Danny Yee >> Internet Censorship in Australia

The Office of Film and Literature Classification

Whatever the OFLC may claim, the censorship system they are part of is not just about "protecting children". It is about preventing adults watching Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo or reading Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book. These and many other books, films, and computer games are banned in Australia. The Rabelais case and the banning of Baise-Moi are examples of what is wrong with the system. (Helen Vnuk's book Snatched: Sex and Censorship in Australia is a good overview.)

And lo and behold! Now (September 2000) they've banned a huge swathe of non-violent erotica because it depicts "offensive fetishes" (like spanking). The OFLC guidelines get tighter and tighter... Mapplethorpe's Pictures is now (March 2001) Restricted Category 1, following the usual beat up. (Note that this makes it illegal to sell Pictures in Queensland.)

And when it comes to protecting children, the OFLC tries to enforce the morals of a minority on everyone else's children. Witness the R-rating of Passion and the MA-rating of Southpark. I can see no reason why I would have been unable to cope with Passion at 15 or 17, and my parents certainly wouldn't have objected to me seeing it.


You may not feel up to civil disobedience, but you can still complain about classification decisions. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) uses the complaints it receives as justification for banning or more stringently classifying items. Their 1996-97 report reveals that they received 325 complaints, of which only 1 (one!) was opposed to censorship.

I encourage everyone concerned about censorship to complain to the OFLC when they ban films or books, or classify material over-censoriously.

The OFLC Website provides advice on how to make a complaint about a classification decision.

Emailed complaints may not be assigned as much weight as printed ones. Individual complaints will be given more weight than multiple copies of one complaint submitted as part of write-in campaigns. (Apparently the Catholic Church is good at organising these, mobilising 20 000+ complaints about films such as Dogma.)

Other Sites

Irene Graham's The State of Censorship is the most extensive resource on Australia's censorship system.

Watch on Censorship focuses on film censorship, especially of "art" movies, while Refused Classification tracks cuts and bans.

Anthony Larme looks at computer game censorship and the Campaign for the Introduction of an R Category for Computer Games in Australia is running a petition.

Internet Censorship in Australia << Danny Yee