Published on 27 July 2011.

Issue 6 | 27 July 2011   View original format

Firstly, thanks to everyone who took the time to read our Issues Paper and make a submission. We have received more than 2,400 submissions, which is a record for any ALRC inquiry, and a testimony to the interest that issues of media classification have in the community. We are currently working through these submissions to generate our proposals for the September Discussion Paper.

ALRC commissioners present at SCAG in Adelaide

ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher and ALRC Commissioner, Professor Terry Flew, had the opportunity to make a presentation on the National Classification Scheme Review to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) held in Adelaide from 21-22 July. SCAG meetings, which usually occur three times a year, bring together all state and territory Attorneys-General, along with the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor. We outlined progress on the review thus far, including the significant response to our May Issues Paper, and provided an overview of how the Review will proceed in coming months.  

In-principle agreement at SCAG on R18+ classification for games

The major decision coming out of the SCAG meeting that is relevant to the National Classification Scheme Review was the in-principle agreement among state and territory Attorneys-General to introduce an R18+ adults only classification for computer games in Australia. NSW abstained from endorsing the proposal for now, but is considering it.

Minster O’Connor described the decision in these terms:

This is a big step forward in the long running debate on classification of computer games for adults ... The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material. Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults. It is a credit to all jurisdictions that the meeting has now been able to achieve agreement over what is a complex matter in classification policy.

I thank all jurisdictions for their support for what is not just a practical public policy, but also very popular policy. (See full statement >>)

Some jurisdictions will now seek approval from their respective Cabinets for the final version of the computer game guidelines, and then the Commonwealth will draft the necessary legislation.

Next steps

The question of an R18+ classification for computer games has certainly been a major issue raised in submissions in response to the ALRC Issues Paper. Even if this question was your primary concern, we encourage your further engagement with the Review and would welcome your feedback to the important proposals that will be raised in the Discussion Paper.

The ALRC’s classification team is now working through the 2,400-plus submissions and continuing to conduct face-to-face consultations with various stakeholder groups. We will use all this valuable information to develop a Discussion Paper, which will be released in mid-September. The ALRC will then call for public feedback on the detailed proposals for reform contained in that paper.