IMPLICATION OF THE CHANGE
The ASG will bring all the boundary sets used by the ABS under the one scheme. All boundaries will be either built up from or approximated by Mesh Blocks. It will be possible to introduce new boundary sets if new user requirements are identified.
For many users, the key change between the ASGC and ASG is the abandonment of the CD and SLA as fundamental units of the geography.
Census data will be released on a new census output unit optimised for the release of a range of data called the Statistical Area 1 (SA1s). Unlike CDs the SA1s will be made up of whole Mesh Blocks; census collector’s work load will not be a consideration in their design. Over most of Australia SA1s will not be comparable to CDs.
Intercensal small area data, such as Building Approvals, Estimated Residential Population and Mortality will be released on a new unit called the Statistical Area 2 (SA2S). Unlike the current SLAs will not be based on LGAs, but on suburbs in urban areas and the functional zones (the area from which people come to a centre to access employment, goods and services and for employment) in regional areas.
The unlinking of LGAs from the SA2 unit, should not be seen as an abandonment of LGAs. LGAs will form a boundary set in their own right and the data currently available for LGAs under the ASGC will remain available under the ASG.
Most of the boundaries of the ASG, including the SA1 and SA2s, will remain stable between Censuses.
The changes will cause some disruption to time series. Data collected at the Mesh Block level can be readily recast on to any previous (or future boundaries) which can be approximated accurately with Mesh Blocks. Data not collected on Mesh Blocks, cannot be so easily recast onto the new boundaries. The ABS will create a series of concordances to facilitate this. In the long run, data comparability across time will be greatly improved as the new classification is more stable. Data from the 2006 Census will be available on Mesh Blocks thus providing a benchmark for population based time series.
Aspects of the ASGC are also entrenched in state and commonwealth legislation; this legislation may need to be amended. A letter explaining the consequences of the review will be sent to all Attorneys General.