The Commonwealth of Australia is an Oceanian country with a Christian Protestant majority. It is part of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Unlike the United States, United Kingdom or even New Zealand; Australia's law on censorship of all media is heavily regulated mostly on grounds of political values that are appropriate in Australia.

Although Australia is considered to have both freedom of speech and a free and independent media, certain subject-matter is subject to various forms of government censorship, including matters of national security, judicial non-publication or suppression orders, defamation law, the federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), film and literature (including video game) classification, and advertising restrictions.

The website Refused Classification is dedicated to media censorship in Australia, cataloguing all of the media that was censored or banned in Australia.

General censorship[]

The Australian censorship system was fairly restrictive right into the 1980s. These days the mainstream media follow the British model: Australian censors are more concerned over violence than sex. Quite explicit material is broadcast with relatively few interest or comment, particularly non-pornographic material.

However, media such as internet and video games, are treated quite differently. There wasn't a R 18+ classification for video games unitl 2013 and even then games struggled to aquire, which means that games intended for adult audiences suffer significant censorship.

In general, Australia is more lenient towards violence and coarse language, but harsher on sex and nudity.

  • Australia tends to be sensitive to excessive use of drugs. It still bans computer games which contain drug use related to "incentives and rewards".
  • Any material non-compliant with Australian law are automatically refused classification. Materials are generally refused classification because of explicit violent or sexual content.
  • Pornography (X 18+) released in Australia must be compliant with federal and state laws because sales of adult material is prohibited in all states, making it legal only in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory, which is Canberra) and the Northern Territory (except regional Aboriginal communities which was imposed under the Northern Territory National Emergency Response in 2007 by the Howard government).
    • It was rumoured that the Australian government banned adult publications which featured women with small breasts, which according to Senators Barnaby Joysce and Guy Barnett, they appear to be underaged, and thus, it would normalise paedophilia[1]. In a nutshell, they classify pornographic videos with otherwise adult women with smaller breasts as child pornography. Said decision was met with backlash from netizens due to the laws being overzealous and purposely poorly-written on the subject.

Book censorship[]

Book censorship has existed in Australia since the 19th century.

In the 1960s censorship laws came under pressure when "three intrepid Sydney activists," Alexander William Sheppard, Leon Fink and Ken Buckley, locally published D. H. Lawrence's The Trial of Lady Chatterley (Sydney, 1965), which was at that time banned in Australia, and Sheppard then published James Baldwin's Another Country (1966). In 1970 Penguin Books had three copies of Portnoy's Complaint smuggled into Australia and then secretly printed 75,000 copies of the book.

In the early 1970s Don Chipp, the federal Minister of Customs and Excise, largely ended censorship of printed material in the country, with Australians being able to read such books as Portnoy’s Complaint and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

In Australia, books containing erotica, those concerning illegal drugs, and those discussing end-of-life issues (particularly those discussing or condoning assisted suicide) are usually under attack.

Banned books[]

  • The Decameron - this story collection written by Giovanni Boccaccio was banned from 927 to 1936 and later, from 1938 to 1973.
  • The 120 Days of Sodom - this novel written by the Marquis of Sade was banned by the Australian Government in 1957 for obscenity. It is unknown the year when this novel was unbanned.
  • Droll Stories - these short stories written by Honoré de Balzac were banned for obscenity from 1901 to 1923 and 1928 to circa 1973.
  • The Straits Impregnable - this fictionalised autobiography of Gallipoli veteran and humanitarian worker Sydney Loch had its first edition published as a novel and its second edition banned by the military censor in Australia under regulations of the War Precautions Act 1914. Its unbanning year is unknown.
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover - this novel was banned from 1929 to 1965.
  • Rowena Goes Too Far - this novel by H.C. Asterley was banned in Australia because of customs belief that it "lacked sufficient claim to the literary to excuse the obscenity". The years of the ban and the unbanning are unknown.
  • Brave New World - this novel by Aldous Huxley was banned between 1932 and 1937.
  • Forever Amber - this novel by Kathleen Windsor was banned by Australia in 1945 as "a collection of bawdiness, amounting to sex obsession". The year of the overturning of the ban is still unknown.
  • Borstal Boy - this autobiographical novel by Brendan Behan was banned shortly after its ban in Ireland in 1958. It is not known when it was unbanned in Australia.
  • Another Country - this novel by James Baldwin was banned in Australia by the Commonwealth Customs Department in February 1963. The Literature Censorship Board described it as "continually smeared with indecent, offensive and dirty epithets and allusions," but recommended that the book remain available to "the serious minded student or reader." The ban was lifted in May 1966.
  • Ecstasy and Me - this autobiography written by Hedy Lamarr was banned in Australia from 1967 until 1973.
  • The World Is Full of Married Men - this novel written by Jackie Collins was banned in Australia in 1968.
  • The Stud - this Jackie Collins novel was banned in Australia in 1969.
  • The Anarchist Cookbook - this 1971 instructional book by William Powell was banned in Australia in year unknown.
  • How to Make Disposable Silencers - this 1984 instructional book by Desert and Eliezer Flores is an example of a class of books banned in Australia that "promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence".
  • American Psycho - this novel written by Bret Easton Ellis had its sale and purchase banned in the Australian State of Queensland. Now available in public libraries and for sale to people 18 years and older. Sale restricted to persons at least 18 years old in the other Australian states.
  • A Sneaking Suspicion - this religious book by John Dickson was banned by the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities from state schools 6 May 2015, on the basis of a "potential risk to students in the delivery of this material, if not taught sensitively and in an age appropriate manner." The ban was lifted 18 May 2015.
  • The Peaceful Pill Handbook - this instructional manual on euthanasia, while originally rated by the OFLC as X 18+ and approved for publication, was later banned on appeal from Australian Attorney General Phillip Ruddock and Right to Life NSW.
  • You: An Introduction - this religious text by Michael Jensen was banned by the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities from state schools 6 May 2015, on the basis of a "potential risk to students in the delivery of this material, if not taught sensitively and in an age appropriate manner." The ban was lifted 18 May 2015.
  • No Game, No Life - this visual novel by Yuu Kamiya had its volumes 1, 2 and 9 banned in Australia due to depiction which "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."

