1249.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG), 2019  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2019   
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Building the classification

Classification structure

The ASCCEG has a three level hierarchical structure that consists of broad groups, narrow groups, and cultural and ethnic groups.

Broad group

    This is the highest level of the classification.
    There are nine broad groups.
    Each one contains between two and five narrow groups.

Narrow group
    This is the second or middle level of the classification.
    There are 28 narrow groups.
    Each one contains between one and 33 cultural and ethnic groups.

Cultural and ethnic group
    This is the base and most detailed level of the classification.
    There are 278 cultural and ethnic groups, including 24 residual (‘not elsewhere classified’) categories. Residual categories are explained in ‘About codes’.


Broad group, 7 Southern and Central Asian
Narrow group, 71 Southern Asian
Cultural and ethnic group, 7101 Anglo-Indian

Classification criteria

The classification criteria are the principles by which the base level categories of the classification are formed and then aggregated to form broader or higher-level categories in the classification's hierarchical structure.

Two classification criteria are used in the ASCCEG to form the three hierarchical levels:

Geographic proximity of cultural and ethnic groups. It is the geographic area of the world in which a cultural or ethnic group first became, or was first recognised as, a distinct entity.
Similar social and cultural characteristics. These include the characteristics described in the 'Overview, Ethnicity'. The primary characteristics of similarity used to form and aggregate cultural and ethnic groups are language spoken and religion practised. Other characteristics considered are family and social customs, national identities, and historical links. Characteristics such as food, music and art traditions also serve as indicators of cultural and social similarity.

The classification criteria have been applied to aggregate:

Cultural and ethnic groups to form narrow groups on the basis of geographic proximity and similarity of cultural and social characteristics.
Narrow groups to form broad groups on the basis of geographic proximity and a degree of similarity of cultural and social characteristics.

Noteworthy classificatory decisions

The cultural identities of the peoples of Australia are recognised within the ASCCEG. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are recognised with appropriate categories in the narrow group 'Australian Peoples' and since European settlement, a distinct Australian cultural identity has emerged prompting the inclusion of 'Australian' in that narrow group.

Cultural and ethnic group 3308 'Russian' has been classified in Broad Group 3 'Southern and Eastern European' on the grounds of cultural similarity with other European cultural and ethnic groups even though much of Russia lies geographically in Asia. As a general rule, cultural and ethnic groups which originated and are located in Russia have also been classified to Europe. It is acknowledged that this is not necessarily the best solution for all cultural and ethnic groups east of the Urals, many of whom are more culturally Asian than European. The principle that has been adopted for the classification of groups in Russia east of the Urals is that those which speak Altaic or Iranic languages are classified to Narrow Group 72 Central Asian, while those which speak Ugro-Finnic languages are classified to Narrow Group 33 Eastern European.

Jewish has been included in Broad Group 4 'North African and Middle Eastern'. It is acknowledged that many Jewish people in Australia might not have ties with the Middle East and might consider classification within one of the European broad groups as more correct. However, following consultation with representatives of the Jewish community at the time the ASCCEG was developed, it was decided to adhere to the classification criterion for geographic proximity and include 'Jewish' in 'North African and Middle Eastern' as this is where the Jewish culture originated.

Many people relate to more than one cultural or ethnic group and will give a multiple response to a question on ancestry, ethnicity or cultural identity. Often a response will indicate an identification with a country in a national or cultural sense and will also acknowledge continuing ties with other ethnic or cultural groups, for example, Irish Australian, Italian Australian. Data collection models should be developed to capture multiple responses to enhance usefulness of the output.

Design constraints

The ASCCEG is primarily a classification for collecting statistical data within the Australian context.

Theoretical and conceptual considerations for developing the ASCCEG were constrained by the need to ensure the:

Practical usefulness of the classification for collecting ancestry data from both statistical and administrative sources in Australia.
Analytical usefulness of data collected within the framework of the classification.
Number of Australians identifying with cultural and ethnic groups within each category at each level of the classification.
Identification of groups which could be significant for policy setting and service delivery purposes.

The effect of these constraints on the classification has been that:

Some cultural and ethnic groups which are significant in a world context are not separately identified in the structure.
Cultural and ethnic groups which are not separately identified are included in the most appropriate residual or not elsewhere classified (nec) category.
Some broad groups are limited in the number of narrow groups they subsume.

The classification can accommodate changes to Australia's cultural and ethnic composition and can be used to facilitate comparisons with cultural and ethnicity data from other countries.