Guide to the Video, DVD and Computer Game Classifications in Australia
Welcome to my guide to the Australian video, DVD and computer game classification system. This guide is to let you as a parent know about the different classification types for videos, DVDs and computer games (hereafter referred to as "entertainment products") and what they mean.
1. Why did you write this guide?
I wrote this guide because nobody else bothered to write one. It's also required by law to display a link to a working classification legend on websites where entertainment products are sold.
2. Who is this guide intended for?
This guide is intended for parents whose children want to buy entertainment products so as to help them make an informed choice regarding what is suitable for their children.
3. There are new classification markings in force. What markings will you refer to?
You are correct. There are new classification markings. These came into force on 26th May 2005. Because of this change, I will be referring to the new markings in this guide.
However, where appropriate, I will highlight any changes that have been made.
4. Who oversees the classification system?
The classification system is monitored by the Australian Classification Board. They have a website where you can search classification decisions and find out more information about the classification system.
The content in entertainment products classified G is suitable for all ages. Not all G rated products are interesting to children.
The content is very mild.
The content in entertainment products classified PG may be upsetting to young children without parental guidance.
The content is mild.
NOTE: For computer games classified G8+ before 26th May 2005, the G8+ classification is the same as PG.
Entertainment products classified M contain content that requires a mature perspective. M rated products are not recommended for people under the age of 15.
The content is moderate in impact.
NOTE: For entertainment products classified M15+ before 26th May 2005, the M15+ classification is the same as M.
The classifications below are legally restricted.
Entertainment products classified MA15+ contain material that is very likely to disturb or offend people under 15. As such, this is a restricted category.
The content is strong.
The R18+ category is restricted to people 18 and over. Some R18+ material may offend certain sections of the adult community. As of January 1, 2013, this classification can also be applied to video games.
High impact content.
Material considered too strong for the maximum classification of its type is classified RC. RC stands for "Refused Classification".
Entertainment products classified RC cannot be sold or imported in Australia, therby giving it the alternate meaning "Banned".
All entertainment products classified PG to R18+ (and some G rated products) carry special statements called consumer advice. The consumer advice is printed in the white space next to the classification symbol. For a demonstration, please see the example below.
Other examples of consumer advice include:
- Mild themes
- Strong sex scenes
- Moderate sexual references
- Brief incidental nudity
The consumer advice is specific to each entertainment product. Therefore you should use the classification and the consumer advice together to make an informed choice regarding what to buy for your children.
The Classification System and Imports
Be very careful when buying entertainment products from overseas. They may be unclassified by the Classification Board or banned from sale. Such products cannot be imported into Australia.
If you try to import an unclassified or banned product, it may be seized by customs as "objectionable goods".
To check wether a product has been classified by the Classification Board, go to their website at classification.gov.au. Once there, just type the title of the product you're after into the search box at the top middle of the page.
Use of the classification system is of utmost importance to any family with children. Here are the two main points.
- Use the classification and the consumer advice together to make informed choices on what you're buying for your children.
- Guard yourself against buying an unclassified or banned product from overseas by searching the classification database at the Classification Board's website. You don't want any letters from Customs do you?
Good luck and happy bidding to all!