Internet censorship[]

MAR2020 Telstra Censorship Screenshot

Page presented by Telstra when a censored page is requested.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to enforce content restrictions on Internet content hosted within Australia, and maintain a blocklist of overseas websites which is then provided for use in filtering software. The restrictions focus primarily on child pornography, sexual violence and other illegal activities, compiled as a result of a consumer complaints process.

  • Satirical website Encyclopedia Dramatica's page on Aboriginals is blocked on Australian search engines to comply with the country's anti-racial vilification law.
  • Australian Labor Party senator Stephen Conroy, since he was out of power, took cues from China and tried to push through a law that mandated ISPs block certain blacklisted pages entirely. The Liberal Party had a similar plan when they were in government.
  • In the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, which happened in the neighbouring New Zealand, internet provider Telstra banned access to 4chan, 8chan, Voat, and Liveleak, as the websites still held footage of the live terrorist attack.

Movie censorship[]

In Australia, films are rated by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which is essentially Australia's version of the MPA, but unlike its American counterpart, it is a governmental organisation. By law, the OFLC must classify a film before it can be sold or exhibited in any form in Australia, although it is legal to own most material that has been refused classification. Since 2006, after the dissolution of the OFLC, its parent organisation, the Australian Classification Board (ACB) fulfilled the former's role in film classification.

  • Many explicit films such as Baise-moi, In a Glass Cage, Ken Park, La Blue Girl, Nekromantik, A Serbian Film, and the uncut version of Caligula were banned by the OFLC.
  • The OFLC came under fire due to its crackdown on LGBT-themed films, including Mysterious Skin, whose ban sparked protests from LGBT activists.
  • Gory films such as Cannibal Holocaust, Savage Man, Savage Beast and Faces of Death had at least their initial releases banned, with only the extended releases being rated.

Instances of movie censorship[]

