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Pages tagged "classification"
MR: Draft R18+ computer game guidelines fail families
· May 25, 2011 10:00 AM
For release: Wednesday May 25, 2011
The draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games are contrary to the interests of parents and their children, the Australian Christian Lobby has said.
The draft guidelines, released by the Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor today, would allow almost precisely the same guidelines for R18+ films to apply to computer games, allowing games with a ‘high’ impact to be legal in Australia for the first time.
“Not only is this proposal contrary to the claim that the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games would protect children by merely relocating existing MA15+ games to a new R18+ category, it would inevitably open the Australian hire and sale markets to a higher level of graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive games,” ACL’s chief of staff Lyle Shelton said.
“For the very first time, computer games with sexual activity that may be ‘realistically simulated’, and games with ‘virtually’ no restrictions on language and the treatment of themes such as racism and suicide, would be legal in Australia according to the draft guidelines.
“Allowing the almost exact same guidelines that caused the film ‘Salo’ to be legally available for sale in Australia under the R18+ category to also apply to computer games is especially troubling given the Director of the Classification Board, Mr Donald McDonald, justified that decision in Senate estimates hearings by saying that ‘
Simulated paedophilia could be acceptable in the context of a particular film
“The even remote possibility of such content becoming legal in interactive form is truly frightening.”
Mr Shelton questioned how allowing games with higher impact to be legally available in Australia would ‘provide safeguards to restrict the availability of material that is unsuitable for children’ or remove ‘unsuitable material from children and teenagers’,
“Research shows that American children regularly play ‘adult games’, despite the official rating.
“There is little to suggest Australian children would not also be able to access such games regardless of their rating, thereby contradicting the suggestion that welfare of children was the key motivator for liberalising the classification of computer games.”
Even gaming interests were now honestly re-evaluating the veracity of supposed benefits to children of an R18+ rating:
“Of course, protecting children is a main concern for us. But he [WA MP Nick Goiran] does have a small point. Somewhere along the line,
we switched our main message from “Adults should be able to play what they want” to the
“Children will be better protected with this new rating.
“It’s time to stop pretending an R18+ rating for computer games is a child protection measure,” said Mr Shelton.
MR: R18+ games debate descends to farce
· April 12, 2011 10:00 AM
For release: Tuesday April 12, 2011
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has expressed concern today that the R18+ computer game debate was descending into farce following the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor’s appeal to employment opportunities and the economy as justifications for allowing more violent and sexually explicit games into Australia.
“Linking an apparent boost in the economy to the creation of more graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive computer games reduces this debate to farce,” said ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace.
“Ensuring children are not exposed to the introduction of violent games should come before industry profits and economic concerns.
“First the creation of the R18+ rating was meant to be about the rights of adults to play adult games, then it was supposedly about protecting children, and now it is about creating jobs and boosting the economy,” he said.
“Adults have a duty to consider the costs of their choices, especially when doing so will see more children accessing violent games. With US research showing that children there regularly play ‘adult games’ such as
Grand Theft Auto
, nobody can honestly claim that placing an ‘R’ on the package will prevent Australian children from also accessing such material.
“Introducing an R18+ rating for games has never been a child protection measure, and this new claim to major economic benefit from R18+ games reflects a mark of desperation in the debate,” said Mr Wallace.
Mr Wallace urged the Attorneys-General around Australia to think carefully before opening the doors to more violent games, which credible research clearly demonstrates does do harm to children.
ACL appears at classification inquiry
· March 31, 2011 11:00 AM
Last Friday, 25 March, the ACL’s Lyle Shelton and Ben Williams appeared as witnesses before public hearings of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Australian film and literature classification scheme. In the opening statement, Lyle said:
“At present the contemporary media environment is toxic for children; as the PM notes, especially for girls. This is because our classification system is a failure. Like big tobacco before it, commercial vested interests will beg to differ with family groups, child advocates and the academic research which shows their products are harmful to children. How many more government inquiries will there be before action is taken? This issue has gone beyond the tipping point and if root and branch reform does not result from this Senate inquiry and the accompanying Australian Law Reform Commission review this year, then we will be back again here going over the same old ground.”
to read the rest of the evidence provided by the ACL before the hearings, and
for a copy of ACL’s submission to the inquiry.
