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The Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG) is the Australian statistical standard for classifying ancestry data within the Australian population. ASCCEG has been developed based on the geographic area in which a group originated, developed or settled noting, similarity of groups in terms of social and cultural characteristics. ASCCEG is intended for use in the collection, aggregation and dissemination of data relating to the cultural diversity of the Australian population.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) developed ASCCEG to satisfy wide community interest in the ethnic and cultural composition of the Australian population and the characteristics of particular migrant community groups. The classification is intended to provide a standard to meet a growing statistical, administrative and service delivery need for data relating to these interests. The adoption of ASCCEG by statistical, administrative and service delivery agencies improved the comparability and compatibility of data on ethnicity from diverse sources.
The first edition of ASCCEG was developed by means of:
The number of members of particular cultural and ethnic groups in Australia was treated as a significant factor in developing the hierarchical structure of the classification, to ensure that the current ethnic profile of Australia is appropriately reflected. Cultural and ethnic groups for which available data indicate small numbers in Australia are not separately identified in the classification structure but are included in appropriate residual categories.
The ABS produced ASCCEG in line with its commitment to provide leadership in the development and promotion of statistical data standards. The ABS uses ASCCEG in its own statistical work, including classifying responses to the question on Ancestry in the Census of Population and Housing, and actively promotes its use by other government agencies, private organisations, community groups, and individuals collecting, analysing, or using information relating to cultural and ethnic groups.
The identification of cultural and ethnic groups in the classification, and the way in which they are grouped, does not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the ABS concerning the recognition of any group by governments, organisations or individuals, or the status accorded them. Nor does it imply the expression of an opinion concerning the relative merit or importance of particular cultural and ethnic groups or the people who belong to them.
DEFINITION OF ETHNICITY
ASCCEG is designed to be used for the classification of information relating to topics such as ancestry, ethnic identity, and cultural diversity. Although these topics have elements of difference, it is considered that the concept common to them all, and underpinning the classification, is ethnicity. Because the words 'ethnicity' and 'ethnic' are associated with many different meanings it is useful to provide some definitional context.
The Macquarie Dictionary (On Line Edition 2011) provides the following Australian context:
For the purposes of ASCCEG 'ethnicity' refers to the shared identity or similarity of a group of people on the basis of one or more factors, which were enunciated by the 1986 Population Census Ethnicity Committee (ABS Cat. No. 2172.0), chaired by the late Professor W.D. Borrie CBE, in The Measurement of Ethnicity in the Australian Census of Population and Housing report to the Australian Statistician (the Borrie Report) published in April 1984. "The Committee considered that the most enlightening attempt to define an ethnic group is that contained in a United Kingdom Law Lords statement." (Reported in Patterns of Prejudice, Vol 17, No. 2, 1983). The Law Lords noted that the key factor is that the group regards itself and is regarded by others, as a distinct community by virtue of certain characteristics not all of which have to be present in the case of each ethnic group.
Among the distinguishing characteristics that may be involved were cited:
Since publication, of the Borrie Report, the multicultural nature of Australian society has further developed; however, the approach to the definition of ethnicity in the Borrie Report is still relevant and serves the purposes of ASCCEG.
The approach of defining ethnic or cultural groups in terms of one or more relevant characteristics allows the notion of ethnicity to be viewed in broad sub-concepts. The Borrie Report describes these as a self perceived group identification approach and an approach that is more historically determined. In ASCCEG, ethnicity is based on the self perceived group identification approach for a number of reasons:
Considering ethnicity as a multi dimensional concept based on a number of distinguishing characteristics using a self-perception approach allows for a practical and useful classification attuned to generally accepted notions of what constitutes ethnicity and cultural identity. This approach supports the collection and use of data in statistical, administrative and service delivery settings.
SCOPE OF THE CLASSIFICATION
The scope of ASCCEG is all cultural and ethnic groups in the world as defined above. In practice, only those cultural and ethnic groups with significant numbers of persons resident in Australia, are separately identified in the classification. However, all cultural and ethnic groups in the world are covered, those not separately identified being included in the most appropriate residual (not elsewhere classified) category of the classification. The code structure of the classification also allows the identification and addition of cultural and ethnic groups not presently separately identified, if such a need arises.
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