  • Between 1911 and the 1940s, any movie about the bushrangers (who were outlaws most active in the 19th century, and remembered in Australian folklore for their acts of robbery and violent crime, including murder.), such as The Story of the Kelly Gang and When The Kellys Rode, were banned in Australia, as the Australian censors were concerned about the effects of such films on female audiences. However, these films were later unbanned.
  • Between 1928 and 1941, during Creswell O'Reilly's tenure as Chief Censor, many films such as Dawn (1928), Klondike Annie, Compulsory Hands, Applause (1929), Cape Forlorn, All Quiet on the Western Front and Gang Bullets, to cite a few, were banned. Currently, said films were unbanned, though with varying classification ratings.
  • The Blonde Captive - this controversial Columbia Pictures film was banned due to its racial themes, as the film, according to the Australian government, was deemed to be prejudicial towards Aboriginal Australians as well as the film claims which state that some Aboriginal Australians in the outback were actually Neanderthals were also deemed by the Australian government as harmful to ongoing anthropological research. After its 1947 screening, the film went missing, being considered then a lost film.
  • During the 1960s, many films such as The Miracle (L' Amore), Viridiana, La Dolce Vita, Fellini Satyricon, The Silence, Blowup and Zabriskie Point, were banned under R. J. Prowse's tenure as Chief Censor. The cited films were unbanned at some point, as all films (except The Silence, which is included on Ingmar Bergman's Faith Trilogy DVD classified R 18+), are now classified M.
  • Pink Flamingos - this John Waters film was first banned in 1976 due to its offensive content (exploitation, sexual violence, incest, adult themes and animal cruelty), to be later re-classified R 18+, with four minutes of footage removed. The movie was banned again in 1981, and another three times in 1983. A year later, it was given an X 18+ (banned in all states, although legally for sale in the two Territories), uncut. Soon after, attitudes toward sexual violence became stricter in the X 18+ category and it would not be possible to earn said classification again. The movie was re-banned in 1997, this version being the "25th Anniversary Edition" which added extra scenes. The distributor this time cut only two minutes of footage to receive a R 18+.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - This horror film was banned due to violence. However the ban was lifted when the film passed uncut in 1984, being classified R 18+.
  • Vase de Noces - this Belgian arthouse film was banned for obscenity and graphic depictions of bestiality and other content considered offensive and abhorrent by the Australian Classification Board in 1975, under pressure from Western Australian government, which had the film banned from being played at the Perth International Film Festival. However, the authorities lifted the ban temporarily and the film was allowed to be screened. In 1976, the government decided to re-ban the film. A third attempt to appeal the film's ban status was made in 1977, but it was rejected by the government once again, and the film is still banned to this day. A successful attempt to allow this film is unlikely to occur, given that it violates Australian obscenity laws.
  • Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom - this horror-art film was banned for offensive content (exploitation, sexual violence) at the time of release, which was then reversed in 1993; the film was re-classified R 18+ for a theatrical release. However, in 1998, the Australian Classification Board re-banned it for "offensive cruelty with high impact". It was then approved for DVD and Blu-ray (because its extra content gives it context) release in 2010, uncut. It can only be shown in cinemas provided that the extra material is screened with it.
  • The Great Blondino - This movie was censored in Australia by the customs department. A scene of Blondino stroking a rhinoceros horn required review by the chief censor, who took issue with a separate scene in which a girl uses profane language.
  • In the Realm of the Senses - this Japanese erotic film was banned in 1977 for its sexual and violent content. It was initially played uncut at Sydney and Melbourne film festivals in that year, but was refused uncut for wide release. It was passed cut later that same year. The uncut version was banned again in 1981, and several VHS releases in the 1980s were cut. It was finally passed uncut in October 2000 and released in August 2001 after decision regarding Romance. In 2008, it was re-released by Umbrella, using the slightly censored UK DVD version, but has since been allowed uncut, with a R 18+ classification.
  • Faces of Death - this horror film series was banned in Australia due to violence and scenes of actual death. The first film was refused in December 1980, and the sequel, Faces of Death II, was refused in 1983. The original was refused again in 1988 after the AFP confiscated it and handed it to the ACB. Umbrella Entertainment attempted to release a box set of the first four films in 2008, but only the first film was passed (uncut) with an R 18+. The third and fourth films were refused classification for the first time in December 2007. and, along with the second, are still banned since then.
  • Cannibal Apocalypse - this film was banned in Australia in 1981 for frequent high impact gore content. In November 1981, Palace Home Video released the film on VHS, with some major cuts to the film's more violent scenes. In 2017, Umbrella Entertainment released the film on DVD uncut. The film was allowed uncut with a R 18+ rating.
  • Cannibal Holocaust - this horror film was banned in 1984 for explicit gore and gruesome scenes. However, in 2005, the ban was overturned and the film was shown in public in a cut version classified R 18+. A year later, the film was allowed uncut.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - This film was banned in 1986 for explicit violent content, There is a confirmation from 1992 of Customs forwarding an uncut print of said film to the Australian Classification Board, who later released it to the person for whom delivery of the film was meant. The Board did not give it a rating, so "at the time it was unclear what this meant for the film's banned status". In 2006, the film was officially unbanned and classified R 18+.
  • The Last House on the Left (Krug and Company) - this film was banned for sexual violence in 1987 after it was submitted to the ACB for classification. Several imported copies of the film were confiscated in the 1990s. In 2004, it was submitted for DVD release and was passed with an R+18 for "strong sexual violence, medium level violence".