Why the sex trade is wrong to push for R18+ games
· January 26, 2011 11:00 AM
[caption id="attachment_4655" align="alignleft" width="126" caption="Experts warn that violent video games are harmful to children"]
ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace was recently asked to contribute to the ABC’s technology + games online discussion. This discussion has been prompted by the Federal Government’s pre-Christmas announcement that it will review the National Classification System. Jim's article is
Also writing for the ABC is Professor Elizabeth Handsley, Professor of Law at Flinders University. She argues strongly against the introduction of interactive violent video games through an R18+ rating. Her article is
Classification system should provide respite for innocence of children
· January 21, 2011 11:00 AM
ACL's Managing Director Jim Wallace today posted a blog article on the ABC's technology and games site.
He writes: "When it comes to protecting children and community standards, the authorities are asleep at the wheel."
to read the rest of the article.
ACL welcomes review of classification system
· December 22, 2010 11:00 AM
For release: December 22, 2010
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomes the announcement of a review of the classification system by the Attorney-General yesterday.
“It is not only changes to technology, media convergence and global access that justify this,” said ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace, “but the complete failure of our current system.
“When Donald McDonald, as the Classification Board Chair, is repeatedly unable to explain the presence of sexual reward in games and issues like simulated paedophilia in films, when both are specifically forbidden, the system and its enforcement need completely revising.”
Mr Wallace said he was hopeful that the review would include assessing the improvements in technology that permit better control of content.
“Only this week ISPs in the United Kingdom have acknowledged they amazingly can filter pornography from the converging media of internet, phone and TV, despite years of denial like their Australian counterparts,” said Mr Wallace. “It is amazing how the threat of legislation or enforcement can advance technology!”
“Hopefully this review will look for similar opportunities to protect children.”
Online survey about TV choices for children
· December 09, 2010 11:00 AM
ACL supporters with children under the age of 8 are encouraged to take part in a new online survey launched by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM).
The ‘Choices for Children Survey’ takes no more than 20 minutes to complete and aims to give parents a chance to comment on TV choices for children and what they think can be done to improve them.
The ACCM conducts research, provides information and acts as an advocate on behalf of children and parents in matters relating to media.
To participate in the survey please go to
and look for the online survey button ‘Choices for Children Survey’. Closing date for the survey is Monday December 20, 2010.
Dollars and spin driving violent video game push
· December 06, 2010 11:00 AM
The push to legalise interactive gratuitous violence in video games has been spun as a child protection measure despite the advice of every Children’s Commissioner in Australia.
Australian Christian Lobby Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said it was wrong for the Federal Government and the gaming industry to claim that introducing an R18+ rating was in the best interests of children when it was exactly the opposite. He also took issue with the Government’s selective use of polling to claim public support.
“It is unbelievable to see this debate being twisted by spin to such an extent that having an R18+ classification is now being promoted as something that will benefit children. How does introducing new violent media into Australia benefit children especially when we know that these games will inevitably find their way into the hands of children?” Mr Shelton said.
“And if this is so good for children why have the Children’s Commissioners and Guardians from every State and Territory in Australia opposed the move and stated in their
that the introduction of an R18+ classification would ‘adversely impact on the safety and wellbeing of children and young people’?
“Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor’s statement that dozens of games which have been restricted to adults overseas have been allowed into the MA15+ rating here is an admission that the system he is in charge of is failing to correctly classify material. This is not an argument for liberalising the classification system, already widely recognised as broken, it is an argument for ensuring classifiers do their job properly in the first place.”
Mr Shelton said Mr O’Connor’s selective use of the results of a telephone survey to claim 80% support for an R18+ classification for games was also a concern.
