How censors are chosen in Australia - Revised Post

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Anthony Larme

Aug 14, 2002, 3:50:01 AM8/14/02
*** An expanded version of my Usenet post dated 25 July 2002 ***


I run anti-censorship (by that I mean anti-excessive censorship)
Web sites at:

When applications for 10 positions of OFLC Classification Board
members were called for back in April, I decided to apply and see
where it would lead.

After all, it pays well at around $70K per year and no formal
academic qualifications are required! Perhaps anyone could be
a censor?!

I have a Master of IT degree and six years of experience
communicating with like-minded people over the Internet. Surely, I
thought, I'd have a good chance.

I was not selected for an interview, but I did manage to get some
post-selection feedback by the consultant employed to process the
applications. Listed below is what I found out during a recent
telephone consultation with the consultant (including my personal
opinions/conclusions). In many ways, he was very tight-lipped, *but*
I *did* learn some useful things:

* 900+ applied, 45 were short-listed. 10 will eventually be appointed
to replace 10 existing members whose 3 year appointments end in

* The #1 criterion was "broad involvement in the community".
....he said it meant that the applicants should show that
they meet lots of people in a wide variety of situations -
people that have a variety of opinions. Thus, narrowly
defined interests, eg: people only into computers and/or
the Internet, was not acceptable.
- My Note: Looking at the current composition of the Classification
Board, it seems as if specialists in new technologies are essential
if the decisions of the OFLC are to promote any real respect from
actual computer games players (who are mainly under
30 and highly technically minded unlike almost all the

* His favourite word over the 15 minutes was "broad".
- those 45 people ranged in ages from 20s to 70s!
- those 45 people were from both rural and city areas
and all states.
- those 45 people were roughly 50-50 male-female.
.....he suspects the end result will broadly reflect the
composition of the Australian community! But, mind you,
those 45 have to be whittled down to 10 and those
AG's can be very political! He is aware of concern that
the average age of the classifiers has traditionally been
too old...but he did mention that the Board also had to
take into account Australia's ageing population.
- My Note: It's hard to believe too many (if any) of these applicants
who are under, say, 30 or 35 years of age would have
had the chance to acquire such broad experiences.
Thus, it is very probable that the young in our community
will again have little or no voice in the new Classification
Board membership. This is a great shame as these people
are far more in touch with the needs of computer
games players - computer games being the area in
most need of an urgent revision of the classification
guidelines towards much greater leniency than is currently

* His company is now out of the
picture as those 45 have been handed over to the
Attorney General's Dept. They will do further
interviews and shortlists. Some applicants near the
end of this process will be required to show they
can classify controversial porno products! After all, he
said, porn = about 60% of the OFLC's business!

* Some will be interviewed in Sydney, and others in other
cities, but they will all eventually need to work
in Sydney.

* Eventually, all appointees (10 to be appointed by
10/10/02), will have to be approved by the Federal
Attorney General and the states' AGs. They will be
appointed for 3 years.
- My note: thus, these appointments are
wide open to political manipulation.

* He gave an example of "broad involvement"
in the community by referring to his own
- junior football
- business people
- shop floor manager
- construction industry manager
He would not tell me any information relating to the current
occupations of those who were selected for interviews, nor would
he reveal the leisure interests of these individuals. Thus, it
can be readily concluded that the selection process is
surrounded in a very high degree of secrecy.

* He believes the Australian people are neither
excessively liberal nor excessively conservative......and
that applicants need to set aside their own personal
views and apply the guidelines according to those
broad community standards. I suspect he thinks such
classifiers should choose the middle ground to try to
please most people.

* He maintained that broad involvement = leads to a very
good understanding of what the broad community
expects of classification and thus classifiers can take
those broad opinions into account when they do their job.

* Eventually, all appointees will be named and we
will get to read their biographies. I hope that's
very soon after 10/10/02!!!

On the positive side, he did say that I
clearly had a very good understanding of the
classification system! :-) .... it's just that he
denied I had broad community experience! Too bad
replying to 1000s of emails on censorship over the
years, playing the "Devil's Advocate" on this matter
in many university assignments on censorship, corresponding
with actual censors many times, and even attending
Senate censorship inquiries seemed to have no weight! :-(
One must wonder if those who are chosen have
had that much prior experience with workings
of the censorship process and the opinions held of
it among the community.

So.....that's how our censors for the next three
years have been chosen! Like it or hate it, the process
is not far from completion. Personally, I have serious
problems with this process and do *not* believe that
it serves all the community. It certainly serves those
over 40 and conservatives very well, but, as usual, largely
ignores the wishes of everyone else, especially computer
games players. Despite all the research done on
censorship by the OFLC over the past seven years, Government
policy does not seem to change even when the research
suggests that it should.


Anthony Larme

Phantasmagoria, Heavenly Creatures,
Games Censorship, Point of View.

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