Changes to modernise Australia’s Classification Scheme on their way
A key milestone in the process to reform the National Classification Scheme has been achieved with the Australian Government’s Classification Amendment Bill passed by Parliament last night.
The Bill represents the first stage in a two-stage process, announced by the Government earlier this year, to reform the Scheme and make it fit-for-purpose in today’s media environment. These reforms will ensure that all Australians, particularly Australian families, continue to benefit from trusted and reliable classification information to guide their media choices.
Prioritising immediate improvements to the existing Scheme, the Bill expands options for industry to self-classify content including film and computer games using either in-house or third-party classifiers who have been trained and accredited by Government.
The Bill also extends the Classification Board’s powers to quality assure self-classification decisions, expands classification exemptions to include low-risk cultural content made available by libraries and museums, and introduces a ‘classify once’ principle so content classified for broadcast can be shown in other formats using the same classification.
The changes, which will come into effect from early 2024, will improve the capacity of the National Classification Scheme to classify growing volumes of content, promote industry compliance and reduce classification timeframes and costs. They will also increase access to cultural content in public libraries and approved cultural institutions.
In addition to these reforms, the Government is continuing to work with state and territory governments to introduce mandatory minimum classifications for computer games containing gambling-like content, such as paid loot boxes and simulated gambling.
It is intended that the second stage of classification reforms will clarify the Scheme’s purpose and scope, establish fit-for-purpose regulatory and governance arrangements, and improve the responsiveness of the Scheme to evolving community standards and expectations.
A public consultation process on these reforms is expected to commence later this year.
For information on the Scheme visit www.classification.gov.au
Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“As consumption of media changes in Australia, we need to ensure our classification scheme keeps evolving to meet new needs – enabling Australians to make informed choices about what they, and those in their care, watch, read and play.
“Further to the important reforms achieved in this Bill, the Albanese Government will continue to work with industry, and state and territory governments on further improvements to ensure the Classification system remains a trusted source of information for the Australian community.”