1270.0.55.005 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/03/2018   
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The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) defines Remoteness Areas into 5 classes of relative remoteness across Australia. These 5 classes of remoteness are:

  • Major Cities of Australia
  • Inner Regional Australia
  • Outer Regional Australia
  • Remote Australia
  • Very Remote Australia

The five classes of remoteness are determined using a process that provides a consistent definition across Australia and over time. This allows statistical data to be classified in a consistent way that allows users to analyse changes in data for different remoteness categories over time.

Relative remoteness is measured in an objective way using the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+), which is developed by the Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research at the University of Adelaide. ARIA+ is derived by measuring the road distance from a point to the nearest Urban Centres and Localities in five separate population ranges. For more information on how ARIA+ is created see the University of Adelaide website at http://www.adelaide.edu.au/hugo-centre/spatial data/aria/

The University of Adelaide supplies ARIA+ to the ABS as a one kilometre grid which covers all of geographic Australia. Each grid point contains a value representing its relative remoteness, this value is derived using the methodology described in the link above.

The ASGS Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) boundaries are overlayed onto the ARIA+ grid and an average score is calculated based upon the grid points that are contained within each SA1. The resulting average score determines which remoteness category is allocated to each SA1, these categories are shown in Table 1 below. This means that Remoteness Areas aggregate to States or Territories and cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

Table 1: 2016 Remoteness Area Category Names for Australia and SA1 Average ARIA+ Value

Remoteness Area CategoryRemoteness Area NameSA1 Average ARIA+ Value Ranges

0Major Cities of Australia0 to 0.2
Inner Regional Australia
Outer Regional Australia
Remote Australia
Very Remote Australia
Migratory - Offshore - Shipping
No usual address
greater than 0.2 and less than or equal to 2.4
greater than 2.4 and less than or equal to 5.92
greater than 5.92 and less than or equal to 10.53
greater than 10.53
Not Applicable
Not Applicable

Further criteria are used by the ABS to refine Remoteness Areas. These criteria are applied to remove anomalies that the index may produce and are consistent with the methodology that was applied in the delimitation of the 2006 and 2011 Remoteness Structure. These criteria are:
    • A single SA1 that is not an Urban Centre and is completely surrounded by SA1s of a different remoteness category is merged into the surrounding remoteness category.
    • A cluster of SA1s that make up a Locality of less than 1,000 persons that is surrounded by SA1s of a different remoteness category is merged into the surrounding remoteness category.

Note that the above rules do not apply to coastal SA1s, where all neighbouring SA1s are classed as a different remoteness category. This is because the coastal SA1s are not considered to be completely surrounded.

The Urban Centres and Localities referenced in the above criteria are defined according to the ABS publication Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Volume 4 - Significant Urban Areas, Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State, July 2016 (cat no. 1270.0.55.004) released in October 2017.

Within each State or Territory each Remoteness Area represents an aggregation of non-contiguous geographical areas which share the common categorisation of remoteness. While statistical data classed to this structure may be available by State or Territory, characteristics of remoteness are determined in the context of Australia as a whole; consequently not all Remoteness Area categories are represented in each State or Territory, as illustrated in Table 2.

Table 2: Counts of 2016 Remoteness Areas by State and Territory


Remoteness Area (b)

(a) Other Territories (OT) include the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Jervis Bay and Norfolk Island.

(b) Includes records for Migratory - Offshore - Shipping and No usual address for each State and Territory.

A Remoteness Area is identifiable by a 2 digit hierarchical code. This comprises a State or Territory identifier and a Remoteness Area identifier code. A Remoteness Area identifier is only unique if it is preceded by the State or Territory identifier.

As an example the Remoteness Area naming and coding structure for New South Wales (NSW) is illustrated below in Table 3.

Table 3: Remoteness Area naming and coding structure for NSW

State or Territory CodeState or Territory NameRemoteness Area CategoryRemoteness Area CodeRemoteness Area Name

1New South Wales010Major Cities of Australia
1New South Wales111Inner Regional Australia
1New South Wales212Outer Regional Australia
1New South Wales313Remote Australia
1New South Wales414Very Remote Australia
1New South Wales515Migratory - Offshore - Shipping (NSW)
1New South Wales919No usual address (NSW)