“I note that Mr O’Connor’s media statement fails to mention that the same survey found that two in three (70%) Australians agree that it would be difficult for parents to stop children from accessing R18+ games. The survey also found that 63% of Australians agree that playing violent computer games results in real life violence and that 59% of Australians agree that computer games should be classified differently, because the gamer is invited to participate in the violence, not just watch it,” he said.
“Clearly parents are very concerned about the effects of violent computer games and one has to wonder if they were misled into thinking lifting the ban on violent games would benefit children, when the opposite is true.”
Mr Shelton said the gaming industry stood to make a lot of money from having the ban on violent games lifted. “It is disappointing to think that the government is accepting the arguments of the gaming industry above those of Children’s Commissioners on the issue of child welfare. We urge State and Territory Censorship Ministers to consider this issue carefully and to keep in place the ban on extreme and interactive violent video games at Friday’s meeting.”
Violent video game decision imminent
· November 18, 2010 11:00 AM
The long-running debate over whether to allow for legal sale and hire in Australia video games with higher impact content of a violent and/or sexual nature is set to reach a conclusion soon.
The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is meeting in Canberra on December 10 to discuss whether to include in the National Classification Scheme (NCS) an R18+ rating for computer games.
Ever since the introduction of the NCS, governments have only allowed games up to the MA15+ rating on the basis that interactive games have a higher impact than similarly-rated films – an R18+ game was considered to have a higher impact than an R18+ movie.
Pressure from gaming interests, however, has caused a re-think of the classification regime for games, with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department conducting a consultation on behalf of classification ministers.
Those ministers are set to discuss the findings of the consultation, and perhaps make a final decision on whether to include an R18+ classification rating for games, at their December meeting.
R18+ no game
' is ACL’s campaign against the introduction of the R18+ rating for games. The site spells out in detail our objections to allowing more violent games into the Australian market, and invariably into the hands of children via older siblings or friends.
If you’re concerned about the proliferation of graphically violent and sexually explicit media content, please use the recently updated 'R18+ no game' campaign site to send a short email to your State or Territory Attorney-General asking him or her to reject the R18+ rating for games.
The next few weeks will no doubt be critical in seeing a positive outcome to this debate. A great article dispelling some of the misinformation about R18+ games was written by Professor of Law Elizabeth Handsley. Well worth a read, the article can be found
Senate inquiry into Australia’s broken classification system
· November 17, 2010 11:00 AM
In an important step forward in fixing Australia’s broken classification system, the Senate has voted to conduct an inquiry into the National Classification Scheme for film, literature and other forms of media.
Liberal Senator Guy Barnett yesterday successfully moved a motion which will see the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee conduct an inquiry into the Australian film and literature classification scheme, reporting back by June 30 next year.
The inquiry is to particularly focus on issues such as: the enforcement system; the effectiveness of the scheme in preventing the sexualisation of children; the classification and impact of R18+ and X18+ films; the possibility of including outdoor advertising (such as billboards) in the classification scheme; the application of the scheme to music videos; and the effectiveness of the scheme in dealing with new technologies and new media. Please click
to read Senator Barnett’s media release and the full wording of his notice of motion.
ACL has been calling for a comprehensive review of the classification system for years and strongly welcomes the Senate inquiry.
The current system is clearly not working and, among other things, has led to a toxic media culture which is having a devastating impact on vulnerable young people. As they grow up they are being bombarded with sexual messages via everything from billboards to films to music videos.
Among other failings in the current classification system, there has also been
to show that the system is incapable of preventing unclassified pornography from becoming easily available for sale in stores across Australia – with call-in notices being unenforced.
In the lead up to the recent Federal election, ACL sought commitments from both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for a comprehensive review of Australia’s media environment, with both leaders voicing their concerns about the sexualisation of children in the media. Ms Gillard reaffirmed her support for ISP filtering and Mr Abbott specifically acknowledged the need for another review of the media classification system “tasked with a way to ensure proper community standards apply to all media”.
ACL hopes that the Senate Committee will be able thoroughly investigate the wide array of concerning classification issues and that its recommendations will receive bipartisan support – providing a basis for establishing an effective classification system across all media.
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