For release: July 21, 2011
The Australian Christian Lobby has urged classification ministers meeting in Adelaide tomorrow to delay a decision on allowing more violent and sexually explicit games onto the Australian market until after the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has completed its inquiry into the classification system.
“With the first comprehensive review of the National Classification Scheme in 20 years already well underway, it is appropriate that ministers wait until after the independent ALRC review process had run its course,” said ACL’s spokesman Rob Ward.
“There is widespread public concern that the existing classification scheme is broken. Ministers should not feel pressured to pre-empt the genuine opportunity for comprehensive reform across all media platforms that the ALRC’s review offers, and should not take a piecemeal approach at tomorrow’s SCAG meeting.”
ACL was concerned that a Commonwealth proposal to apply the same guidelines for R18+ films to computer games would be a backward step not in the best interests of children.
“These guidelines have given us films with extreme violence, actual sex and simulated paedophilia. This is clearly content that no parent would want to see in an interactive computer game platform,” Mr Ward said.
With the Commonwealth having commissioned the ALRC to overhaul the classification system, including the classification of games, it was unclear why the Commonwealth was pushing for a decision tomorrow, six months before the ALRC is due to report.
ACL reaffirmed its position that liberalising the classification system for games with an R18+ rating as proposed would not be in the interests of children.
“Although in theory re-badging some MA15+ games as R18+ would place them in a category of restricted sale, until there is an effective enforcement system and a suite of deterrents in place, parents can have little confidence their children will actually be prevented from accessing such games, as routinely occurs in other countries with an R18+ equivalent rating,” Mr Ward said.
“The ALRC now has the unprecedented chance to devise a workable, consistent and adaptable classification scheme for the contemporary media environment that empowers parents to make informed choices for their children across all media platforms, and that protects children from harm.
“Until such a system exists, there should be no moves to liberalise the existing classification system with the potential release of even higher levels of graphic violence and interactive sex,” he said.