1301.6.55.001 - Tasmanian Statistical News, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/12/2010   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


New Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGS) coming soon
News from the Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre
New Guide for using statistics for evidence based policy
Regional data made easy
The latest AG MAG is out!
Looking for a better way to find information on the ABS website?
New Disability and Carers topic page
Media Centre on the ABS website


From July 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will progressively replace the current Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) with the new Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). The ABS anticipates that all its spatial data will be based on the ASGS by 2014.

The ASGS will be used for the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. Census data for Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) will also be available from the 2011 Population Census to provide a bridge between the ASGC and the ASGS.


The ASGS brings all the regions used by the ABS to output data under the one umbrella. They are divided into two broad categories:

1. ABS structures, those regions which are defined and maintained by the ABS.
2. Non-ABS structures, those regions defined and maintained by other organisations, but for which the ABS releases data.

The ABS structures are a hierarchy of regions specifically developed for the release of particular ABS statistics described below.

ABS Regions

Mesh Blocks
are the smallest area geographical region. There are approximately 348,000 covering the whole of Australia. They broadly identify land use such as: residential, commercial, agriculture and parks etc. Residential and agricultural Mesh Blocks usually contain 30 to 60 households. Mesh Blocks are the building block for all the larger regions of the ASGS. Only limited Census data, total population and dwelling counts will be released at the mesh block level.

Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s)
will be the smallest region for which a wide range of Census data will be released. They will have an average population of about 400. They will be built from whole Mesh Blocks and there will be approximately 55,000 covering the whole of Australia.

Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s)
will have an average population of about 10,000, with a minimum population of 3,000 and a maximum of 25,000. The SA2s are the regions for which the majority of ABS sub-state non-census data, for example Estimated Resident Population and Health and Vital Statistics, will be released. There will be about 2,200 SA2s, built from whole SA1s.

Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s)
are a medium sized region with a population of 30,000 to 130,000. They represent the functional areas of regional cities and large urban transport and service hubs. They will be built from whole SA2s.

Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4s)
will be used for the release of Labour Force Statistics.

Urban Centres/Localities, Section of State and Remoteness Areas will define the built up area of Australia's towns and cities and will be broadly comparable to previous Censuses.

Greater Capital City Statistical Areas and Significant Urban Areas
define the Capital Cities, major regional cities and towns of Australia with a population over 10,000. This includes both the built up area, any likely medium term expansion and their area of immediate economic influence.

Indigenous Regions, Areas and Localities are designed for the presentation of Indigenous data. At the Indigenous Locality level it is possible to identify data on particular Indigenous Communities.

Non-ABS Regions

Non-ABS structures will be approximated or built directly from Mesh Blocks or SA1s. The Non-ABS structures include such important regions as: Local Government Areas (LGAs), postal areas, state gazetted suburbs and electoral divisions. LGAs remain part of the ASGS and the ABS will continue to support LGAs with the data it currently provides.

The diagram below summarises the overall structure of the ASGS.

Image: ASGS Structure and Summary


The ABS will publish the ASGS manual with the boundaries, labels and codes for the SAs 1-4 and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas in late 2010 or early 2011.

The Non-ABS structures will be released in mid 2011; this is to ensure that the Census is released on the most up-to-date boundaries available. Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State, Remoteness and Significant Urban Areas will be released in 2012 as they require an analysis of Census data to be developed.

The regions defined in the ABS structures will not change until the next Census in 2016, although the Non-ABS structures will be updated annually.

The ASGS will come into effect on 1 July 2011.

Further Information

For more information please follow the link to the ABS Geography Portal.

If you have any questions regarding the ASGS please email geography@abs.gov.au.

Since the last edition of this newsletter, Hobart's Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre (BSC) has been heavily involved in the production and output of regular monthly and annual Agriculture publications as well as preparations for major surveys and releases in 2011.

