Australian Press Council Standards and Guidelines


Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

The Australian Press Council has a series of standards and guidelines available online to advise in common ethical dilemmas.

The Australian Press Council, established in 1976, develops standards of good media practise within Australia, responds to complaints and issues statements on policy matters “within its areas of interest”.

Much like the Media, Arts and Entertainments Alliance (MEAA) we have previously discussed, the Press Council has a statement of principles it requires members to follow which we have discussed here. Their selection of guidelines and specific standards, however, provide informative perspectives on many common ethical dilemmas.

Specific Standards 

These refer to specific contexts, binding to “all publications which are subject to the Council’s jurisdiction”. These refer to coverage of suicide, including but not limited to descriptions of individual instance, method or location, how to report with responsibility, balance, sensitivity and moderation, and different sources of assistance. 

They also refer to standards regarding contacting patients. This includes obtaining informed consent, visitation and how to cease contact. 


Advisory Guidelines

These guidelines are not binding standards but are consistently reviewed guidelines on specific topics. This means that whilst these guides are not required to be followed, they will be consulted by the Council Adjudication panel when deciding on breaches of principles.

  • Reporting on people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics: advice regarding reporting on people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics with respect.
  • Reporting on elections: concerns reporting on elections with fairness and accuracy given the current era of ‘fake news’.
  • Family and domestic violence reporting advisory guideline: help guide consideration around voices used, description of events or framing stories.
  • Letters to the editor
  • Advertorials: primarily concerns identifying advertisements and advertising features etc
  • Digital alteration of images: refers to ensuring altered, including superimposed, images are not misleading or unfair in context.
  • Nazi concentration camps: refers to the cessation of the term “Polish concentration camp” as to prevent harm to polish communities within Australia.
  • Opinion polls: relates to the use of language surrounding opinion polls, including the interpretation and context of the polls.

Reporting of ‘race’: a reinforcement of the council’s principles regarding placing emphasis on “race, religion, nationality, colour, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age of an individual or group”.


[sourced from the Australian Press Council website,]