The Government has announced its intention to reform the National Classification Scheme (the Scheme) in two stages. A number of improvements will be prioritised while further comprehensive reform is considered.
First stage reforms aim to address concerns about gambling-like content in computer games and to better align regulation under the Scheme with the modern media environment.
Subject to agreement from states and territories as co-partners in the Scheme, the Government will 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 and other in-game purchases linked to elements of chance. These stronger measures will help protect those most vulnerable in the community from gambling harms, and signal that such games are not appropriate for children.
The Government will also 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. The Classification Board will still have an important role in supporting the consistency and accuracy of industry classification decisions.
Other minor amendments will cut unnecessary regulation, by introducing 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.
These changes have been informed by recent research as well as the Review of Australian Classification Regulation (the Stevens Review), conducted by Mr Neville Stevens AO in 2020. The final report of the ‘Review of Australian classification regulation’ (the Stevens Review) is available to read here.
The Stevens Review included extensive consultation with industry, community members and interested stakeholders. It adds to the growing evidence base supporting the need to update Australia’s classification scheme to reflect modern content and delivery platforms, meet the changing needs of industry and continue to provide appropriate information and protections for consumers of all ages.