at the University of NSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Community commented that draft changes to classification law did not place enough restrictions on the use of classification tools:

At worst, there would be no human judgment applied to the necessary human judgment matters central to the classification process. A Google bot might do it.

Morality campaigners of Family Voice Australia did not believe the Government intended to use computer programs to make a classification decision. But they feared this could happen in the future, enabling pornographers to exploit the classification system by supplying incorrect information about the content of their films to censorship programs.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told Parliament recently that a draft Bill would require any classification tools to be approved by the relevant government minister.

The Bill also provides the Classification Board with the opportunity to classify material even after it has been considered by an approved tool, if it considers that the decision is problematic. As a final protection, if there are concerns about the effectiveness of a classification tool, its approval may be suspended or revoked at any time.

The computer game industry supports the use of automated tools to help speed up long delays waiting for material to be classified. Since 1996, the Classification Board has classified an average of 745 computer games a year. But more than 57,000 games were released by Apple's App Store in 2013. It also very expensive, costing upto $2460 to have a computer game classified.

The Government  is also considering scrapping proposals for 2-D and 3-D versions of the same movie to be classified separately.



Update: Resuscitating the Film industry...

Australia tweeks film censorship law to reduce red tape and censorship costs for its local industry

Link Here 19th March 2014
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
The Australian government has introduced legislation to reform the National Classification Scheme, primarily to make it faster and more cost effective to classify content for mobile platforms and online games.

Films that are released in 2D and 3D versions won't have to be classified twice, a measure for which the industry had long lobbied.

Independent distributors had also complained about the costs of having small films classified but their push for cheaper fees fell on deaf ears.

However festivals and cultural organisations will no longer have to submit cumbersome applications to the Classification Board for a formal exemption before they screen material, providing they satisfy criteria in the Classification Act.

The legislation will remove the need for reclassification when minor changes are made to computer games such as software updates or bug fixes, or when a new song is added to a karaoke game.

The reforms are the government's first response to proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the National Classification Scheme.

The Commission delivered further recommendations:

  • Abolish the legally binding age restriction on MA15+ rating so it becomes an advisory guidance.
  • Apply uniform classification categories to content aired across all platforms, including online and mobile.
  • Rename the RC (refused classification) category as Prohibited.
  • Retain the Classification Board for films and computer games but create a single agency to regulate the classification of media content, handle complaints and educate the public about the scheme.
  • Empower the Classification Board to review appeals, replacing the independent Classification Review Board.

But the prospects for widespread changes were ruled out by the state and federal Attorneys-General, who indicated last year that they would merely consider areas for short-term reforms.


6th May

Update: Super Censor...

Australia discusses a new media censor with a very broad remit
The Australian Press Council would be abolished and replaced with a single industry-led complaints body covering print, radio, television and internet news outlets under a proposed rewriting of media law.

And existing cross-media ownership regulations would be scrapped and replaced by a minimum number of owners rule and public interest test overseen by a powerful new media censor.

The long-awaited Convergence Review into Australia's media has found the regime overseeing newspapers, TV and radio news is outdated, thanks to the rise of the internet. The report recommends abolishing regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority, largely regarded astoothless, and creating a media censor incorporating the Classification Board.

The new complaints body would be funded almost entirely by its members, though the Government would be able to make contributions in unusual circumstances.

All media companies, or content service providers as they would be known, would have to be members of the new standards body and bound to publish corrections and clarifications as ordered. To encourage companies to join the industry standards body, the report suggests linking the right to legal privilege for news and commentary to membership.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gave no hint about whether the Government would adopt any of the recommendations, saying only he would respond in due course .


5th March

Refused Classification Prohibited...

Legalising the sale of hardcore in Australia

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report about rationalising media censorship across all formats has proposed some sensible reforms to remove some of the more ludicrous anomalies in Australian media censorship.

The current so called 'Refused Classification' (RC) category will be narrowed down a little and renamed to the more sensible tag, 'Prohibited'.

The ALRC first recommended that RC be renamed Prohibited to avoid confusion:

The plain meaning of the term is confusing, because content that is 'Refused Classification' has, in fact, received a classification. That is, the term is open to misunderstanding, because it does not make it clear that the content has been subject to a classification decision-making process.

The ALRC has recommended that the government should review prohibitions on the depiction of sexual fetishes in films and detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs , as well as refining prohibition on content that promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime to be only limited to serious crime .

ISPs would only be required to block prohibited content once it has been classified as being prohibited, the ALRC said, and, given the large amount of content online, the ALRC suggested that only a sub-category of prohibited content should be blocked by the filter, such as child-abuse material.

