1270.0.55.001 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/07/2016   
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    Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3) are geographical areas built from whole Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2). They have been designed for the output of regional data, including 2016 Census data. SA3s create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of SA2s that have similar regional characteristics. Whole SA3s aggregate to form Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4).

    There are 358 spatial SA3 regions covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. These include 18 non-spatial SA3 special purpose codes comprising Migratory–Offshore–Shipping and No Usual Address codes for each State and Territory.

    The Other Territories of Jervis Bay, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island are each represented by a SA3 in the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).


    SA3s are designed to provide a regional breakdown of Australia. They generally have a population of between 30,000 and 130,000 people. In regional areas, SA3s represent the area serviced by regional cities that have a population over 20,000 people. In the major cities, SA3s represent the area serviced by a major transport and commercial hub. They often closely align to large urban Local Government Areas (e.g. Gladstone, Geelong). In outer regional and remote areas, SA3s represent areas which are widely recognised as having a distinct identity and similar social and economic characteristics.

    There are a small number of "zero SA3s". These have an effective design population of zero and represent very large National Parks close to the outskirts of major cities.

    The SA3s were designed using a number of criteria which reflect a balance between respective considerations. Listed below are the criteria 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 Local Government Areas.

    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 State and Territory.


    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 a 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 a 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 a SA3 represents an economic hub within a major city it is generally named to reflect that hub, for example:
      • Parramatta

    • where a 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 a SA3 name is not unique within Australia, it is followed by the State and Territory abbreviation in brackets, for example:
      • Central Highlands (Tas.)
      • Central Highlands (Qld).


    A SA3 is identified by a 5-digit hierarchical code. This comprises a 1-digit State and Territory identifier followed by a 2-digit SA4 identifier, unique within each State and Territory, and a 2-digit SA3 identifier, unique within each SA4.

    Example: 11401 Shoalhaven

    S/TSA4SA3SA3 Name


Future Allocation of SA3 Codes

In the future, it may be necessary to allocate new codes. If a SA3 is abolished, or changes significantly for new 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 State and Territory, the SA3 identifier is in the data range 01-79. SA3 identifiers in the range 80-99 are reserved for special purpose SA3s.