In Australia, advertising standards, including those related to outdoor advertising, are governed by a system of industry self-regulation administered by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA). The system is underpinned by a set of voluntary codes which include the AANA Code of Ethics.
The planning and land authority recognises that imagery on hoarding signage advertising is powerful and can influence our beliefs and behaviours. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure hoarding signage advertising is not discriminatory—community members, business, government and non-government organisations—and to make sure hoarding signage advertising reflects our community values and achieves equity across our society.
Purpose of the Guidelines
The purpose of the hoarding advertising signage guidelines (the guidelines) is to make sure imagery on hoarding advertising signage is not discriminatory and reflects the standards and values of the Canberra community.
The guidelines aim to provide the development and advertising industry with information on the values that are important to the Canberra community.
The guidelines encourage developers and advertisers to choose imagery for their hoarding signage advertising that respects the values important to the Canberra community.
Goals of the Guidelines
The guidelines are voluntary and are not to be overly onerous. It is recognised that companies have the right to advertise in the way they feel best, as long as it meets the AANA Code of Ethics.
These guidelines are specific to the ACT and aim to make sure that hoarding advertising signage in the ACT reflects current community values to help create a cohesive community where everyone is treated in a respectful, empowering and dignified way that helps us achieve equity across our society.
What standards does the Canberra community expect?
The ACT Government encourages hoarding advertising imagery to reinforce our community values and help create a cohesive community where everyone is treated in a respectful, empowering and dignified way.
The Canberra community values that should be reflected in hoarding signage advertising are:
- the wellbeing of every Canberran
- the freedom to live safely, without discrimination
- a socially and culturally inclusive society where people are valued and respected regardless of their background, age, social status, size, ability, gender and sexual orientation
- everyone feeling safe, particularly children
- that all people are free from abuse, gender stereotyping and objectification
- gender equality leading to greater participation, equity and stronger workplace outcomes
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are valued, respected and experience a life free of racism and systemic discrimination
- cultural and linguistic diversity, which enhances the social, economic, cultural and civic development of the ACT
- people of all abilities and ages are welcomed, with open spaces and buildings accessible to them
- being a city in the landscape, the bush capital
- being an innovative, healthy, smart, active and fun city
- being a liveable city with a vibrant and distinctive civic lifestyle.
Companies should also consider the ACT Government wellbeing indicators as a point of reference for the priorities that are important to the Canberra community.
Discriminatory imagery breaches the AANA’S Code of Ethics, which requires advertisers to:
- not discriminate against people because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ability, mental illness or political beliefs
- not use sexual imagery in a way that's exploitative or degrading to any individual or group of people
- treat sex and bodies with sensitivity to the audience (for example, when children are likely to be watching).
Where to draw the line?
To help uphold our community values and standards here are some examples what would be considered ‘over the line’ for hoarding signage advertising:
- Is a person shown as a sexualised commodity or product?
- Does the image show a sexualised person being harmed, coerced or unable to give consent?
- Is a sexualised person shown as just body parts, where the body is used as an object?
- Does it show one gender as inferior to another? Or depict outdated gender stereotypes?
- Does it ridicule people with a disability or from a non-English speaking background?
- Does it stereotype people of different abilities, cultural backgrounds and ages in a negative way?
- Does it portray Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people in a negative way?
Canberran's value a society where we are all treated in a respectful, empowering and dignified way. While voluntary, these guidelines will facilitate hoarding advertising signage that reflects current community standards and values to help create a more cohesive community.
How to make a complaint about hoarding advertising signage
What can you do if a hoarding upsets you?
If you see an advertisement hoarding you consider inappropriate, consider the following options:
- Contact the company that is advertising to let them know how you feel.
- Contact Ad Standards, who manage the complaint resolution process of the advertising self-regulation system, including the Australian Association of National Advertisers and the Outdoor Media Association. The bureau aims to give a voice to consumer values and guide industry in maintaining decent and honest advertising aligning with prevailing community standards.
- Contact the ACT Human Rights Commission, the ACT Government body that helps people resolve complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial or religious vilification. Anyone can approach the commission if they think an advertisement is in breach of discrimination laws. There's no requirement to contact the advertisers or the Advertising Standards Bureau first.
How are advertising standards determined and enforced in Australia?
The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics promotes advertisements and other forms of marketing communications to be legal, decent, honest and truthful and that they have been prepared with a sense of obligation to the consumer and society and a sense of fairness and responsibility to competitors.
The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) is the peak industry body for the Out of Home (OOH) industry. OOH is the acronym for advertising that you see outside of the home, across various locations which also includes indoor screens in office buildings, coffee shops, transit stations, etc. The OMA works with Ad Standards to ensure OOH advertising meets prevailing community standards and attitudes. The OMA also works with the AANA, The Communications Council and the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Scheme to ensure that members only display advertising that meets community standards and the self-regulatory codes.