Finally! Stevens review of classification released, but no-age-based categories!

Small Screen - Thriving in a Digital World

April 5, 2023

Finally! Stevens review of classification released, but no-age-based categories!

Well! After nearly three years, the government has finally released the Stevens Review of classification in Australia. While recommending some fine principles such as the need for the system to be evidence-based, and to be used by all screen platforms (more discussion on that in next issue), it fails in the area of biggest need for a research- and age-based system that gives parents more useful information and more effectively protects children.

The Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, says that the Stevens report will be the subject of later consultations on its many recommendations. She is for now, attempting to tackle loot boxes (but see Editorial) and social casino games, to try to quell the increasing outrage of the community about gambling promotion and its impact on the young (but hasn’t taken on the very serious issues of the advertising and marketing of gambling (but more on that in next issue).

Getting back to Stevens and his recommendations in regard to age-based classification: Section 7 is disappointing, and especially his conclusions at page 65:

As pointed out by submitters, it does seem less than ideal for a classification system which aims to protect children and inform parents to have three categories referencing the age of 15 and none below. It is also true that this makes Australia an outlier among international classification systems, many of which have categories that are age-based or incorporate a category at 12 or 13 years (see Appendix 3 and Appendix 4)…. the research findings overall suggest that while the current categories may be imperfect, there may not be a high level of demand for them to change

and his Recommendation 7.1:

That there be no change to current classification categories at this time, but that work continue on ways of providing better guidance as to suitability of film and computer game content to children at particular stages of development.

Well! CMA hopes he meant more support for our age-based reviews that we’ve been supplying for free for 20 years.

But obviously there’s a lot more work to be done to get parents’ clear call for age-based information (p19), about screen content, heard where it matters.

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