The Australian Classification Board (ACB), formerly known as the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), is a statutory censorship and classification body which provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board which classified films, video games and publications in Australia, and the Classification Review Board which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made. Originally founded as the OFLC, it was dissolved in 2006. The Attorney-General's Department now provides administrative support to the ACB.
In February 2006 Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced that the policy and administrative functions of the OFLC would become part of the Attorney-General’s Department, and, while the Classification Board and Classification Review Board would continue to make classification decisions, they would be serviced by a secretariat from the Attorney-General’s Department.
Donald McDonald has been named as the new director but yet to be appointed by the Attorney-General’s Department. Critics are concerned the appointment facilitates the Government's ability to control or restrict material, in particular that which incites or instructs terrorism.
The current members of the Classification Board:
- Olya Booyar (deputy director)
- Wendy Banfield (senior classifier)
- Marie-Louise Carroll (senior classifier)
- Jeremy Fenton
- Alexandra Greene
- Robert Sanderson
- Rodney Smith
- Lynn Townsend
The current members of the Classification Review Board:
- Maureen Shelley (convenor)
- Trevor Griffin (deputy convenor)
- Rob Shilkin
- Kathryn Smith
- Gillian Groom
- Anthony Hetrih
Classification of Video Games
Despite a line in the National Classification Code stating that "adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want", the adult R18+ classification does not currently exist for video games.
The ACB takes a strict stance with video games and video game classification in Australia is the most strict in the Western World in terms of not having an adult's rating (R18+) with some Attorneys-General having conservative views on the matter. Though Australia has no R rating, there are many examples of games getting much lenient ratings than other countries. Such games would include Halo 3 which got an M (BBFC:15, ESRB: M (17), New Zealand (R16)), The Witcher got an MA15+ (18 from PEGI, BBFC, cut for ESRB for a M (17)), Dead Rising a MA15+ (18 from BBFC and PEGI, Z from CERO), and Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 getting a PG (17 from ESRB and CERO).
Currently only Michael Atkinson, South Australian Attorney-General opposes the R18 classification introduction and is also blocking the release of a public paper that canvasses the opinion of the Australian public on whether or not an R18 classification should be introduced. Studies done by Bond University indicate that a majority of people whom they interviewed want an R18 rating to be introduced and many Psychologists back this study and condemn Michael Atkinson.
The classifications below are advisory in nature—they are not legally binding.
E (Exempt from Classification) - These films are granted permission to be sold without a specific classification. This classification is usually granted to (and not limited to) educational content such as documentaries, concerts, fitness programmes, educational software, live TV and non-violent sporting events. Currently there is no predetermined marking for exempt films and computer games , although it is advised that films and computer games that are exempt display “This film/computer game is exempt from classification”.
The content varies depending on the show / film. Any film or computer game which is to be rated E must not exceed the PG rating.
G (General) - These films and computer games are for general viewing. However, G does not necessarily designate a children’s film or game as many of these productions contain content that would be of no interest to children.
The content is minimal in impact.
PG (Parental guidance recommended) - These films and computer games contain material that may confuse or upset younger viewers.
The content is mild in impact on children.
M (Recommended for mature audiences) - These films and computer games contain material that requires a mature perspective, but is still not enough to be deemed too extreme for younger players. This classification was formerly known as M15+, but was changed to simply M to distinguish it from the higher (and restricted) rating of MA15+. This is the highest unrestricted rating.
The content is moderate in impact.
By contrast, the classification below is legally restricted—i.e., it is illegal to sell or exhibit materials so classified to a person younger than the respective age limit.
MA15+ (Restricted) - The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under 15 may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian. This is a legally restricted category.
There are five classification categories for video games: E, G, PG, M, MA15+. Video games which exceed the impact of what the MA15+ rating allows are rated Refused Classification, or banned. Refused Classification games may be edited and resubmitted by their developers to garner an MA15+ classification. People under 15 are not permitted to purchase or rent films or video games classified MA15+ unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
G - Titles rated with the original G rating have been assessed to be suitable for gamers of all ages.
G8+ - Titles rated with the original G8+ rating have been assessed to contain inappropriate for persons under eight years.
M15+ - Titles rated with the original M15+ rating have been assessed to contain material that might be inappropriate for persons under 15 years.
MA15+ - Titles rated with the original MA15+ rating have been assessed to contain material that is not suitable for people under 15, and are only allowed to be purchased or played by adults.
|ESRB (United States/Canada/Mexico)|
|PEGI (Europe) • BBFC (UK) • ELSPA (UK, retired) • USK (Germany) • VET (Finland)|
|CERO (Japan, console) • EOCS (Japan, PC/mobile) • GRB (South Korea)|
|ACB (Australia) • OFLC (New Zealand)|
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