1216.0.55.001 - Review of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/08/2007  First Issue
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This chapter outlines a proposal to replace the current ASGC.


The diagram below summarises the proposal. The various structures of the new Australian statistical geography are discussed in the text below.

Diagram: Main Structure


The new standard geography will have three parts. Each part will contain a number of structures, each designed for a specific purpose. The ABS Structures include a new Main Structure based on functional zones (Statistical Areas (SAs) 1 to 4 in the diagram). Structures defining Capital Cities, Major Urban Concentrations (MUCs), Rural/Urban and Remoteness. The ABS Structures will be defined and maintained by the ABS and built up of whole mesh blocks.

The Endorsed Structures will be largely defined and maintained by organisations outside the ABS, with the ABS as an active stakeholder. These structures may be either built up, or very closely approximated by, whole mesh blocks. A set of criteria has been developed to incorporate new Endorsed Structures into the standard.

The Supported Structures contain boundaries on which there is widespread community demand for statistics, but are outside the control of the ABS. They will be approximated by mesh blocks. A set of criteria has been developed to incorporate new Supported Structures into the standard.

Each part is discussed in more detail below.


These structures will be defined and maintained by the ABS. They will be stable between censuses. Geographic levels above mesh block will be designed to remain relatively stable for three censuses (15 years).


This structure is the replacement for the current ASGC Main Structure. Conceptually this will be based on the functional zones around urban centres of different population sizes in regional areas and urban hubs in urban areas.

It will be a hierarchy of four levels (SAs 1-4) between state and mesh block. The lowest level (SA1) will replace the CD as a base level dissemination unit for the Census. The second level (SA2) will be the lowest level for which Estimated Residential Population (ERP) and other ABS data will become generally available. The third level (SA3) represent intermediate sized regions and the fourth level (SA4) large regions.

This structure is described in more detail in Chapter 4.


State and territory capital cities will be identified in the Capital City Structure. The structure will also define a "Rest of State/Territory", this being the remainder of each state or territory outside the capital city.


MUCs will replace the current Statistical District Structure. MUCs, as with statistical districts, will cross state borders where appropriate. This structure will be built from the SA2 level of the Main Structure.

The MUC Structure will have two classes:

      1. Cities and Major Towns of Australia: This will define the urban and semi-urban conglomerations of over 10,000 people outside the capital cities. It will also incorporate their likely growth in the next 20 years, semi-urban fringe and satellite settlements.
      2. Rural Australia and Towns: everything outside of the capital cities and MUCs; generally small to mid sized regional towns, small rural communities, agricultural and unsettled land.


This will be the current Remoteness Areas moved on to mesh blocks.


A definition of urban and rural will be part of the ABS Structures. This issue will be reviewed in 2008.



To be included in the Endorsed Structures, a set of boundaries must meet the following criteria.

      1. The ABS must have significant input into the definition of the structure.
      2. Boundaries must be stable over a 5 year time frame.
      3. Boundaries must align or closely align to mesh blocks.
      4. There must be general stakeholder/user agreement on the value of the boundaries.

One structure is currently proposed for the Endorsed Structures - more will be added as user needs are identified - this structure is described below.



This will be similar to the current Indigenous Geography. It will identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It will also provide a geographical structure for Indigenous people outside these communities. The ABS will develop this for the 2011 Census with input from stakeholders.



To be included as a Supported Structure a set of boundaries must meet the following criteria:

      1. Must be widely used.
      2. Able to be approximated with mesh blocks.
      3. The ABS is willing to publish data, concordances and boundaries for them.


The Supported Structures will be maintained on an annual basis.

Currently nine structures are proposed for inclusion in the Supported Structures. They will be approximated with whole mesh blocks. The nine structures are:

  • Australian River Basins
  • Commonwealth Electoral Divisions
  • Local Government Areas
  • Natural Resource Management Regions
  • Postcodes
  • State Electoral Divisions
  • Suburbs
  • State Administrative Regions
  • Tourism Regions