The quest for an Australian R18+ rating for videogames has just taken an interesting turn. The Standing Committee of Attorneys General have agreed to release a status report following the public consultation on the matter, and while the results are overwhelmingly for the introduction of an adult classification, support is coming from strange places.
…such as a group of Australian Catholic Bishops.
The Australian Catholic Bishops (ACB) state that their preferred position is that R 18+ material would not be available in Australia. However, as material is currently available despite its illegality, it would be preferable to introduce an R18+ classification category for computer games so that access to such material, particularly by children, can be restricted.
While you digest that, I’ll explain where it came from.
The Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) held a meeting today to discuss a number of issues – including R18+ games – but as the Northern Territory AG, Delia Lawrie was unable to attend, no outright decisions could be made. They did, however, move to release this ‘preliminary’ status report, explaining that the Attorney General’s Department are still processing submissions as well as identifying and removing duplicates – so we’re not quite there yet, but much closer than we were six months ago.
Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor explains:
“It is not just the weight of numbers that need to be considered. It is also the strength of the arguments on each side. That is why Ministers today agreed that further work needs to be done before a decision can be made.
“This issue is of considerable interest to Australians so the Government is releasing a status report on the consultation to ensure the community is kept well informed of its progress.”
The report shows the initial outcomes of the nearly 60,000 submissions from all across Australia, including 34 “community, church and industry groups”.
Other than the aforementioned Bishops, most of the groups who support an R18+ decision are unsurprising: Electronic Frontiers Australia and AusGamers (a discussion paper I was involved with), PALGN and Everyone Plays, Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, Telstra, Civil Liberties Australia and two gaming clans.
We’re still a little gobsmacked by the bishops’ decision though, and we’re still reading through the rest of the report (which is now available online) – but good on you, ACB. Gamers around the country thank you for your support.