Another important recommendation of the review is that adult X18+ hardcore content need not be classified beyond the self declared X18+ label. At present such material may only be sold in shops in Canberra and the Northern Territory. It is recommended that it would be made legal across Australia.

But the regulation should be refined to protect minors from accessing the content. The ALRC conceded that it would not be possible for the Classification Board to classify all adult content online, suggesting that ISPs should take reasonable steps to restrict access to the content by minors, such as promoting family friendly filters, or potentially implementing age-verification tools for sites that the ISP knows to be classified X18+.

Pirate Party Supportive of ALRC Recommendation

See  article from

Government politicians have said little so far about the recommendations. However the Pirate Party have responded.

Pirate Party Australia has welcomed some of the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) about reforming the current classification system.

Several recommendations in the ALRC's final report conform to the Pirate Party's policies, the party said in a statement. David W. Campbell, Party President said that the recommendation to use the term Prohibited in place of the spineless and vague 'Refused Classification' label was a move in the right direction. Too much content is left in limbo. Hopefully this is a victory for common sense, and we will see less content lumped in with materials that truly deserve to be illegal, such as child pornography.

Speaking about freedom of expression, the Party statement approved the possible redefinition of the Prohibited category to narrow its scope and review the prohibitions on depictions of sexual fetishes. The Party believes that it is indicative of a progressive society and feels it is necessary to bring the category in line with what are socially acceptable practices to certain communities legally engaging in the practices depicted.

The Party however, raised an objection to the inclusion of a recommendation which has appeared to some to compel Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other intermediaries to filter the Internet. The Party has been continuously campaigning against the compulsory Internet filter proposed by Stephen Conroy, the present Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The inclusion of the toxic notion of Internet Service Provider obligations is once again flogging the dead horse of privacy encroachment and destructive breakdown of Australian citizens' rights, Campbell elaborated. Saying that the recommendation tries to convert ISPs into enforcement agencies, Campbell referred to the technical impracticalities of restricting any content on the Internet without destroying it. This expansion of 'intermediary liability' constantly rears its head in all facets of Internet governance --- it is both unwarranted and unnecessary, he said.


1st March

Classification: Content Regulation and Convergent Media...

Australian law Reform Commission publishes its report on rationalising media censorship

All media in Australia should be classified, and censored, in the same way, according to a landmark report published today.

Conducting the first review of Australia's classification laws in 20 years, the Australian Law Reform Commission found that the rapid rise of new forms of media had overtaken existing classification laws.

The review would have far-reaching implications for Australia's media. Radio and television broadcasters are subject to regulation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Television broadcasters are also subject to guidelines under the Commercial Television Code of Practice.

The report recommended:

  • One set of laws establishing obligations to classify or restrict access to content across media platforms.Clear scope of what must be classified: feature films and television programs, as well as computer games likely to be MA 15+ or higher, that are both made and distributed on a commercial basis, and likely to have a significant Australian audience.
  • A shift in regulatory focus to restricting access to adult content, by imposing new obligations on content providers to take reasonable steps to restrict access to adult content and to promote cyber-safety.
  • Co-regulation and industry classification, with more industry classification of content and industry development of classification codes, but subject to regulatory oversight.
  • Classification Board benchmarking and community standards, with a clear role for the Classification Board in making independent classification decisions that reflect community standards.
  • An Australian government scheme that replaces the current co-operative scheme with enforcement under Commonwealth law.
  • A single regulator with primary responsibility for regulating the new scheme.

Professor Flew of the ALRC said:

Classification criteria should also be reviewed periodically, to ensure they reflect community standards,

One category that may no longer align with community standards is 'Refused Classification' or 'RC'. The scope of this category should be narrowed, and the ALRC suggests changes for government to consider.

[So it is recommended that hardcore porn be legalised for sale across Australia with self classification by the industry. But all this in return for the adult industry taking on board strict conditions to ensure that the material is not sold to under 18s. In fact, any such restrictions will apply equally to softcore and even mainstream R18+ horror films for adults].


28th February

Update: Censored for the Moment...

Australian law Reform Commission delivers its report on rationalising media censorship

The Classification team delivered its Final Report on the Review of the National Classification Scheme to the Attorney-General. Under the ALRC Act, the Attorney-General now has 15 Parliamentary sitting days in which to table the Report. Until it is tabled, the Report is under embargo and the ALRC is unable to make any comment about its recommendations or the Report's content.

We have also produced a short Summary Report that provides an accessible overview of the ALRC's recommendations and approach to reform. Once these publications have been tabled, they will be available to view or download from the ALRC website.


