Next step in modernising Australia's Classification Scheme

The Australian Government has taken the next step to modernise the National Classification Scheme with the Classification Amendment Bill introduced to parliament today.
 
Earlier in the year, the Government announced a two-stage process to reform the Scheme and make it fit for the modern media environment.
 
The first stage of reforms delivered in this Bill will prioritise immediate improvements to the existing Scheme by:

  • expanding options for industry to self-classify content using accredited classifiers,
  • extending the Classification Board’s powers to quality assure self-classification decisions,
  • expanding classification exemptions to include low-risk cultural content made available by libraries and museums, and
  • introducing a ‘classify once’ principle so content classified for broadcast can be shown in other formats using the same classification.

The 2020 Review of Australian classification regulation (Stevens Review), which the Government released in March this year, found that the Scheme has not kept pace with the way Australians access media content, particularly the rapid growth in online content, or with evolving community standards.
 
These amendments will improve the capacity of the Scheme to deal with large volumes of online content, promote industry compliance, and increase access to cultural content in public libraries and approved cultural institutions.
 
In parallel, the Government is working with state and territory governments to introduce mandatory minimum classifications for computer games containing gambling-like content, such as loot boxes and simulated gambling. Public submissions on the proposed changes to the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games are currently being considered.
 
The second stage of classification reforms will deliver comprehensive reform to the Scheme, including potential changes to clarify its purpose and scope, and establish fit-for-purpose regulatory and governance arrangements. Consideration will also be given to classification criteria and 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:
 
“Australians rely on the classification system to make informed choices about the content that they, and those in their care, watch, read and play. Continued inaction to modernise the Scheme threatens its integrity and the confidence Australians have in it as a trusted source of information.
 
“The amendments introduced today are a key step towards reforming the National Classification Scheme to ensure that it reflects today’s online media environment and meets the needs of modern Australia.”