Classification cooperative scheme

2.6 The classification cooperative scheme for films, publications and computer games was implemented through the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) (Classification Act) and complementary state and territory enforcement legislation. The Classification Act is supplemented by a number of regulations, determinations and other legislative instruments, including the:

  • National Classification Code (May 2005);
  • Guidelines for the Classification of Publications 2005 (Cth); and
  • Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (Cth).

2.7 The cooperative classification scheme is underpinned by an Intergovernmental Agreement on Censorship, agreed to by the Commonwealth and all states and territories (the Intergovernmental Agreement). The Intergovernmental Agreement provides that each state and territory may choose how and whether to implement any particular classification decision, and requires that all ministers consider and approve any amendments to the National Classification Codeor Guidelines.[5]

The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board

2.8 The Classification Board is the primary body classifying films, publications and computer games in Australia. The Board may comprise up to 30 members, and currently has 12 members, including a Director and Deputy Director. The Governor-General appoints all members for either full or part-time appointments, having regard to ensuring the Board ‘is broadly representative of the Australian community’.[6] Currently, members are appointed for three-year terms, and may be reappointed, but they can serve no longer than seven years. The Board charges fees for classifying material prescribed by regulation.

2.9 The Classification Review Board is an independent body comprised of part-time members which reviews Classification Board decisions on application. Like the Classification Board, its members are intended to be broadly representative of the Australian community. The Classification Review Board considers a much smaller volume of material than the Board: in 2009–10, the Classification Review Board classified four films for public exhibition, one film not for public exhibition, two computer games and one publication.[7]

[5]Agreement Between the Commonwealth of Australia, the States and Territories Relating to a Revised Co-operative Legislative Scheme for Censorship in Australia (1995) pt III.

[6]Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) s 48.

[7] Classification Review Board, Annual Report 2009–10, 62.