9.67 Classification criteria used in making classification decisions, including the appropriate limits and thresholds for content at each individual category, should reflect community standards and also be evidence-based. Periodic reviews of classification decision-making criteria would therefore be usefully informed by relevant research.
9.68 The ALRC proposes that a comprehensive review of community standards in Australia towards media content needs to be undertaken, combining both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, with broad reach across the Australian community. In order to obtain longitudinal data, the exercise should be undertaken at five-yearly intervals.
9.69 Such a study would need to draw upon urban, regional and rural populations, and the full range of culturally and linguistically diverse segments of the Australian population, as well as being representative in terms of age, gender and the state or territories in which people live. This research would be undertaken by an entity independent of government.
9.70 The former Office of Film and Literature Classification also conducted or commissioned research into community standards including the use of Community Assessment Panels, interviews and focus groups involving members of the public viewing and playing films and computer games and assigning classification decisions. While useful and important, such studies were nonetheless limited by their reference to the existing classification guidelines.
9.71 A broader attitudinal survey would provide valuable findings for informing future reviews of classification criteria and guidelines and might also be useful for considering matters raised in some submissions such as:
the adequacy of the existing classifiable elements, for example, whether there should be other classifiable elements such as ‘fear’ or ‘scariness’; and
the usefulness of an impact test for determining classification (impact may be a subjective test, but the ALRC doubts it can be avoided).
Proposal 9–5 A comprehensive review of community standards in Australia towards media content should be commissioned, combining both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, with a broad reach across the Australian community. This review should be undertaken at least every five years.
 Australian Council on Children and the Media, Submission CI 1236, 15 July 2011.
Community Assessment Panels Final Report (2004) prepared by Urbis Keys Young for the Office of Film and Literature Classification.
Classification Decisions and Community Standards (2007) prepared by Galaxy Research for the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department.