  • Bad Taste - this film directed by Peter Jackson was originally released in a 88-seconds cut. However, it was banned in 1990 in the state of Queensland after a three-week run in cinemas, which caused the Queensland Film Review Board to be fired and dissolved. In 2005, the uncut version was available on DVD.
  • Buio Omega (Beyond the Darkness) - this Italian horror film was banned due to its high-level violence and necrophiliac content in 1992 after being seized by Customs and forwarded to the ACB. It was subsequently refused classification. However, in 2014, the ban was lifted and a year later, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time by Umbrella Entertainment.
  • The Beast in Heat (SS Hell Camp) - this Italian exploitation film was also seized by Customs in 1992 and forwarded to the Censor Board, which than banned it for excessive sexual violence, subsequently refusing classification to it. This film is still banned in Australia.
  • Urotsukidoji: The Legend of the Overfiend - The parts one and two of the chapter four of this anime were the first animated features to be banned in Australia, as these featured graphic sexual and violent content. However, the film was allowed in a censored version, by its British distributor, classified R 18+.
  • Tokyo Decadence - this film was banned banned due its the cruel and graphic nature[2].
  • In 1995, twelve films screened at that year's Tasmania's Queer Film Festival, such as Spikes and Heels, Coming Out Under Fire, What a Lesbian Looks Like, Mad About the Boy, 21st Century Nuns and Sex Fish were banned in Tasmania and unrated by the ACB, due to violations against the state of Tasmania's Criminal Code Act (1924). Under said law, at the time, Tasmania was the only Australian state in which homosexuality (in this case "gay male sexual activity") was illegal. Said festival since then has moved to Melbourne. As the law changed soon after this incident, the films would presumably be allowed in Tasmania and rated by the ACB today (whether X 18+ or not).
  • Freeway - when Columbia TriStar Home Video submitted a VHS of the original uncut 104-minute version of the film to the ACB (which was then known as the OFLC), it was refused classification due to explicit suggestions of sexual activity. The ACB had already approved an R 18+ censored version, lasting 102 minutes, which removed two scenes: one in which Kiefer Sutherland asks Reese Witherspoon for anal sex on top of his excessive use of obscenities, and another in which a deceased 91-year-old grandmother is shown with a vase covering her private parts and her legs spread apart.
  • I Spit on Your Grave - this horror film started in 1984 with an R 18+ rating and passed a banning request in 1987, but was banned in 1997 due to the "rising censorship of the late '90s". The reason of the ban was that the film featured sexual violence. In 2004, the ACB decided to lift the ban, classifying the film as R 18+.
  • Romance - this film was initially refused classification in 1999 due to its explicit depictions of actual sexual activity and sexual violence, but the ACB overturned the ban on appeal a year later. Said film became a watershed in allowing actual sexual activity in the R 18+ classification.
  • Baise-moi - this French thriller film was initially allowed with an R 18+ rating, it was banned by the ACB for featuring explicit depiction of sexual violence (effect enhanced by actual sex). The film was banned again in 2013. On 23 August 2013, the film aired on the pay-per-view SBS World Movies channel in a cut form and an R 18+ classification, due to the classification guidelines being different for television. The film itself, however, is still banned in Australia.
  • Ken Park - This film was refused classification by the ACB and banned in Australia as of 6 June 2003 due to its depiction of sexual manners "in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults". Copies of the film were distributed via the internet and illegal public screenings were held in Sydney and other capital cities. None were charged with offences in relation to this widely publicised illegal activity, presumably because that would have caused even greater public criticism of censorship laws. While the film is still banned, it has not been distributed worldwide.
  • A Serbian Film - On 26 November 2010, the uncut version and a 97-minute version of this film were refused classification by the ABC on 26 November 2010. It was awarded an R 18+ in a 96-minute (PAL running time) censored version, but on review in 2011, it was also refused classification, banning all public showings and DVD sales, as the film featured high-level sexual violence and graphic violence. On 26 February 2019, a USB drive which contained the uncut version of the film was seized by the New South Wales Police Force, submitting it to the ACB, which effectively renewed the ban, which is still in effect.
  • The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) - this horror film originally passed with a R 18+ rating. However, after its release (screening in capital cities and at festivals, even into the week prior to its ban on review), it was banned due to "offensive" depictions of violence and high impact cruelty. On news of the banning, the applicant, Monster Pictures, announced its plans to submit an edited version for classification. On 14 December 2011, Monster Pictures announced that a "slightly trimmed" version (running 30 seconds) was passed with an R 18+ classification.
  • Father's Day - this action horror film was initially allowed to screen on 24 March 2012 as part of the 6th Night of Horror Film Festival, it was refused classification when submitted for home video release in October 2012 due to its sexually violent content, specifically, shots of forced anal and oral sex, as well as mutilation of a penis. A second version with 31 seconds cut was refused as well; later a version with 40 seconds cut was classified R 18+ on 27 February 2013.
  • Found. - this horror film was initially premiered at Sydney's Dendy Newtown cinema on 16 April 2013. A DVD release was banned in 2013 due to prolonged and detailed depictions of sexualised violence. The film later passed with an R 18+ classification a few months later after the distributor cut two minutes of footage.
  • Children's Island - this drama film had a copy seized by the AFP, which was later handed to the ACB, who subsequently refused classification on 27 February 2014, more than three decades after its release, due to child pornography concerns.
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - the uncut version of this film was initially banned in Australia for its graphic violence. However, the ban was lifted by the end of the 2000s.
  • L'immoralità[3] - this italian drama film was banned in 2014 due to an application filed by the NSW Police, stating that the film featured sexual content 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.

