Classification e-news | Results of the discussion forum; focus groups

Issue 8 | 7 September 2011 

Online discussion forum overview

Over the course of three weeks, the ALRC hosted an online discussion forum encouraging comment on a set of eight draft principles that are being proposed as the foundations of a new National Classification Scheme. The forum attracted 98 comments, from 29 participants. We would like to thank everybody who participated in the discussion.

Commenting is now closed but the discussion is still online for viewing: It is difficult to do justice to all of the comments. We can, however, note some of the key issues raised in relation to the draft principles.

  • In relation to Principle 1 – regarding the right for Australians to see, hear and participate in the media of their choice – the question of a “right to publish/communicate” arose
  • The need for a rigorous review of community standards, that can also track changes over time
  • Need for more age-based granularity in an understanding of “children”
  • Concept of “harm” from media needs to be better defined
  • Classification as consumer information should be understood separately from its use as a basis for restricting access to media content
  • Different views on whether “public” media and the Internet should be treated differently in principle (as distinct from what is practicable)
  • Need to give industry/producers/distributors more direct ownership of classification process in order to get greater responsiveness, particularly from overseas entities
  • Mandatory schemes encourage the movement of activities offshore
  • Purpose of regulation needs to be justifiable, not just clear
  • Differing views on desirability of “platform neutral” classification
  • Inconsistencies in current arrangements for training and accreditation of media classifiers. An additional principle was suggested, that “the classification framework should require a consistent standard in relation to training and accreditation of classifiers”
  • Any future scheme needs to recognise the realities of what is possible

View the discussion online >>

Pilot project: focus groups

Last weekend the ALRC placed advertisements in 19 different newspapers around Australia calling for volunteers to participate in focus groups. The focus groups (2 groups of 15 people) are intended 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.
Applications close on 19 September 2011. We have received around 500 applications so far.
Find out more about the focus groups >>

Upcoming Discussion Paper

We plan to release the Discussion Paper on 30 September, calling for submissions in response to a range of proposals and questions. The deadline for submissions will be 14 November 2011, so stakeholders intending to make a submission should allot some time to do so during this period. As we have to report by the end of January, stakeholders need to keep to the timetable for submissions. 

We will also, at that stage, undertake a further round of national consultations.