1270.0.55.005 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011  
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Contents >> Remoteness Areas >> Purpose of Remoteness Areas


The Remoteness Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) is used to disseminate a broad range of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) social and demographic statistics. It divides each state and territory into several regions on the basis of their relative access to services.


The Remoteness Structure has only one level above the Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) of the ASGS Main Structure. The Remoteness Structure is categorised into Remoteness Areas (RAs). RAs aggregate to states and territories (S/Ts) and cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

From the Mesh Block level, the complete list of spatial units in this structure are:

  • Mesh Blocks
  • SA1s
  • RAs
  • S/Ts
  • Australia.

For more information regarding the Mesh Blocks, SA1s and S/Ts, please refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001).


The delimitation criteria for RAs are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+) developed in 2000 by the then Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) and the National Key Centre for Social Applications of GIS (GISCA). GISCA is now incorporated into the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre (APMRC). ARIA+ measures the remoteness of a point based on the physical road distance to the nearest Urban Centre in each of five size classes. For more information on ARIA+ see the University of Adelaide website at <http://www.adelaide.edu.au/apmrc/research/projects/category/about_aria.html>.

The University of Adelaide provides the ABS with ARIA+ as a one kilometre grid covering all of Australia. Each grid point is allocated a value that is determined using the methodology found in the link above. The ABS utilises the ARIA+ grid to create RAs.

The ASGS 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.

Table 1 details each RA category including RA names and the SA1 average ARIA+ value ranges.

Table 1, 2011 Remoteness Areas for Australia

RA Category RA Name SA1 Average ARIA+ Value Ranges

0 Major Cities of Australia 0 to 0.2
1 Inner Regional Australia greater than 0.2 and less than or equal to 2.4
2 Outer Regional Australia greater than 2.4 and less than or equal to 5.92
3 Remote Australia greater than 5.92 and less than or equal to 10.53
4 Very Remote Australia greater than 10.53
5 Migratory - Offshore - Shipping
9 No usual address

Further criteria are used by the ABS to refine RAs. 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 Remoteness Structure. These criteria are listed below:
  • A single SA1 that is not an Urban Centre or Locality 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 1000 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 neighbouring SA1s are classed as a different remoteness category as they are not considered to be completely surrounded.

The Urban Centre and Locality 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 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.004) released in October 2012.

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


Table 2 summaries the number of RA categories for each S/T. Not all RA categories are represented in each S/T.

Table 2, Counts for 2011 Remoteness Areas



(a) Other Territories (OT) includes the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Jervis Bay.
(b) Includes records for Migratory - Offshore - Shipping and No usual address for each State and Territory.


There has been no substantial change in the methodology used to define the RAs and therefore in most cases it is possible to make a valid comparison of the same RAs across several Censuses. In doing such a comparison it is important to realise:
  • remoteness is dynamic, it generally declines over time as new services are built and the road network is improved
  • the regions from which they are built (Census Collection Districts prior to 2011 and SA1s in 2011) also change with the underlying settlement pattern.


A RA is identifiable by a 2 digit hierarchical code. This compromises a S/T identifier code and a RA identifier code. A RA identifier is only unique if it is preceded by the S/T identifier.

For example, the RA coding structure for New South Wales (NSW) is illustrated below in Table 3.

Table 3, RA coding structure for NSW

S/T Code S/T Name RA Category RA Code RA Name

1 New South Wales 0 10 Major Cities of Australia
1 New South Wales 1 11 Inner Regional Australia
1 New South Wales 2 12 Outer Regional Australia
1 New South Wales 3 13 Remote Australia
1 New South Wales 4 14 Very Remote Australia
1 New South Wales 5 15 Migratory - Offshore - Shipping (NSW)
1 New South Wales 9 19 No usual address (NSW)


The following related material is available for the 2011 Remoteness Structure at <https://www.abs.gov.au/geography>
  • Maps of the 2011 RAs for each S/T in '.pdf' format
  • Digital boundaries for the RAs as ESRI Shape files and as MapInfo Interchange Format files (mid/mif)
  • Codes, labels and hierarchies for RAs in '.csv' format
  • Selected correspondences between RAs and other ASGS regions.

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