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 2 (SA2) are medium-sized general purpose areas built up from whole Statistical Areas Level 1. Their purpose is to represent a community that interacts together socially and economically.
    There are 2,310 SA2 regions covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. These include 18 non-spatial SA2 special purpose codes, comprising Migratory–Offshore–Shipping and No Usual Address codes for each State and Territory.

    Data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing will be available at SA2 level. The SA2 is the smallest area for the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) non-Census and Intercensal statistics, including the Estimated Resident Population and Health & Vitals data. Whole SA2s aggregate to form Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3). SA2s are also used to approximate Significant Urban Areas and Tourism Regions in the ASGS Non ABS Structure.

    The Other Territories of Jervis Bay, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island are each represented by a SA2 in the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).


    SA2s are designed as the primary output region for the release of non-Census and Intercensal data. Large areas without permanent population (such as international airports, large commercial areas and national parks etc.) are often represented by "zero SA2s” - these are SA2s with an effective design population of zero.

    The SA2s 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.


    SA2s generally have a population range of 3,000 to 25,000 persons. SA2s have an average population of about 10,000 persons and include towns with a population in excess of this. SA2s in remote and regional areas generally have smaller populations than those in urban areas. There are some SA2s outside these target population ranges, due to other considerations such as:

    • the relative sparseness of the population in remote regions (a SA2 with a population of 3,000 may cover too large and diverse a geographical area to be a meaningful unit)
    • the benefit of preserving recognisable areas for which there is a considerable amount of historical data
    • isolated geographical areas, such as islands or other isolated populations
    • the need to avoid arbitrary subdivisions of otherwise coherent regions, such as very large suburbs or regional towns.


    A functional area is the area from which people come to access services at a centre. This centre may be a rural town, a regional city, a commercial and transport hub within a major city, or the major city itself. The concept of a functional area is used at all levels of the ABS Main Structure, but is essential to the design of the SA2s outside major urban areas.

    A centre and its functional area are represented by one or more SA2s. A rural town and its functional area may be combined into a single SA2. A larger town may be identified by its own SA2 and its functional area by a second SA2. Larger towns and regional cities may be represented by several SA2s, as may their functional areas.

    Within cities, the SA2s represent gazetted suburbs rather than functional areas.

    In remote areas, it is difficult to apply the concept of a functional area without creating regions which are too large and diverse. In remote areas, the SA2s were designed to represent meaningful regions, useful for statistical analysis.


    SA2s containing regional towns or on the fringes of larger cities have been designed to contain: the urban area, any immediately associated semi urban development and likely growth in the next 10 to 20 years. This is to ensure that the SA2 boundaries remain stable over several Population Censuses.

    Gazetted Suburbs and Localities

    Where possible, the SA2s have been designed around whole gazetted suburbs or rural localities. This is to make the regions as meaningful as possible to users unfamiliar with the statistical geography and to facilitate address coding to the various units of the ASGS.

    In regional and remote areas, gazetted localities were usually too small to represent a SA2 in their own right and were combined on the basis of whether they formed part of a functional area.

    In the major cities, SA2s often represent single suburbs. Suburb size is variable within and between cities and they do not always make a convenient region to be used directly as a SA2. Where this occurs five general criteria have been used to cluster smaller suburbs together or break up extremely large suburbs:
    • a shared road network
    • shared community facilities
    • Local Government Area boundaries
    • shared historical or social links
    • socio-economic similarity.

    Local Government Area (LGA)

    Local Government Area boundaries were considered in the design of the SA2s and were often adopted where the Local Government Area boundary satisfied one or more of the following:
    • it closely aligned with gazetted suburb boundaries
    • it reflected the underlying settlement pattern
    • it represented the functional area of a regional town or city
    • had a high degree of recognition amongst stakeholders
    • it aligned to a significant recognisable geographical feature.

    Zero SA2

    Zero SA2s have a nil or nominal population. They are created to represent large unpopulated areas that are not easily combined with surrounding populated SA2s.

    They may include:
    • major infrastructure (ports, airports)
    • significant bodies of water
    • major commercial and industrial zones
    • national parks
    • defence land
    • very large urban parks
    • very large sporting precincts.

    Special Purpose SA2

    There are non-spatial SA2s for Migratory - Offshore - Shipping and No Usual Address in each State and Territory.


    The key criteria for SA2 names are that they be:
    • meaningful
    • have a maximum of 40 characters
    • unique, i.e. not shared by any other SA2 in Australia.

    In large urban areas, SA2s are named for the gazetted suburbs that comprise them:
    • where a SA2 is made from a single suburb, it will retain the name of the suburb, for example:
      • Duffy (ACT)
      • Macgregor (ACT)

    • where a single large suburb is split into more than one SA2, it will retain the name of the suburb and a geographic identifier, for example:
      • Mount Waverley - North
      • Mount Waverley - South.

    • where a SA2 is made up from 2 or 3 suburbs, then the SA2 name is a concatenation of the suburb names, for example:
      • Greenfield Park - Prairiewood
      • Bayswater - Embleton - Bedford.
    • where a SA2 is made up of 4 or more suburbs it will be named for the larger or more prominent suburbs, or given a local identifier, for example:
      • Homebush Bay - Silverwater
      • Pioneer Valley.

    In rural areas, SA2s are named for the gazetted localities that comprise them, or the towns, city, or region with which they are associated, for example:
    • Benalla Region
    • Townsville - South
    • Bulahdelah - Stroud.

    Where a SA2 name is duplicated in two or more State and Territory, the State and Territory abbreviation is attached to the SA2 name, for example:
    • O'Connor (ACT)
    • O'Connor (WA).


    A SA2 is identifiable either by a 9-digit fully hierarchical code, or by a truncated 5-digit code comprising the State and Territory and SA2 identifiers. The SA2 identifier is a 4-digit code, assigned in alphabetical order within a SA3. A SA2 code is only unique within a State and Territory if it is preceded by the State and Territory identifier.

    9-digit Code

    A 9-digit SA2 code is fully hierarchical, and comprises: State and Territory identifier, Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4) identifier, SA3 identifier, SA2 identifier.

    Example: 503021041 Perth City


    503021041Perth City

    5-digit Code

    A 5-digit SA2 code is not hierarchical, and comprises only State and Territory identifier, SA2 identifier.

    Example: 51041 Perth City

    S/TSA2SA2 Name

    51041Perth City

Future Allocation of SA2 Codes

In the future, it may be necessary to allocate new codes. If a SA2 is abolished, or changes significantly for new editions of the ASGS, the SA2 identifier will be retired and the replacement SA2(s) given the next available previously unused SA2 identifier within the State and Territory.

SA2 Identifier Ranges

Within each State and Territory, the SA2 identifier is in the data range 0001-7999. SA2 identifiers in the range 8000-8999 are reserved for processing within the ABS. The range 9000 to 9999 is reserved for special purpose SA2s.