Television censorship[]


The Australian Communications and Media Authority enforces regulations on television programming to promote programming which reflects Australian identity and cultural diversity. Commercial networks must adhere to content quotas of Australian programming, in the categories of Australian content quotas, children's content quotas, commercial broadcasting quotas, community broadcasting quotas, public broadcasting quotas and subscription television quotas. Regulations are based on the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Many Australian television networks (and websites) use a blanket disclaimer stating "Aboriginal population and its Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this show may contain names, voices and images of dead people", or a variant of it. This is because due to Aboriginal Australians having a taboo on mentioning the name of deceased people, although said taboo's application is limited among Aboriginal communities and time limits on the mourning period.

The Australian Federal Government updated its programming requirements with an overhaul of local content quotas in late 2020.

Instances of television censorship[]

  • All in the Family - the two-part episode "Edith's 50th Birthday" was banned in Australia after complaints from viewers about the attempted rape scene in which a man tries to assault Edith while he posed as a police detective, leaving her traumatised.
  • Blue Murder - this crime drama miniseries was banned in the state of New South Wales between 1995 and 2001, courtesy to an injunction brought during the Arthur "Neddy" Smith's appeal against his life sentence.
  • Ojamajo DoReMi - this shojo anime banned for after the end of the second season for "sexual themes" present in later episodes.
  • Parallel Paradise - this anime was banned for being accused of being child pornography.
  • Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos - this show was taken off air from Nine Network (at the late Kerry Packer's - the network owner - behest, who phoned the network operators, angrily shouting "Get that shit out of air!" to them) during the airing of its first and only episode due to its sexual contents and sexual situations.
  • Underbelly - this Nine Network show about the 1995-2010 Melbourne gangland killings, was banned by judicial order in the state of Victoria (including its capital, Melbourne) and from the internet, due to one of the show's real-life subjects being was involved in an ongoing criminal trial, where there were serious concerns on jury tampering. After the conviction, the court forced Nine Network to heavily edit the episodes.
  • Peppa Pig - The episodes "Mister Skinnylegs" and "Spider's Web" are banned due to their plot about befriending spiders, which is discouraged in Australia because the country is home to the world's most venomous spiders (such as the funnel-web spider and the redback spider). The episode aired accidentally online and on the Australian feed of Nick Jr. (which also airs in the neighbouring New Zealand and in several Asian countries) until a girl whose young brother was watching the channel wrote a letter out of concern that people around her brother's age might copy what they saw in the show[4].
  • At the height of the 2020 George Floyd protests and of the resurgement of the BLM movement, several shows were pulled out of the Australian Netflix catalog due to their depictions of brownface and whitewashed roles. Among these, the following:
    • We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year - this mockumentary was pulled due to the character Ricky Wong being played by a white actor wearing yellowface.
    • Angry Boys - this sitcom was pulled from the Australian Netflix due to the characters S.mouse, a black character, and Jen Okazaki, an Asian character, both played by Chris Lilley being offensive, as well being portrayed by a white actor wearing blackface and yellow face, respectively.
    • Summer Heights High - this sitcom was pulled from streaming due the character of Jonah Takalua, a Pacific Islander 13 year-old bully portrayed by Chris Lilley, a white actor wearing brownface. Its spinoff series, Jonah from Tonga was withdrawn for the same reason.
  • Thomas & Friends - The episode "Henry Spots Trouble", whose plot is about Henry having a fear of chickenpox, was taken out from ABC reruns after airing twice due to complaints from parents to the network that the episode was promoting an anti-vaccination campaign.
  • Ishuzoku Reviewers - this fantasy sex comedy anime had its streaming in Australia delayed due to "adjusting [its] sourcing of materials". This anime, is rated MA 15+ in censored, while the uncensored DVD release of the series, submitted by Madman Entertainment, was refused classification after the ACB found sex scenes in episodes 3 and 9 between the halflings Kanchal and Piltia. The Board believed these scenes "depict a person who appears to be under the age of 18 years in a manner likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult."
  • Adventure Time:
    • "His Hero" - this was the first episode of Adventure Time to be banned in Australia due to "promoting violence".
    • "Jake vs. Me-Mow" - this episode was banned due to its plot revolving around an assassination attempt
    • "Ghost Princess" - this episode was skipped due to violent themes, as well for featuring two on-screen deaths.
    • "Love Games" - this episode was not aired in Australia due to sexual themes, with the plot revolving around Finn and Slime Princess having to prove their love so that Slime Princess would be the heir to the crown and not her sister.
  • Regular Show:
    • "Muscle Woman" - this episode was banned due to sexual themes, even though a censored version aired in Australia.
    • "Jinx" - banned for its references to the "Bloody Mary" urban legend and for being too violent (including visible cuts on Ybgir's victims).
    • "Go Viral" - this is a case where an episode was banned for no reason. The episode, although had a lot of imitable behaviour, it was tame by the show's standards.
    • "Grave Sights" - banned due to the large amount of zombie violence, with zombies being decapitated and impaled.
    • "My Mom" - initially banned due to concerns that it would encourage bullying, but it was later aired intact.
  • The Looney Tunes Show - The episode "Muh-Muh-Muh-Murder" was banned in Australia because its A-plot revolves around Daffy thinking that Porky wants to kill him (with Porky getting horribly injured as Daffy tries to escape from his house).
  • Danger 5 - The season 2 of this show, intended to be broadcast in October 2014, was initially delayed indefinitely, to then be pushed back to 4 January 2015. SBS was worried that a comedy show with beheadings during the ISIS crisis (characterised by infamous terrorist beheadings) would be too offensive.
  • Doctor Who - the Series 2 serial "School Reunion", which featured a school being blown up in order to destroy the aliens inside it, was taken off the air in Australia due a similar event involving a student rebel detonating a bomb in a classroom killing 5 students happened. It did not help that the rebel was called "Ken" due to the line "Kenny blew up the school! It was Kenny!", whereupon the happy students cheered. Several Episodes of the Original Series, "The Smugglers", "The Underwater Menace", "The Macra Terror" and "Fury from the Deep", had Several scenes removed for their broadcast in the 1960s due their violent content. This was done by physically cutting them out of the film reels. Ironically, after the BBC's tapes of the Episodes were wiped and other copies either junked or lost, the omitted scenes are the only ones to still exist of these Episodes.
  • Round the Twist - this show was almost banned in Australia during is premier due to it featuring anything that was deemed "harmful to minors" such as death, nudity (including reference to genitals), underwear, incest (under influence), mild sexual references (and in one episode, "Lucky Lips", which is centered on a magic tube of lipstick that attracts females, not only human females) and as well the typical gross-out humour such as body odor, toilet humour (about urination and defecation) and vomit. Because of such subject matter it had trouble being exported to the UK.
  • Violence Jack Evil Town - this OVA was banned due to excessive violence, which led to Manga Entertainment to ban the entire Violence Jack series.

