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what the Act restricts

The central issue that the Office must decide is whether or not a publication is objectionable.

An objectionable publication is defined by section 3 of the Act as one that deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in a way that is likely to be harmful to the public good. Please refer to the legislation for the precise wording of the criteria.

Some publications are specifically prohibited by the Act, including any publication that promotes or supports:

  • The sexual exploitation of children
  • Sexual violence or coercion
  • Torture or extreme violence
  • Bestiality
  • Sexual conduct involving the body of a dead person
  • The use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or sexual conduct

In assessing publications, the Act requires the Office to place particular weight on the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which, publications deal with:

  • Torture
  • Cruelty
  • Violence and sexual violence
  • Sexual conduct with or by children
  • Degrading, dehumanising or demeaning conduct
  • Representations of a particular class of person as inherently inferior by reason of a prohibited ground of discrimination
  • Promotion of criminal acts
  • Exploitation of children's nudity

Are other factors considered aside from the content of a publication?

Yes - as well as content, the Office must consider:

  • The dominant effect of the publication as a whole
  • The impact of the medium in which the publication is presented
  • The character of the publication, including any merit, value, or importance that the publication has in relation to literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational, scientific or other matters.
  • The type of people or age groups that the that the publication is intended or is likely to be made available to
  • The intended purpose of the publication
  • Any other relevant circumstances relating to the intended or likely use of the publication.

Finding out more about censorship decisions

If you want to find out more about how the Office interprets and applies the law, you can access the Office's register of decisions.

The register is available to the public at the Classification Office during office hours. You can also subscribe and receive a monthly list of classification decisions.

If you are concerned about any aspect of censorship law, you can contact the Classification Office's Information Unit or seek legal advice. We also recommend reading the Films Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

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