Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia)

Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia)

Infobox Government agency
agency_name = Office of Film and Literature Classification
formed = 1970 (for films), 2000 (for video games)
jurisdiction = Commonwealth of Australia
superseding = Attorney-General's Department
minister1_name = Robert McClelland
minister1_pfo = Attorney-General
parent_agency = Attorney-General's Department
child1_agency = Classification Board
child2_agency = Classification Review Board
website =
The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory censorship and classification body which provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board which classified films, video games and publications in Australia, and the Classification Review Board which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made.

The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board are established by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth). This Act also contains the National Classification Code.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification has taken 'censorship' out of its title. However, it is able to censor media by refusing classification and making the media illegal for hire, exhibition and importation to Australia. This has attracted particular controversy in the case of computer and video games as the R18+ classification does not exist for video games.


In February 2006 Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced that the policy and administrative functions of the OFLC would become part of the Attorney-General’s Department, and, while the Classification Board and Classification Review Board would continue to make classification decisions, they would be serviced by a secretariat from the Attorney-General’s Department.


Donald McDonald has been named as the new director but yet to be appointed by the Attorney-General’s Department. Critics are concerned the appointment facilitates the Government's ability to control or restrict material, in particular that which incites or instructs terrorism. [ [ Censure as PM's pal turns censor] ]

The current members of the Classification Board:
* Olya Booyar (deputy director)
* Wendy Banfield (senior classifier)
* Marie-Louise Carroll (senior classifier)
* Jeremy Fenton
* Alexandra Greene
* Robert Sanderson
* Rodney Smith
* Lynn Townsend
* Marlon Valbuena

The current members of the Classification Review Board:
* Maureen Shelley (convenor)
* Trevor Griffin (deputy convenor)
* Rob Shilkin
* Kathryn Smith
* Gillian Groom
* Anthony Hetrih


are not in this region.

Film and video game ratings

As of May 24, 2005, the Movie Ratings system has been colour-coded and the presentation updated, following changes in the code. However, the previous classification symbols can still be seen on DVD and video packaging released before the change.

Some films and games (e.g. educational content) may be exempt from classification.

E (Exempt from Classification) - These films are granted permission to be sold without a specific classification. This classification is usually granted to (and not limited to) educational content such as documentaries, concerts, fitness programmes, educational software and non-violent sporting events. Currently there is no predetermined marking for exempt films and computer games [] , although it is advised that films and computer games that are exempt display “This film/computer game is exempt from classification”.

The content varies depending on the show / film. Any film or computer game which is to be rated E must not exceed the PG rating.

G (General) - These films and computer games are for general viewing. However, G does not necessarily designate a children’s film or game as many of these productions contain content that would be of no interest to children.

The content is very mild in impact.

PG (Parental guidance recommended) - These films and computer games contain material that may confuse or upset younger viewers.

The content is mild in impact.

M (Recommended for mature audiences) - These films and computer games contain material that requires a mature perspective. This classification was formerly known as M15+. There is no restriction on access.

The content is moderate in impact.

"Note that the classifications above this point are advisory in nature only--they are not legally binding. By contrast, the classifications below are legally restricted--i.e., it is illegal to sell or exhibit materials so classified to a person younger than the respective age limit."

MA15+ (Not suitable for under 15s) - The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under 15 may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian. This is a legally restricted category.

There are four classification categories for video games: G, PG, M, MA15+. Video games which exceed the impact of what the MA15+ rating allows are refused classification (RC). Games refused classification may be edited and resubmitted by their developers to garner an MA15+ classification.

People under 15 are not permitted to purchase or rent films or video games classified MA15+ unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

The content is strong in impact.

R18+ (Restricted) - People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films. The R18+ rating applies to film onlyndash any video games which rate higher than MA15+ are Refused Classification.

The content is high in impact.

X18+ (Pornographic) - People under 18 may not exhibit, buy or rent films that have been issued this classification.

This rating applies to pornographic content.

Films rated X18+ are currently legally available for purchase in only the ACT and the Northern Territory. However these films may be legally purchased from interstate via mail-order. Enforcement is relaxed and most adult shops carry extensive stock of X18+ material.

Refused Classification (RC)

Films which are very high in impact and/or contain any type of violence in conjunction with real sexual intercourse are Refused Classification by the OFLC. The reasons why a film may be refused classification that:

*Depict, express or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.

*Depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult a minor who is, or who appears to be, under 16 (whether or not engaged in sexual activity).

*Promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence.

Classification is mandatory, and films that are refused classification by the OFLC are banned for sale, hire, public exhibition or importation into Australia, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years jail. It is also illegal to possess content that has been Refused Classification due to illegal content (e.g. child pornography).

Previous video game ratings

"These ratings are still shown on some older video games that are still on sale in Australia"

Literature Ratings

ndash Unrestricted
ndash Unrestrictedndash Mature- Not recommended for readers under 15.
ndash Restricted Category 1ndash Not available to persons under 18 years.
in nature; restricted as above.
Any literature that does NOT fall into any of the above categories is "Refused Classification". It is uncommon for these ratings to appear on books.

ee also

* Censorship in Australia
* Banned films, which includes an extensive list of films banned in Australia.
* Video game controversy Looks at the history of games censorship in Australia
* Internet censorship in Australia
* List of pornography laws by region Australian hardcore pornography laws.
* CERO, the Japanese computer and video game rating system
* ESRB, the United States and Canadian computer and video game rating system
* ELSPA, the former British computer and video game rating system, replaced by the PEGI ratings.
* MPAA film rating system, the United States film rating system
* PEGI, the European computer and video game rating system
* USK, the German computer and video game rating system
* OFLC, the New Zealand media rating system
* IFCO, the Irish censorship rating system.


External links

* [ The Office of Film & Literature Classification Website]

* [ Inside Film Magazine's Phillip Cenere reports on the OFLC International Ratings Conference]

* [] Database of films, games, and books that have had problems with the OFLC

* [ Libertus Australia] a website maintained by Irene Graham, the executive director of EFA.

* [ The Chopping List] Database of films that have had censorship problems in Australia

* [ Regular email updates to OFLC rating changes] Kinesis Interactive Design's OFLC Rating Update service - free service reporting changes and new classifications

* [ The Games Censorship Collection] Games Censorship by the OFLC

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