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ALRC publishes draft classifications reform policy guidelines

The Australian Law Reform Commission has revealed draft principles which will guide ongoing classifications reform in Australia, placing a greater emphasis on new media than has historically featured in national classifications policies.

Gamespot reports the ALRC drew on public submissions in response to its May Issues Paper to derive the following eight guidelines:

  • Australians should be able to read, hear, see, and participate in media of their choice
  • Communications and media services available to Australians should broadly reflect community standards, while recognising a diversity of views, cultures and ideas in the community
  • Children should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them
  • The National Classification Scheme needs to provide consumer information in a timely and clear manner, and to provide a responsive and effective means of addressing community concerns, including complaints
  • The National Classification Scheme needs to be responsive to technological change and adaptive to new technologies, platforms and services
  • The National Classification Scheme should not impede competition and innovation, and should not disadvantage Australian media content and service providers in international markets
  • Classification regulation should be kept to the minimum needed to achieve a clear public purpose, and should be clear in its scope and application
  • Classification regulation should be focused upon content rather than platform or means of delivery

If accepted, the draft guidelines will form the basis of policy pertaining to classification going forward.

Australia's classification system has been the subject of much debate in recent years, with several high profile games failing to release or requiring modification due to the country's lack of any rating for games higher than MA15+, despite adult ratings existing for other media such as film and television.

Australia's state attorneys-general have now reached consensus on the introduction of an R18+ ratings for games, but requested that content guidelines be made explicit before implementation, suggesting games classification may see a more complete overhaul in line with the draft guidelines.

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