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Film labels

Films

ALL films that are supplied to the public must be labelled.

Under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, any film, DVD, video or restricted computer game that is supplied, offered for supply or exhibited to the public must carry a label showing its rating or classification. The Act empowers the Labelling Body to issue labels for films, videos, DVDs and computer games it has rated or cross-rated G, PG or M from Australia or Britain. The Labelling Body must send anything that would receive a higher classification to the Classification Office for classification, after which the Classification Office will direct the Labelling Body to issue the appropriate label.

You will find the labels displayed:

  • in cinemas
  • on video cassettes
  • on video and DVD cases
  • as part of film trailers and on advertising material such as posters (where a rating or classification has been assigned)

Film labels are colour coded, much the same as traffic lights:

  • GREEN means anyone can view a film
  • YELLOW means that anyone can view the film, but the film may contain material, such as violence or sexual themes, which may offend or upset some people. Parental guidance is advised before children view the film.
  • RED means that the film is legally restricted and can only be viewed by the audience specified. There are no exceptions to this restriction.

All labels have a rating or classification symbol and usually a descriptive note briefly explaining the nature of content in the film that may be of concern to viewers, for example, whether the film contains violence or sex.

Rating labels

Ratings are assigned to unrestricted films. Ratings are usually applied by the Film and Video Labelling Body. There are different levels of ratings, including:

Image of G label.

G - Unrestricted

Anyone can be shown or sold this. The G rating can be given by the Film and Video Labelling Body and the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Image of PG label.

PG - Unrestricted

Parental guidance may be needed for younger viewers. The PG rating can be given by the Film and Video Labelling Body and the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

 

It is important to remember that not all G or PG level films are made for children and many are aimed at an adult audience.

Image of M label.

M - Unrestricted

More suitable for viewers over 16 years. The M rating can be given by the Film and Video Labelling Body and the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Office classifies all films containing restricted material. The Office can classify according to age or purpose, or restrict a film's availability to a particular audience. The following classifications are common:

Image of R13 label.

R13 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 13 years of age. An R13 classification is given by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Image of R15 label.

R15 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 15 years of age. An R15 classification is given by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Image of R16 label.

R16 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 16 years of age. An R16 classification is given by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Image of R18 label.

R18 - Restricted

It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under 18 years of age. An R18 classification is given by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Image of R label.

R - Restricted

R means that there is a special restriction. Refer to the words on the right of the label for the full conditions.

Image of RP label.

RP16 - Restricted

It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under under 16 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

RP13 - Restricted

It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under under 13 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

A guardian is considered to be a responsible adult (18 years and over), for example, a family member or teacher who can provide guidance.

Other Publications

The law does not require magazines, books and other non-film publications to be labelled before they are released to the public unless they have been submitted and given a restricted classification by the Office.

Publications submitted to the Classification Office (by a distributor, law enforcement agency, or member of the public) can be classified and have conditions imposed on their display, including labelling requirements. Red labels have been available for restricted non-film publications such as magazines since 2005.

Unofficial labels on non-film publications do not mean that a publication has been classified. Distributors sometimes assign their own labels to these publications to warn consumers of content. These labels are not allowed to resemble official classification labels.

If you want to find out whether a particular publication has been classified, contact the Information Unit.

Descriptive Notes

Descriptive notes help consumers to make informed choices about the sort of film they wish to view by alerting them to the presence of content they may not want to see. The notes indicate whether there is content in a film such as offensive language, sex scenes, violence, cruelty or other potentially disturbing material.

For films, DVDs and videos that the Labelling Body can rate or cross-rate G, PG or M, section 10(2) of the Act requires the label to contain, where appropriate, a descriptive note indicating whether the film contains anti-social behaviour, cruelty, violence, crime, horror, sex, offensive language or offensive behaviour.

For films, DVDs, videos and restricted games that the Classification Office classifies, section 36(3)(b) of the Act requires the Classification Office to include in its direction to the Labelling Body to issue a label “the description to be assigned to that film”. The Act does not prescribe the content of a descriptive note that the Classification Office may direct the Labelling Body to issue.

For more information on descriptive notes, contact the Information Unit.

 

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