The lack of an adult rating for video games in Australia has long been a sore point for many local gamers, but news from recent weeks has started to bring some positive signs for those wanting the introduction of an R18+ classification for games. Labor ACT Senator Kate Lundy recently voiced her support, while the Federal Coalition has also tentatively stated its desire to see an overhaul of the current system. Now in one of the most positive developments for the issue, the Federal Government has thrown its full weight behind R18+, saying it will advocate for the rating's introduction.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor--who as recently as a few weeks ago maintained no position on the issue--has now stated that the Gillard Labor Government fully supports an adult rating for games in Australia. "We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that," O'Connor said in a press statement released today.
"We believe that this is the right decision for Australian families and the right decision for parents who want to be able to make informed choices about the games their children play. Children and teenagers shouldn't be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games," Mr O'Connor said. "There are dozens of games that are currently classified as MA15+ in Australia, but in other countries these gaming titles are restricted to adults only. If the new category is introduced, it could result in computer games that are currently classified MA15+ being reclassified R18+, providing a new level of protection for children. Games that are currently refused classification and do not meet the standard required for R18+ classification will remain in the refused classification category."
While the public support of the federal government is a major step forward for the R18+ debate, it does not automatically mean the introduction of the new rating. For an adult classification for games to be introduced, all of Australia's state, territory, and federal governments must unanimously agree on its implementation. These ministers are scheduled to meet next Friday, 10 December, at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) gathering in Canberra, where, amongst other issues, they will discuss the R18+ issue.
O'Connor says he will "advocate" for the R18+ rating at the next SCAG meeting. The minister also released the results of a recent government-commissioned Galaxy Survey into the issue, which found that 80 percent of respondents supported the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games in Australia.
The survey--which was conducted in May and surveyed 2,226 people across the nation--found that 91 percent of adults would clearly know that a game classified R18+ would be unsuitable for children. Other findings include that 81 percent of those over the age of 50 and 76 percent of households with children under 18 also supported an R18+ rating. Broken down by state, Western Australians showed 84 percent in favor, Victorians were 82 percent, Tasmania was 82 percent, South Australia 81 percent, Northern Territory 81 percent, Queensland 80 percent, and New South Wales 77 percent, and the ACT was 77 percent.
"This survey also reflects the community feedback that I and many members of the Gillard Government have received from our constituents in recent years," O'Connor said.
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