15th January

 Offsite: Using a Hammer to Crack an Internet Poster's Nut...

A scary new Australian censorship enforcement regime applicable to individuals

See report [pdf] from


7th November

Update: Disputed Impact...

Australian games trade accepts the proposed censorship guidelines for R18+ games

The Australian trade group representing computer games producers has welcomed the proposed R18+ certificate for computer games.

However the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) says it is concerned about references in the document to the high impact of games on players.

The document contains a segment on interactivity and computer games which says:

Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule, computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors.

It goes on to say that interactivity may increase the impact of some content.

For example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries, death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity.

iGEA chief executive, Ron Curry, said in a statement that he had concerns about the acknowledgment in the guidelines that interactivity had a greater impact on players:

The Federal Attorney-General's office published a literature review in December 2010 that found no evidence to support these claims. There will be continued debate about whether the interactivity of video games has a greater impact than other forms of media, and we will continue to refer to the lack of the evidence.

However, Curry accepted that compromises were made to sweeten the pill for opponents, and added that the new guidelines appeared to exercise a high level of caution and balanced the range of views towards classifying video games.


4th November

Update: Adult Impact...

Proposed censorship guidelines released for R18+ games

The Australian government has published Final Agreed Draft Guidelines [pdf] that incorporates an adult R18+ rating into the censorship scheme  for games.

kotaku asked Brendan O’Connor, the minister in charge of censorship about the timetable for the introduction of the new guidelines.

David Emery, the Manager of Applications at the Classification Branch, has recently estimated that it would be at least two years until he received an application for an R18+ rated video game in Australia. O'Connor maintained that we wouldn't have to wait that long, but did concede that there were obstacles that have to be navigated. He said:

We need to make sure that the legislation is enacted in all of the jurisdictions so we can have this R18+ rating in effect next year. The commonwealth has begun drafting the necessary amendments and is on track to introduce it to parliament early next year.

Meanwhile Australia's New South Wales Attorney General Greg Smith has appeared on Australia's Channel 7 News calling for the ban of Grand Theft Auto IV. The news story also targets Saints Row The Third , claiming it glorifies blowing up petrol stations.

Elsewhere, Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby claims that Norwegian murderer Anders Behring Breivik's citing of Call of Duty as practice indicates that video games incite violence.

Published Final Agreed Draft Guidelines

Assessing impact

The Guidelines use the following hierarchy of impact:

  • very mild - G

  • mild - PG

  • moderate - M

  • strong - MA 15+

  • high - R 18+

  • very high - RC

Assessing the impact of material requires considering not only the treatment of individual classifiable elements but also their cumulative effect. It also requires considering the purpose and tone of a sequence. Impact may be higher where a scene or game-play sequence:

  • contains greater detail, including the use of close-ups and slow motion

  • uses accentuation techniques, such as lighting, perspective and resolution

  • uses special effects, such as lighting and sound, resolution, colour, size of image, characterisation and tone Dr 6

  • is prolonged

  • is repeated frequently

  • is realistic, rather than stylised

  • is highly interactive

  • links incentives or rewards to high impact elements.

Impact may be lessened where reference to a classifiable element is verbal rather than visual. For example, a verbal reference to sexual violence is generally of less impact than a visual depiction. Also, some visual impacts have less impact than others: for example, an incidental depiction may have less impact than a direct one. Some depictions in computer games may have less impact due to the stylised nature of computer generated images.

Interactivity and computer games

Interactivity is an important consideration that the Board must take into account when classifying computer games. This is because there are differences in what some sections of the community condone in relation to passive viewing or the effects passive viewing may have on the viewer (as may occur in a film) compared to actively controlling outcomes by making choices to take or not take action. Due to the interactive nature of computer games and the active repetitive involvement of the participant, as a general rule computer games may have a higher impact than similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film, and therefore greater potential for harm or detriment, particularly to minors.

Interactivity may increase the impact of some content: for example, impact may be higher where interactivity enables action such as inflicting realistically depicted injuries or death or post-mortem damage, attacking civilians or engaging in sexual activity. Greater degrees of interactivity (such as first-person gameplay compared to third-person gameplay) may also increase the impact of some content.


  • THEMES The treatment of strong themes should be justified by context.

  • VIOLENCE Violence should be justified by context. Strong and realistic violence should not be frequent or unduly repetitive. Sexual violence may be implied, if non-interactive and justified by context.

  • SEX Sexual activity may be implied. Sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards.

  • LANGUAGE Strong coarse language may be used. Aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent, and not exploitative or offensive.

  • DRUG USE Drug use should be justified by context. Drug use related to incentives or rewards is not permitted. Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not permitted.

