Our recommendations re sexualised depictions of children heard: Gov responds to Classifications Review

In 2020, after the discovery of illegal child sexual abuse material being sold in Australian stores – and with an unrestricted age rating -  we called for an overhaul of the Classifications system. 

South Australian Senator Stirling Griff exposed the sale of pornographic anime movies depicting the rape and sexual abuse of children, often in school uniforms, being sold in Australian stores. This material, which constitutes child sexual abuse material, had also been categorised as unrestricted, meaning there was no age restriction of who could view it.

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The Government has now released a report in response to the 2020 Review of Australian classification regulation, citing our submission and responding favourably to one in particular regarding sexualised depictions of children:

Recommendation 9-4: The Films Guidelines should give greater weight to the possibility that sexualised depictions of children are exploitative or offensive rather than that they may be justified by storyline, artistic merit or intended audience. Whether or not depictions are animated or real should not be taken into consideration.

9.2 Sexualisation of women and children

Current arrangements

The National Classification Code provides that a film will be Refused Classification if it describes or depicts in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).

In addition, the Films Guidelines provide that a film will be classified Refused Classification if it (among other things) has the following:

  • The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity;
  • Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18;
  • Gratuitous, exploitative descriptions or depictions of (amongst other matters):
    o Sexual violence;
    o Activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are revolting or abhorrent;
    o Incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or revolting or abhorrent.

Submitter views

Some submitters were concerned about the sexualised representations of women and/or children in the media. Collective Shout argued that provisions relating to ‘sex’ should be broadened to reflect research insights into the impacts on children and young people of such representations. Further views suggested that the Films Guidelines should take into account issues around the sexualisation of children so that when classifying ‘sex’, ‘visual sexual references’ such as words, symbols, acts and practices (e.g. styles of dress) that have sexual overtones should be considered.

Senator Stirling Griff, Centre Alliance Senator for South Australia, argued that the National Classification Scheme does not adequately address Japanese anime films involving sexualisation of children, and that such content is child abuse material under the Criminal Code. In his view, such depictions should automatically be Refused Classification regardless of the context in which they are set. Collective Shout supported the issues raised by Senator Griff.


In community research conducted by the Department, concern was expressed about the perceived sexual objectification and stereotyping of women in media. In light of the concerns outlined above, further consideration should be given as to how classification should deal with the impacts on children of sexual references and stereotyped depictions of females.

The Centre Alliance Senator for South Australia, Stirling Griff, raised concerns about the availability in Australia of certain Japanese comic books and graphic novels (known as manga). Senator Griff notes that some of these publications contain themes of sexual violence, incest and sexualisation of children, and he believes that they fall under the definition of child abuse material in the Criminal Code. The organisation Collective Shout supported Senator Griff’s submission.

Read the full report here

See also:

Senator calls for ban on child sexual abuse manga and anime

Submission to Review of Australian classification regulation

Teen Manga graphic comic novels in libraries feature rape, orgies, bestiality

‘Extreme, degrading, violent’: Graphic teen library books under fire

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  • Caitlin Roper
    published this page in News 2024-05-31 15:29:17 +1000

You can defend their right to childhood

A world free of sexploitation is possible!

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