The Agricultural Resource Management Survey 2009-10 (ARMS) commenced in June this year, with approximately 38,000 farm businesses being sent the survey form to complete. The survey collects a reduced set of commodities when compared to the Agricultural Survey in 2009, but focuses more strongly on land management data. The collected data are accessed by a number of major users, including state and federal governments, who use the information for budgets, policy and planning purposes. Of course, primary producers, industry organisations and other agricultural businesses are also significant users of the survey data. Preliminary results from this survey were published to the ABS website in November 2010 in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia - Preliminary (cat. no. 7111.0).

For those readers familiar with our monthly publication of wheat stocks and use Wheat Use and Stocks - Australia (cat. no. 7307.0), there have been changes in the availability of data regarding stocks and use of barley and selected other grains and pulses. Until recently, data cubes containing quarterly estimates of stocks and use of barley and selected other grains and pulses were included in this publication. Following a review of the various associated collections and the changing data needs of clients, the collection of these data has ceased. Final updated estimates of stocks of barley and selected other grains and pulses will be published in the December 2010 and March 2011 issues of Wheat Use and Stocks - Australia, after which these data will no longer be available. The publication of monthly data on wheat stocks, use and commitments will continue unchanged.

There have also been changes to our livestock collections. A new methodology and revised definitions have been adopted for producing estimates of livestock slaughtering as a result of an ongoing quality review of this collection and following consultation with key users. The livestock slaughtered estimates are derived from a monthly collection of activity for major abattoirs, with adjustments to account for smaller operators and on-farm slaughtering. From July 2010 on-farm slaughter of livestock is no longer included in the estimates of livestock slaughtering. The calf and pig definitions used in the Livestock Slaughtering collection have also been aligned to current industry standards. The above changes impact on livestock slaughter and production estimates published in Livestock and Meat, Australia (cat. no. 7218.0.55.001) as well as related quarterly slaughtering estimates published in Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0). To assist users in accounting for any associated breaks in time series, issues of both publications incorporate re-based historical estimates.

Next year (2011) the ABS will be conducting the Agricultural Census, a national collection which is run every fifth year and is second only in size to the Population and Housing Census (which will also be conducted in 2011). Forms will be sent out to every agricultural business in Australia in June, with preliminary data expected to be published before the end of 2011.

As foreshadowed in our September issue, the annual Australian Farming in Brief, 2010 (cat. no. 7106.0) was published on 9 September 2010 on the ABS website. Released as a downloadable pamphlet, it contains snapshots of key data relating to Australian farming.

Further information on the ABS' Agricultural Statistics Program can be found under 'Agriculture' on the Topics @ a Glance page on the ABS website.

Image: Evidence Based Policy

'Why do statistics matter? In simple terms, they are the evidence on which policies are built. They help to identify needs, set goals and monitor progress. Without good statistics, the development process is blind: policy-makers cannot learn from their mistakes, and the public cannot hold them accountable' (World Bank, 2000: vii).

There is an increasing emphasis within Australia, and internationally, on the importance of using good statistical information when making policy decisions. The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in an address to the Heads of Agencies in 2008, the Government's agenda was to ensure, 'a robust evidence based policy making process. We're interested in facts not fads'.

In accordance with the ABS mission to 'assist and encourage informed decision-making’, the ABS Statistical Literacy Unit has recently redeveloped the Guide for Using Statistics for Evidence Based Policy. The revised guide was officially launched by the Australian Statistician, Mr Brian Pink, on World Statistics day, October 20, 2010.

The Guide provides an overview of how data can be used to make well informed policy decisions, and includes the following information:
  • What is evidence based decision making?
  • How good statistics can enhance the decision making process
  • Using statistics for making evidence based decisions
  • Data awareness
  • Understanding statistical concepts
  • Analysing and evaluating statistical information
  • Communicating statistical findings
  • Evaluating policy outcomes

We hope this will be a useful resource for policy and decision makers, and lead to an increased use of appropriate statistics in the decision making process.

The guide is available on the ABS website (https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1500.0).

For further information about the publication or statistical literacy activities please email statistical.literacy@abs.gov.au or phone (03) 9615 7062.


If you are looking for data for your region, then the National Regional Profile (NRP) is a great place to start. The latest NRP contains data snapshots for over 2,000 regions across Australia, with five years of data where it is available. You can find updated profiles of Local Government Areas and other types of regions in Tasmania from an easy to use map or list.