Video game censorship[]


Originally there was no R 18+ rating for video games (back then, the R 18+ classification rating could be given to films), so any game which was too much for the MA 15+ rating would either be refused classification or just be heavily edited. As with film, refusal of classification was tantamount to a ban, due to an appropriate classification not being available for the medium.. The R 18+ rating would be introduced in 2013, which allowed Australian releases of the Mortal Kombat reboot and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge; however, the ratings board can still refuse a classification. Most gamers recur by importing these games (such as Grand Theft Auto V) from the neighbouring New Zealand in order to play them.

In July and August 2011, all Australian state Attorney-Generals agreed to instate an R 18+ rating for video games, which would be available by the end of 2011. Many games previously refused classification would now fit into the R 18+ rating and, if the publisher chose to pay the reclassification fee, would theoretically be able to sell their game in Australia. The date was later changed to allow the rating to be introduced at the beginning of 2013.

With the R 18+ rating in place, it is expected fewer video games will be given the Refused Classification rating. Games may still be Refused Classification if deemed to contain material unsuitable for R 18+ classification, such as depictions of sexual violence or the promotion of illegal drug use, as well as drug use that is related to incentives and rewards. More specifically, games which may be Refused Classification include:

  • Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.
  • Depiction of rape.
  • 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 years.
  • Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
    • (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
    • (ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have an extremely high impact;
    • (iii) sexual violence
  • Depictions of practices such as bestiality
  • Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
    • (i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices that are offensive or abhorrent;
    • (ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies that are offensive or abhorrent

Classification is compulsory, and games refused classification by the ACB are banned for sale, hire or public exhibition, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years in jail. It is, however, legal to possess RC classified games (except in Western Australia and prescribed areas of the Northern Territory).

Material that is refused classification is put on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service list of prohibited items. Any copies of such games found at the border will be seized, and the recipient, depending on the number of copies being imported, may receive up to A$110,000 in fines.

Due to the licensing of the International Age Rating Coalition software for developers to rate their own game, several hundred games have been banned from various app stores as of 2015.

