1270.0.55.001 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2010  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  
Contents >> Main Structure >> STATISTICAL AREA LEVEL 3 (SA3)


The SA3s provide a standardised regional breakup of Australia. The aim of SA3s is to create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of SA2s that have similar regional characteristics.

SA3s are built from whole SA2s. Whole SA3s aggregate directly to SA4s in the Main Structure. SA3s do not cross S/T borders. There are 333 SA3 spatial units. In aggregate, they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.


Listed below are the criteria for the delimitation of SA3s in the approximate order of importance.


In general, the SA3s are designed to have populations between 30,000 and 130,000 persons. The lack of specific statistical requirements provides the SA3s with considerable flexibility in terms of population variability and this allows the definition of meaningful regional areas to take precedence over population criteria. As a result, there are a number of SA3s with populations above 130,000 or below 30,000.


SA3s are often the functional areas of regional towns and cities with a population in excess of 20,000 or clusters of related suburbs around urban commercial and transport hubs within the major urban areas.

Identifying Regions

The regional breakups have been designed to reflect regional identity. These are areas with both geographic and socio-economic similarities. In many cases, these areas are defined by existing administrative boundaries such as State Regional Development Areas or one or more LGAs.

Zero SA3

Zero SA3s have a nil or nominal population. They are created to represent large unpopulated areas that are not easily combined with surrounding populated SA3s, such as large National Parks on the fringes of large urban areas.

Special Purpose SA3

There are non-spatial SA3s for Migratory - Offshore - Shipping and No Usual Address in each S/T.


The key criteria for SA3 names are that they be:

  • meaningful
  • have a maximum of 40 characters
  • unique, i.e. not shared by any other SA3 in Australia.

SA3s are named according to the areas they represent:
  • where an SA3 represents a well-known regional area or a State Regional Development Area it is named after that region, for example:
      • Southern Highlands
      • Mid West
  • where an SA3 represents the functional area of a regional city it is named after that city, for example, Wagga Wagga. In some cases the name of an associated town or region is also included, for example:
      • Griffith - Murrumbidgee (West)
  • where an SA3 represents an economic hub within a major city it is generally named to reflect that hub, for example:
      • Parramatta
  • where an SA3 represents a group of related suburbs it is named after one or more of those suburbs that reflect its location and extent, for example:
      • North Sydney - Mosman
      • Brunswick - Coburg
  • where an SA3 name is not unique within Australia, it is followed by the S/T abbreviation in brackets, for example:
      • Central Highlands (Tas.)
      • Central Highlands (Qld).


An SA3 is identified by a 5-digit hierarchical code. This comprises a 1-digit S/T identifier followed by a 2-digit SA4 identifier, unique within each S/T, and a 2-digit SA3 identifier, unique within each SA4.


11401 Shoalhaven

S/T SA4 SA3 SA3 Name

1 14 01 Shoalhaven

Future Allocation of SA3 Codes

In the future, it may be necessary to allocate new codes. If an SA3 is abolished, or changes significantly between editions of the ASGS, the SA3 identifier will be retired and the replacement SA3(s) given the next available previously unused SA3 identifier within the SA4.

SA3 Identifier Ranges

Within each S/T, the SA3 identifier is in the data range 01-79. SA3 identifiers in the range 80-99 are reserved for special purpose SA3s.

Previous PageNext Page