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1249.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG), 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/08/2011   
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A one digit code is assigned to each first level unit in the classification. A two digit code is assigned to each second level unit, and a four digit code is assigned to each third level (base level) unit.

Broad group level

The first level of the classification, the broad group level, comprises nine categories to provide a broad overall view of the geographic proximity of cultural and ethnic groups in terms of the location in which they originated or developed and are represented by one digit codes.

They are:

1 Oceanian
2 North-West European
3 Southern and Eastern European
4 North African and Middle Eastern
5 South-East Asian
6 North-East Asian
7 Southern and Central Asian
8 People of the Americas
9 Sub-Saharan African

Narrow group level

The second level of the classification, the narrow group level, provides increasingly detailed breakdowns of the broad groups.

The narrow groups are represented by a two digit code, the first digit indicating the broad group to which they belong. For example, within the Oceanian broad group (code 1), Australian Peoples is code 11, New Zealand Peoples is code 12, and Polynesian is 15, etc.

Cultural and Ethnic Group level

At the third and most detailed level, the cultural and ethnic groups are represented by a four digit code. The first two digits represent the broad and narrow groups to which they belong.

For example:

The cultural and ethnic groups: 1101 Australian, 1102 Australian Aboriginal, 1103 Australian South Sea Islander and 1104 Torres Strait islander, all fall within the Australian Peoples narrow group (code 11) and the Oceanian broad group (code 1).

1 Oceanian

11 Australian Peoples

1101 Australian
1102 Australian Aboriginal
1103 Australian South Sea Islander
1104 Torres Strait islander

Adding cultural and ethnic groups to the classification

The cultural and ethnic profile of Australia is likely to change over time because of factors such as changing migration patterns. Therefore, it may be necessary from time to time, to add cultural and ethnic groups to, or delete cultural and ethnic groups from, those separately identified in the classification, as the number of people identifying with a particular cultural and ethnic group in Australia changes. ABS periodically reviews its classifications to take account of relevant changes.

If it becomes necessary to separately identify an additional cultural and ethnic group in the classification structure, it will be allocated the next available four digit code, in the numerical sequence of codes of the narrow group to which it is being added. The cultural and ethnic groups of each narrow group are in alphabetical order, with the exception of the residual 'not elsewhere classified' (nec) categories.

Separately identified cultural and ethnic groups are not allocated codes ending with the digits '0' or '9'. These are special purpose codes used to denote residual (nec) categories in the case of '9', and supplementary, not further defined (nfd) codes in the case of '0' (see; Codes for residual categories and Supplementary codes).

The ASCCEG code scheme is devised so that any future changes, to the classification structure, can be easily accommodated. However, in order that the classification remains a standard, users should not make arbitrary changes to the structure. Rather, they should contact the ABS and identify any apparent problems they encounter in the course of implementation, data collection, or data analysis.


'Not elsewhere classified' (nec)

Some narrow groups include residual 'not elsewhere classified' (nec) cultural and ethnic group categories. These categories are represented by four digit codes consisting of the two digits of the narrow group code, followed by the digits 99. All cultural and ethnic groups which are not separately identified in the classification are notionally included in the 'nec' category of the narrow group to which they relate. The classification currently has 24 'nec' categories at the cultural and ethnic group level for narrow groups where ABS experience indicates they are required. The decision to include particular cultural and ethnic groups in 'nec' categories rather than to show them as substantive categories is based mainly on their lack of numerical significance in Australia.

'Other' or 'Miscellaneous'

In some broad groups, codes are also reserved for residual categories at the narrow group level. These codes consist of the broad group code followed by 9. These categories are termed 'Other' or 'Miscellaneous' categories and consist of separately identified cultural and ethnic groups which do not fit into other narrow groups on the basis of the classification criteria. The classification currently contains two such residual categories.

Additional residual categories

Provision exists in the code structure for the creation of additional residual categories. If experience indicates the need for further residual categories the ABS will create them and add them to the classification structure. Residual categories are part of the classification structure and should not be created or used merely to 'dump' responses containing insufficient data to code to a separately identified category of the classification (see: Supplementary codes and Coding rules in Index for coding responses page).


Supplementary codes are used to process inadequately described responses in statistical collections and are listed separately in the ASCCEG data cube

It should be noted that supplementary codes are not part of the classification structure. They exist for operational reasons only, and no data would be coded to them if sufficiently detailed responses were obtained in all instances.

The codes are of three types:

  • four digit codes ending with two or three zeros
  • four digit codes commencing with three zeros and
  • four digit codes commencing with the digits '09' to meet specific needs.

Supplementary codes ending in zero

Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (nfd) codes and are used to code responses to a question about ancestry which cannot be accurately coded to the base (four digit cultural and ethnic group) level of the classification but which can be coded to a higher level (broad or narrow group) of the classification structure.

For example, responses which contain insufficient information to be assigned the code of a base level unit, but which are known to be within the range of cultural and ethnic groups relating to a particular narrow group, can be coded at that narrow group level. Such responses are allocated an 'nfd'. code consisting of the two digit code of the narrow group followed by '00'. For instance, the response 'Scandinavian' does not contain sufficient information to be coded directly to any specific base level unit, but it can be coded to Narrow Group 24, Northern European, which covers all the cultural and ethnic groups that are encompassed by the term 'Scandinavian'. It is thus allocated the 'nfd' code 2400, Northern European, nfd.

Similarly, responses which do not contain sufficient information to be coded to a specific cultural or ethnic group, or to a narrow group, but which are known to fall within the range of cultural and ethnic groups of a particular broad group, can be coded at the broad group level. Such responses are allocated an 'nfd'. code consisting of the single digit code of the broad group followed by '000'. For example, the response 'Celtic', does not contain sufficient information to be coded directly to any particular base level category or to a particular narrow group, but it can be coded to Broad Group 2, North-West European, as all Celtic cultural and ethnic groups originated and developed in North-West Europe. It is therefore allocated the 'nfd'. code 2000, North-West European, nfd.

Four digit codes commencing with '09' are used to code ancestry responses which might broadly describe the the region of origins but not be codable to either a discrete cultural or ethnic group or to one of the 'nfd' codes. These codes allow for the preservation of useful data for responses such as African, Asian, European etc where the data might otherwise be aggregated to an ' inadequately described' supplementary category.

Using these supplementary codes enables responses or input data which can only be assigned codes at the broad or narrow group levels of the classification to be processed within a collection at the four digit level. This allows the coding process to be as precise as the input data quality allows, preserving data that would otherwise be discarded as uncodable or aggregated with other data to which it is unrelated in the 'inadequately described' supplementary category. (The full list of supplementary codes used can be found in the ASCCEG data cube).

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