1270.0.55.004 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 4 - Significant Urban Areas, Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State, July 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/10/2012  First Issue
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Contents >> Significant Urban Area (SUA) >> Significant Urban Area (SUA)



The regions of the SUA structure are constructed from whole SA2s. They are clusters of one or more contiguous SA2s containing one or more related Urban Centres joined using the following criteria:

  • they are in the same labour market
  • they contain related Urban Centres where the edges of the Urban Centres are less than 5km apart defined by road distance
  • they have an aggregate urban population exceeding 10,000 persons
  • at least one of the related Urban Centres has an urban population of 7,000 persons or more.

For the purposes of applying these criteria, a Labour Market is defined as:
  • a Greater Capital City Statistical Area (GCCSA)
  • the combined Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4) of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley exc Newcastle as these represent a single labour market
  • adjacent SA4s across a S/T boundary.

Road distance is measured along the most direct sealed road with a centre line joining two Urban Centres. The distance is measured from the Urban Centre boundaries as defined by the UCL/SOS structure (see Chapter 3).

SA1s not in an SUA are combined to form a 'Not in any significant urban area' region for each S/T.


SUAs represent a new structure without precedent in the ASGC. For regional cities with a population of 25,000 or more, SUAs are broadly comparable to Statistical Districts (S Dists). It is important to recognise that there are a number of key differences between the SUAs and the S Dists.

  • define all cities and towns with a population over 10,000; Statistical Districts only identified Regional Cities over 25,000 people
  • are defined for capital cities, satellite cities and towns within the GCCSA; S Dists were only defined outside Capital City Statistical Divisions
  • are defined using whole SA2s; S Dists were defined using whole Statistical Subdivisions (SSDs)
  • may combine one or more related Urban Centres; S Dists only represented a single Urban Centre.


The key criteria for SUA names are that they be:
  • meaningful
  • a maximum of 40 characters
  • unique, i.e. not shared by any other SUA in Australia.

Where an SUA represents a single dominant centre then it is named for that centre:
  • Alice Springs
  • Albany
  • Mount Gambier.

Where an SUA represents a combination of two centres of comparable importance, it is

named for both centres separated by spaces and a hyphen:
  • Gladstone - Tannum Sands
  • Warragul - Drouin
  • Kalgoorlie - Boulder.

Where an SUA crosses a S/T border, it is named after the largest centre on each side, separated by spaces and a hyphen:
  • Gold Coast - Tweed Heads
  • Mildura - Buronga
  • Canberra - Queanbeyan.

Where an SUA represents a region with a widely recognised name, it is named for that region:
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Central Coast.


An SUA is identifiable by a unique 4 digit non-hierarchical code. The SUA code is unique within Australia. The regions representing those parts of a S/T 'Not in a significant urban area' have codes ending in 000:
  • 5009 Perth
  • 1012 Dubbo
  • 8000 Not in a Significant Urban Area (ACT).

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