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Western Australia considers ban on R18+ games

Running 'won't somebody think of the children' argument to justify breaking ranks with federal scheme

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The Australian State of Western Australia (WA) is reviving the country's vexed games classification debate, with a new report suggesting the state government should consider banning games currently carrying an R18+ classification.

The suggestion is contained in a report from the Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People, in the latest in a series of reports on the Sexualisation of Children (cover page here, PDF here).

The report contains 14 recommendations, including longitudinal research of the views of children and young people; parent education; cyber safety strategies; and possible regulation of child beauty pageants.

However, the suggested reviews of classification in WA will probably emerge as the most contentious issues.

Music video classification is questioned on the basis of “concerns about the impact of music videos on children and young people”, while on games classification, the document asks “whether the current regime adequately protects children and young people from harm caused by exposure to adult or inappropriate content”.

Australia's national classification regime gave the green light to the R18+ classification early in 2013, after the Commonwealth secured the agreement of all States to the change.

The new report suggests that the laws WA passed to put the federal classification system into place could be changed, saying “It is possible to amend the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games)Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) and either ban outright the possession, distribution, sale or supply of R18+ computer games in Western Australia. Alternatively, the Act could be amended to make it an offence to sell or supply a R18+ computer game to a minor even if the person selling or supplying the computer game is a parent or guardian of the minor. This would result in R18+ computer games being treated in the same manner as RC films and RC computer games” [“RC” indicating “refused classification”; such content is illegal in Australia – El Reg].

The proposal does not, however, propose criminalising possession of R18+ games in that state.

The report is now under consideration by the WA attorney-general. ®

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