Instances of video game censorship[]

  • Fallout 3 - This game was banned due to its depiction of a static image of morphine as a buff-giving item, due to complaints from Australian "moral crusader" groups. After the image removed through a worldwide edit, the game was released as a 15+. Any mention of morphine in game was changed to Med-X, which was however still portrayed as "an extremely potent but dangerously addictive painkiller" and the syringes are unchanged.
  • Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude - unrated due to its sexually suggestive content, which concerns the protagonist Larry Laffer wanting to get laid with college co-eds. However, it is still available for purchase on Steam as of December 2019, albeit without a classification.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 - The original release of this game was banned due to excessive violence. A version similar to the German release - which was edited for a even stricter market - which Valve submitted to the classification, was passed with a MA 15+ rating. The numerous instances of censorship made it look like an entirely different game. Valve also released the original version for reconsideration, but it was refused classification. After the introduction of the R 18+ rating, the original uncensored version would be given this rating.
  • Manhunt - originally rated MA 15+, later banned due to violent content, themes and behaviour, after an appeal from Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.
  • The Getaway (2002) - originally released uncut with an MA 15+, it was later resubmitted and banned due to a scene of detailed torture. A censored version omitting this scene was later released with an MA 15+ rating.
  • DreamWeb - was originally released unrated. Later banned because of a scene of sexual violence. A censored edition was later released with an M rating.
  • Postal - banned due to violent content, themes and behaviour.
  • Postal 2 - banned due to high impact themes involving abhorrent and revolting content. In 2012, the game became available for purchase on Steam without classification and has yet to be taken down as of August 2021.
  • Alien vs Predator - originally, this game was banned. However, after appeal, this game was re-rated MA 15+ and left uncut.
  • Singles: Flirt Up Your Life - banned due to high sexual content which would have been too much for the MA 15+ rating.
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming - this game had the gory scenes toned down in order to get past the OLFC.
  • BMX XXX was banned because of of high impact sexual references. A censored version was later released with an MA 15+ rating.
  • Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure - this game was banned due to its depiction of graffiti artists.
  • 50 Cent: Bulletproof - banned because of high impact bloody violence. After an appeal it was Refused Classification once again on 24 November 2005. A censored version was later released with an MA 15+ rating.
  • NecrovisioN was banned because of high impact bloody violence. A censored version was later released with an M rating.
  • Dark Sector was banned because of high impact bloody violence. A censored version was later released with an MA 15+ rating.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback was banned due to high impact bloody violence. A censored version was later released with an MA 15+ rating, with the ability to mutilate enemies disabled.
  • Blitz: The League - banned due to its depiction of anabolic steroids as stamina booster.
  • Narc - banned because of drug use related to incentive and rewards.

The following examples failed to make the cut even after the R 18+ rating was introduced, proving that even R 18+ has standards.

