Albanese Government outlines key reforms to National Classification Scheme
The Albanese Government has today announced a number of proposed improvements to the National Classification Scheme (the Scheme) and released the Review of Australian Classification Regulation (the Stevens Review) as it considers further comprehensive reforms to classification.
The Commonwealth will seek the agreement of States and Territories to introduce a mandatory minimum classification of R 18+ (Restricted to 18 and over) for games which contain simulated gambling and M (Mature – not recommended for persons under 15 years) for computer games containing paid loot boxes.
These stronger measures, which are an immediate priority for the Government, will help to protect those most vulnerable in our community from gambling harms, and signal that such games are not appropriate for children.
Recent research published by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts reveals an association between both loot boxes and simulated gambling and harms such as problem gambling.
Other proposed improvements respond to the fact that current regulatory arrangements for classification, developed in a time when physical media was predominant, are incompatible with the increasingly digital media environment. As a result, a large volume of online content is not compliant with the current Scheme. The changes will ensure Australian families and consumers are able to benefit from trusted and reliable information to guide their media choices, across all platforms.
The Government intends to expand options for industry to self-classify content, making it simpler and more cost effective for the film, streaming video and games industries to classify their content in line with Australian classification guidelines. The Classification Board will still have an important role in supporting the consistency and accuracy of industry classification decisions.
Other changes include minor amendments to cut unnecessary regulation. These include exemptions from classification for foreign language films distributed by public libraries and routine exhibitions hosted by cultural institutions, and removing the need to re-classify content that has already been classified for television.
Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, will seek the agreement of state and territory Attorneys-General, as co-partners to the Scheme, to the proposed updates to address gambling-like content. The Government will also consult with industry and other key stakeholders on broader classification reforms.
The Stevens Review is available at https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/review-australian-classification-regulation and recent classification research is available at www.classification.gov.au/about-us/research-and-publications.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“The Stevens Review, which the Government has today released, reveals a Scheme in need of significant change.
“That is why I have asked my department to also consider options for more comprehensive reform, including recommendations from the Stevens Review and other previous reviews and prior work on these issues, recent research, and industry and community feedback.
“The changes we are proposing today will help set the Scheme on the right path forward and I look forward to hearing from the community, industry, and my counterparts in state and territory government to ensure we deliver a system that reflects modern Australia.”