Published on 20 May 2011.
News Section: 

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released an issues paper for its inquiry into the National Classification Scheme—National Classification Scheme Review Issues Paper (ALRC IP 40, 2011).

The ALRC has been asked to report on the extent to which the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, state and territory enforcement 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.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said:

“The Terms of Reference for this inquiry ask the ALRC to undertake widespread public consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the community and industry. The release of the Issues Paper is a first step in this consultation process—and, not surprisingly, there is already considerable interest in participating in the inquiry. I am delighted that we now have Professor Terry Flew on board as Commissioner in charge of this important review.”

The ALRC seeks feedback on a range of questions, including: What should be the primary objectives of a national classification scheme? Should the technology or platform used to access content affect whether content should be classified? What should be the respective roles of government agencies, industry bodies and users in the regulation of content? What are the most effective methods of controlling access to online content, access to which would be restricted under the National Classification Scheme? Is there a need for new classification categories?

ALRC Commissioner in charge of the inquiry, Professor Terry Flew, stated:

“A key question for this review will be to consider the applicability of the existing classifications framework to the online world, and the costs to both industry and government of administering classifications in the context of media convergence. Our challenge will be to ensure that media services available to Australians reflect community standards overall, while recognising that more and more people are accessing content online, as well as ensuring that Australian media and digital content industries have the best opportunities to create jobs and exports in a rapidly changing technological environment.”

The Issues Paper is available on the ALRC’s website. CD-ROM copies can also be ordered from the ALRC.

Online submissions addressing the questions in the Issues Paper are encouraged. Information about how to make an online submission is available at http://www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/classification/respond-issues-papers. Written submissions can also be posted, faxed or emailed to the ALRC. The responses to the Issues Paper will help inform the development of draft recommendations for reform to be released in a discussion paper later in the year.

Closing date for submissions is 15 July 2011.

To subscribe to the National Classification Review e-newsletter please go to http://www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/classification/subscribe-e-news

The inquiry also has a dedicated page on Facebook, which comprises updates about the progress of the inquiry as well as items of interest in the media. The ALRC uses its Twitter feed to update followers about the ALRC’s work, and uses the hashtag #clasrev when tweeting specifically about the Review.

Further information about the ALRCs inquiry can be found at www.alrc.gov.au.