  • WANDER LUST, Vida X, Sorority House, Strip Blackjack and Teresa: House Guest were banned because of sexual activity and/or nudity related to incentives and rewards. The Victorian Police were the applicants for the Refused Classification Rating.
  • Phantasmagoria - Banned because of a scene involving sexual violence. In 2016, the game became available for purchase on Steam without classification and has yet to be taken down as of December 2019.
  • Porntris was banned because of nudity related to incentives and rewards. The Victorian Police were the applicants for the Refused Classification Rating.
  • Voyeur was originally released unrated. Later banned because of high impact sexual themes involving incest.
  • Enzai: Falsely Accused was banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority because of sexual violence involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
  • Pocket Gal 2 was banned likely due to sexual activity and/or nudity related to incentives and rewards. Chien Thon Yeun was the applicant.
  • Hotline Miami - Originally rated MA 15+ on 7 May 2013 by the classification board. It was later re-rated R 18+ on 28 May 2015 through the IARC System. On 13 June 2019 it was refused classification through the IARC System after Devolver Digital attempted to get the game reclassified for the release of the Hotline Miami Collection.
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number - banned due to an implied rape scene that it could be turned off in the game's options menu, even if according to Dennaton Games, the scene was important as a part of the game's story, the developers accepted the ACB opinion and told to the fans to pirate the game themselves. The game is still banned in Australia, retaining the Refused Classification status.
  • Saints Row IV - banned due to "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context", which referred to the Anal Probe weapon in-game and for "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards", which referred to "Alien narcotics" which gave the player superpowers. However, the anal probe weapon was instead released as a DLC in-game, leading to the Australian Classification Board being accused of double standards.
  • Risen was banned due to sexual activity and drug use related to incentives and rewards.
  • Shellshock 2: Blood Trails was banned because of high impact bloody violence
  • CrimeCraft - The always-on DRM game was banned due to drug use related to incentives and rewards. The game's servers were shut down in 2017, rendering it unplayable worldwide.
  • South Park: The Stick of the Truth - the game had similar reaction above about the anal probe scene, but in this case it was mostly because of the characters being minors. The scene was removed from Australian releases and the game was still rated R 18+.
  • State of Decay - banned due to its depiction of drug use as health and stamina power-ups. The game was later re-submitted and re-classified R 18+ after the drugs were changed to "vitamins".
  • Grand Theft Auto V - although the Federal Government was not involved, Target refused to sell the game after outcry about the player being able to kill prostitutes.
  • Syndicate was banned because of high impact bloody violent content.
  • Reservoir Dogs was banned due to high impact violence and torture.
  • The Bug Butcher was banned because of drug use related to incentives and rewards. A censored version was later released with an M rating.
  • Two mods for Minecraft known as Weed Mod for Minecraft PE and Psychedelicraft Mod for Minecraft were banned through the IARC System because of drug use related to incentives and rewards.
  • Sludge Life was banned for drug use related to incentives and rewards.
  • Wasteland 3 was originally banned due to drug use related to incentives and rewards. A censored version was later rated R 18+.
  • A Place for the Unwilling and Ultreia were banned by IARC, with no classification decision supplied.
  • Super Blood Hockey was initially released with an R 18+ rating, but was later banned through the IARC System because of drug use related to incentives and rewards.
  • Rimworld was refused classification due to depictions of "matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults". The game was initially released to Steam in 2018 and was removed from the Australian Steam in March of 2022. The DLCs remain unaffected.
  • Deathsmiles I & II - originally released in 2007, following an upcoming special edition release on the Nintendo Switch the game was banned because of interactive sexual activity involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18.
  • Gal*Gun: Double Peace and Senran Kagura: Estival Versus - both games were pulled from EB Games' stores and websites due to their sexualised gameplay, even as both games were rated R 18+ in their uncensored releases.
  • DayZ - this game originally passed with a MA 15+, but was banned upon its PlayStation 4 release because of drug use related to incentives and rewards. Edited worldwide with this edition receiving an MA 15+ rating.
  • Outlast II - accidentally banned as the developer sent an alpha of the game which contained "implied sexual violence" which was not meant to be in the final game. When the developer properly resubmitted the game, it was released uncensored and rated R 18+.
  • We Happy Few - was initially banned due to the main objective of the game being drug use, much to the outrage of the Australian fans of the game, who accused the OFLC of being "sensitive" by banning the game as the board thought that banning the main collectable of the game (Joy) would influence the use of drugs. In response to the backlash, the ban was lifted and the game was rated R 18+.
  • Paranautical Activity - was banned because of drug use related to incentives and rewards. It was then re-classified as M for Mature Themes on January 16, 2016. On 25 April 2018, the game was re-classified as MA 15+ for Strong Themes, this classification has remained since.
  • Disco Elysium - The Final Cut version of this game was banned due to depicting sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, and violence, as well as showing "revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults". While the original cut of the game had these contents, it was still sold in Australia due to it being a digital-only release, which not required submission to the Board, while The Final Cut was sold as physical copies in addition to digital, which required to be submitted to the Board. Eventually, the Australian Classification Board overturned its decision, as the game developers convinced the Review Board that the drug use was non-graphic, thematically appropriate for the story about a detective who suffered from alcohol and drug-induced amnesia, causing drawbacks for the player as well.
  • Mary Skelter: Finale, Omega Labyrinth Z and MeIQ: Labyrinth of Death were banned because of interactive sexual activity involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
  • Mother Russia Bleeds - banned through the IARC System because of sexual violence and drug use related to incentives and rewards. Developers Devolver Digital then appealed the rating through the Australian Classification board via a manual review and the game once again given the Refused Classification Rating for the same reason it was initially rejected. The game is still available for purchase within Australia via the Online Steam Store.
  • Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkuni was banned because of implied sexual violence related to incentives and rewards. The PC version of the game became available for purchase in the Steam store on 20 June 2017 without classification, until it was finally taken down on 10 August in the same year.
  • Dead Island: Riptide - this sequel to Dead Island whose trailer featured a couple killing themselves graphically rather than be ripped apart by the infected, had its logo of a lynched zombie which caused it to be changed and the game's ad pulled from Australian television after its airing.
  • Stick Cricket - this Android cricket game had the animation where in case the Stick Batsman missed a bouncer, the ball would hit his head making him collapse on his stups and then out bowled for comedic effect, which during an upgrade was altered due to the tragic death of batsman Phillip Hughes, who was injured in a similar way during a cricket match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, dying a few days later.

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