10.1 In this chapter, the ALRC recommends that content providers should take reasonable steps to restrict access to adult content they distribute to the Australian public. This is consistent with the principle that children should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them.

10.2 ‘Adult content’ is media content that has been classified R 18+ or X 18+ and media content that would be likely to be classified R 18+ or X 18+. These classifications are high thresholds, but when the thresholds are met, the content should be restricted to adults—whether the content is a feature film, a film clip, a computer game, a magazine, a website, or any other type of media content distributed to the public. Although restricting access to this content presents difficulties online, those who provide this content should have some obligation to try to warn potential viewers and help prevent minors from accessing it, irrespective of the platform used to deliver the content.

10.3 The steps content providers should be expected to take might vary, perhaps depending on the type of content provider and the platform or delivery method. The chapter reviews various methods of restricting access, including prohibitions on sale and hire to minors, parental locks on televisions and media devices, internet filters, warning messages and online age verification systems.

10.4 Some of these methods may only be suitable for some content providers. Simple prohibitions on sale and distribution, drawing upon common age-verification methods, will often work offline, and may be enforced. However, such methods are more problematic online.

10.5 Protecting minors from adult content relies heavily on parental supervision and the effective use of PC-based filters and parental locks. Promoting the use of these tools may be one important way that content providers can comply with their statutory obligation to take reasonable steps to restrict access to adult content.

10.6 The ALRC recommends that methods of restricting access to online and offline content should be set out in industry codes and Regulator standards, enforced by the Regulator.