Draft R18+ computer game guidelines released

The Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor today released draft guidelines that would support the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games.

The draft guidelines have been distributed to State and Territory Classification Ministers to assist in their decision making ahead of a meeting in July to decide whether to create the new rating.

“The Gillard Government wants to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that and will also bring Australia into line with comparable nations,” he said.

“This issue has been on the table for many years, without the necessary progress to make a change.

“We’ve recently seen several states publicly express their support for an adult only rating for games and I’m keen to reach a unanimous decision at the July meeting,” Mr O’Connor said.

Under present legislation, an R18+ classification for computer games can only be introduced with the agreement of all Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers.

“The draft guidelines make it clear that sexually explicit games or games with very frequent, strong and realistic violence will not be allowed in the MA15+ category,” Mr O’Connor said.

The draft guidelines:

  • provide safeguards to restrict the availability of material that is unsuitable for children
  • address the difference between films and computer games, especially in terms of interactivity
  • ensure that the Refused Classification category is retained.

A national telephone survey by Galaxy last year showed that 80% of the 2,226 people contacted said they support the introduction of an R18+ classification for games.

Those results built on public consultation in which 98% of about 57,000 people supported the introduction of an adult classification.

The draft guidelines were first distributed to Classification Ministers at the last Standing Council of Attorneys General meeting in March, and are now being distributed publicly to facilitate further community feedback.

The draft guidelines are available on the Classification website. Public feedback will be accepted online until Wednesday 22 June 2011.

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