What you will find for each region is a range of data from the ABS and other sources organised into 'economy', 'population/people', 'industry' and 'environment/energy' headings. Some of the data items include: estimates of unemployment, estimated residential population, building approvals, plus many more. The data is presented for all years on common boundaries, making it easy to compare data over time.

This latest addition of the National Regional Profile includes new data items for the first time such as tourist accommodation establishments, Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit recipients.
Image: Screen shot of NRP Map-Interface showing the Local Government Area of Latrobe
Screen Shot of NRP Map-interface showing the Local Government Area of Latrobe

The next NRP is expected to be released in about April 2011, with further updates to important series such as births and deaths. The NRP is available from the ABS Home page, or directly from this link: National Regional Profile.


The Agriculture and Environment Business Statistics Centre (BSC) has released its latest edition of the e-magazine "Ag Mag - the agricultural newsletter". The publication has been prepared for the first time in the Agriculture Publications section of the ABS' Tasmanian Office, after previously emanating from Canberra.

The latest edition, released on 1 December 2010, gives an insight into the latest Agricultural news as well as previewing future Agricultural collections. Written in a lighter style, it's one you should check out.
Go to Ag Mag (cat. no. 7101.0) on the ABS website.


Have you ever wanted to know how to find all the information that ABS has about a particular topic. such as tourism, sport or children and youth? How would you go about searching for this on the ABS website?

The first thing that occurs to most would be to use the Search option on the Home Page at www.abs.gov.au. With our improved search tool this is a pretty good option and will return a list of linked results, from which you can choose to follow a path to a particular publication or other web page.
Image: Screen shot of ABS home page showing Search bar and Topics link

Another, less well known option is to go to the "Topics @ a Glance" pages, which were launched on 28 September 2010. They were previously known as "Theme" pages.

Information around a range of topics is drawn together under the broader headings of Economy, People, Environment & Energy, Industry and Regional. These pages are written by the people in the ABS who collect and publish the statistics from the various surveys, and who are most familiar with their own topics.
Image: screen shot showing links to Topics pages

Each of these links leads to a separate page that typically covers:
  • the range of statistics provided by the ABS on that topic, and related topics
  • the latest news from each area
  • latest publications available and
  • help about interpreting and using the statistics

Recently updated Topics @ a Glance pages that may be of interest are Gender and Disability and Carers.

ABS Tasmania also has a Topics page, which features links to published statistics about Tasmania, a noticeboard for the latest news, which includes information about upcoming training and seminars, and contact details for the services we provide.
Image: Screen shot showing Tasmanian Topics Page on ABS website

Next time you need to know "all about" a particular subject on the ABS website, why not try the Topics @ a Glance pages as a starting point?
As part of the new Topics @ a Glance pages release in late September 2010, information about Disability and Carers has now been grouped into a separate topic. The subject matter is now organised into the following:

Image: Screen shot showing Disability and Carers Topic Page

The aim of the new design is to make publications and information papers easier to find.

'Ageing' has been removed from the title as the Ageing area is currently updating its own topics pages.

Watch the Disability and Carers topics pages for a new publication release in January 2011!


The ABS recognises that opinion leaders, including journalists, often assist people in the community to understand the relevance of statistics to their everyday lives. As a response to this, the ABS has created a Media Centre which is a dedicated journalists' portal, with emphasis on quick access to key data. It also has educative resources aimed at encouraging and improving statistical literacy.

ABS Tasmania and ABS ACT laid the groundwork for establishing potential methods to address statistical literacy among the target groups of journalists and journalism students. The Tasmanian office of the ABS worked with the University of Tasmania to identify and address the statistical literacy needs of journalism students, while the ACT office of the ABS worked to identify the statistical literacy needs of working journalists. Based on extensive feedback obtained in the course of that project, a key recommendation was the development of a dedicated journalist’s portal on the ABS website.

The Media Centre can be found under 'News and Media' on the ABS website (see below):
Image: Screen shot showing Media Centre Page on ABS website