3. Children should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them
The ALRC welcomes discussion on this principle, and particularly around its relationship to Principles 1 and 2.
The National Classification Scheme makes a distinction between the ‘reasonable adult’ on the one hand, and children on the other. This is expressed in the principle of the National Classification Code that “Minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them.” The ALRC has been asked, as part of its Terms of Reference, to consider “the impact of media on children and the increased exposure of children to a wider variety of media including television, music and advertising as well as films and computer games”.
Many respondents to the ALRC Issues Paper indicated that they felt that the protection of children was a primary objective of the scheme. It was noted that Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires “the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being “, and that “Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse ... [including the] exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials”.
A number of respondents have argued that the principles that adults should be able to freely access material and the protection of children need not be in conflict, although they present a balancing act in developing a new national classification scheme.