  • NUDITY Nudity should be justified by context. Nudity must not be related to incentives or rewards.


  • THEMES There are virtually no restrictions on the treatment of themes.

  • VIOLENCE Violence is permitted. High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted. Sexual violence may be implied, if non-interactive and justified by context.

  • SEX Sexual activity may be realistically simulated. The general rule is simulation, yes – the real thing, no .

  • LANGUAGE There are virtually no restrictions on language.

  • DRUG USE Drug use is permitted. Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

  • NUDITY Nudity is permitted.


Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain any of the following:


Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.

The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.

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. Depictions of:

(i) violence with a very high degree of impact which are excessively frequent, prolonged, detailed or repetitive;
(ii) cruelty or realistic violence which are very detailed and which have a very high impact;
(iii) sexual violence.

Implied sexual violence related to incentives and rewards.


Depictions of practices such as bestiality.

Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:

(i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent;
(ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent.


Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.

Computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:

(i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;
(ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.


2nd November

Update: Australia Slow to Grow Up...

Adult gaming looks set to be delayed for another couple of years yet

Macquarie University hosted a public debate on the politics of play as part of the university's GAME festival, organised by the Interactive Media Institute. The debate considered issues surrounding the creation of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia and how interactive entertainment is treated compared to other forms of media such as films, as well as the impact of games on society.

One of the things that came out of the debate was the news that it seems that the already agreed introduction of an R18+ certificate for computer games looks unlikely to be introduced prior to the wider classification  review.

The final report of the classification review is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2012. Even if the recommended changes to the classification scheme are adopted, it still is probably going to take another couple of years before you're actually going to get an R18 you can apply for like a conventional classification that you have today, said David Emery from the Classification Branch, which is a public body supporting the operations of the Classification Board.

Emery said the legacy system of classification that Australia has been saddled with is a product of the R18 issue not being alive when the current classification scheme was created: Games are for kids, kids shouldn't have R material, and that's how it was; we've ended up with a legacy system... the fact of the matter is that it took a long time for a head of steam to get up from the gaming community to call for R18. It's really only been the last 18 months it's come onto the government's radar in a significant form.


14th October

 Offsite: Playing the Censorship Review Game...

Meet the Man Who Could Revolutionise Game Classification in Australia

See article from


1st October

Update: Rationalised Ratings and Censorship Delegated to Industry...

Australia presents proposals for censorship reform

Professor Terry Flew, Commissioner in charge of the National Classification Scheme Review has said:

In an age of media convergence, Australia needs a 21st century classification system that is more platform-neutral, concentrates government regulation on media content of most concern to the community, and a system that can be adapted to accelerated media innovation.

The goals of classification in balancing individual rights with community standards and protection of children remain vitally important, but we need a new framework that minimises costs and regulatory burden, and does not penalise Australian digital content industries in a hyper-competitive global media environment.

Drawing on over 2,400 submissions responding to its May Issues Paper, the Australian Law Reform Commission found that the existing classification framework is fragmented, approaches content inconsistently across media platforms, and is confusing for industry and the wider community.

The ALRC has now released the National Classification Scheme Review Discussion Paper [pdf] that puts forward 43 proposals for reform on which it is seeking public input.

These proposals focus on the introduction of a new Classification of Media Content Act covering classification on all media platforms, online, offline and television. The ALRC proposes what media content should continue to be classified, who should classify it, and who should have responsibility for enforcement.

The proposed new framework envisages:

  • a greater role for industry in classifying content, allowing government regulators to focus on the content that generates the most community concern, and ensure access to adult content is properly restricted;
  • content will be classified using the same categories, guidelines and markings whether viewed on television, at the cinema, on DVD or online;
  • changes to classification categories, with age references, PG 8+ and T 13+ (Teen), to help parents choose content for their children;
  • the Australian-wide Commonwealth taking on full responsibility for administering and enforcing the new scheme, rather than delegating this to individual states or territories.

Closing date for submissions is 18 November 2011.


5th September

Update: Having a Say...

Australian Law Reform Commission invitates people to join focus groups on the subject of censorship law reform

The Australian Law Reform Commissionis conducting a review of the classification system in Australia.

As part of this review, the ALRC will hold community focus groups to test the kind of content that may be permissible in higher level classification categories (MA15+ and above, including the Refused Classification category). This is a pilot project that will test a methodology for possible further assessment panels that might be held to determine community standards with regards to classification categories in the future.

The ALRC will convene two volunteer focus groups in Sydney at which participants will be asked to view and discuss films, computer games, publications and online content. NOTE: Participants will be asked to view material which they may find offensive, confronting and disturbing.

