Terms of Reference

The ALRC received Terms of Reference for this Inquiry on 24 March 2011.

Review of Censorship and Classification

Having regard to:

  • it being twenty years since the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) was last given a reference relating to Censorship and Classification
  • the rapid pace of technological change in media available to, and consumed by, the Australian community
  • the needs of the community in this evolving technological environment
  • the need to improve classification information available to the community and enhance public understanding of the content that is regulated
  • the desirability of a strong content and distribution industry in Australia, and minimising the regulatory burden
  • 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
  • the size of the industries that generate potentially classifiable content and potential for growth
  • a communications convergence review, and
  • a statutory review of Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and other sections relevant to the classification of content

I refer to the ALRC for inquiry and report pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996, matters relating to the extent to which the Classification(Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), State and TerritoryEnforcement legislation, Schedules 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, and the Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship and related laws continue to provide an effective framework for the classification of media content in Australia.

Given the likelihood of concurrent Commonwealth reviews covering related matters as outlined above, the Commission will refer relevant issues to those reviews where it would be appropriate to do so. It will likewise accept referral from other reviews that fall within these terms of reference.

Such referrals will be agreed between the relevant reviewers.

1. In performing its functions in relation to this reference, the Commission will consider:

  1. relevant existing Commonwealth, State and Territory laws and practices
  2. classification schemes in other jurisdictions
  3. the classification categories contained in the Classification Act, National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines
  4. any relevant constitutional issues, and
  5. any other related matter.

2. The Commission will identify and consult with relevant stakeholders, including the community and industry, through widespread public consultation. Other stakeholders include the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Classification Board and Classification Review Board as well as the States and Territories.

3. The Commission is to report by 30 January 2012.