The Pilot will consist of two focus groups of 15 adults who represent a broad cross section of the Australian community. The ALRC seeks applications from members of the community to participate in this process.

Volunteers must be over 18 years of age.

Each focus group will be held on one day only for half a day. All groups will be held in Sydney on either Saturday 22 October, Monday 31 October, or Wednesday 2 November. You must be available to attend on one of these days.

Please complete the application form, and include a description comprising no more than 300 words outlining why you are interested in taking part in the focus groups. The ALRC wants to ensure that we include people from diverse communities and backgrounds and from all parts of Australia. You must also describe in your application how you believe you will deal personally with viewing and discussing the offensive and confronting material.

A limited number of volunteers will be selected to take part and will be notified by the ALRC no later than 14 October 2011. If you do not hear from the ALRC, you can presume that you have not been selected to participate at this time.

Participation in these focus groups is completely voluntary and no fee will be provided. However, the ALRC will cover reasonable costs that participants incur in order to attend the viewings and discussions, including economy airfares, one night's accommodation if necessary due to travel requirements, and taxi fares to and from the airport. Lunch on the day of the focus group will also be provided.

...See further details about application from


5th September

 Offsite: Having a Say...

The touchy topic of Australia's classification system

See article from


22nd July

 Offsite: Censors in the Doldrums...

Classification system 'broken': Pirate Party Australia

See article from


6th July

Update: Playing a Weak Game So far...

Call for more gamers' contributions to Australia's censorship review writes:

The closing date Submissions to the Issues Paper for the Australian Law Reform Commission is July 15 yet, despite being open since the middle of May, there are currently only 80 completed submissions. Time is running out.

Let's get motivated! These are important issues, and paramount to the way classification will be rebuilt post the Australian Law Reform Commission's report early next year.

For details and submissions see:


27th June

Update: Flawed Senators...

Australia's nutter senators call for censorship of art

The report, released last week by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, says the defence of artistic merit is not enough to allow some controversial works of art to be exhibited, particularly when it comes to those that depict children.

Chairman Tasmanian and nutter senator Guy Barnett said the current classification system was broken and flawed and the recommendation was striving for uniformity across all media platforms. Visual arts should not be exempt from our criminal laws and our anti-pornography laws, he said.

Art Gallery of SA director Nick Mitzevich responded saying a one size fits all approach to classification might be damaging to the industry. Most of the visual arts industry censors itself and understands the moral compass of the industry, he said. I think there's little evidence to support such a draconian approach - a one size fits all. It seems it's bureaucracy out of control.

National Association of Visual Arts executive director Tamara Winikoff hoped the Federal Government would wait until the Australian Law Reform Commission's concurrent inquiry into the classification was handed down in January before entertaining the idea of a ratings system. She warned against putting visual arts into the same category as other media. Between all sorts of cultural productions there are similarities, but the way the work is seen and understood is really very different, she said: You can't just lump apples and oranges together.


18th April

Update: Classic Nutters...

Submissions to Australian Senate classification review propose censorship of art exhibits

Australian artists could be forced to have their work checked by censors before being displayed. Some work could be blacklisted despite being legal, if nutter recommendations to a federal inquiry into Australia's film and literature classification scheme are accepted.

The Senate inquiry, launched by the nutter senator Guy Barnett, has heard submissions calling for any film containing full frontal nudity to be refused classification; artworks and books showing nudity to be classified; all artworks to be restricted to certain age groups; and that artistic merit should be abandoned when classifying art.

The executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, said many of the organisations that had made submissions to or spoken at the inquiry's hearings, and members of the inquiry, had tried to demonise artists and paint them as child pornographers.

We are particularly worried that artists might have to have all their work classified immediately, regardless of the material, she said. There is a sense [in the inquiry] that art is dangerous.

Senator Barnett, who chairs the inquiry, is a critic of the photographer Bill Henson, whose photograph of a naked 12-year-old girl sparked a ferocious debate in 2008. He questioned many of those appearing at the hearings about the Henson photographs.

The executive director of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, Robyn Ayres, said that: Classifying all artworks would create a huge workload for bureaucrats and impose heavy costs on artists who would have to pay for their work to be classified. It would create a huge hurdle for artists and it would create a chilling effect. We have already seen it with [the depiction of children in artworks]. Artists just don't want to be there ... there has been pressure taken over fairly innocuous work, she said, referring to the collapse of a charity auction for the Sydney Children's Hospital because hospital officials did not approve of a photograph of a six-year-old boy naked from the waist up.

The committee is to report by June 30.

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