Census data tools and products


GeoPackages contain comprehensive data about people, families and dwellings for Census geographical areas ranging from Statistical Areas Level 1 to the whole of Australia. GeoPackages are Census data linked to geographical boundary data from the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) in a database container.

GeoPackages are suitable for experienced Census data users who want Community Profile data for numerous locations and have their own databases or Geographic Information System (GIS) software. GeoPackages do not include software.

What is a GeoPackage

Image of Census GeoPackages interface. This is where users can search and download Census GeoPackages.
Image of Census GeoPackages interface. This is where users can search and download Census GeoPackages.

GeoPackage is an open, non-proprietary, platform-independent and standards-based data format for geographic information system implemented as a database container. Originally designed to meet mobile geospatial needs, it is becoming a preferred means for exchanging geospatial datasets and the associated base maps and layers as a single ready-to-use file.

GeoPackage is based on a technology called SQLite, which is a lightweight, public domain database system. If you know SQLite, then you are most of the way to understanding GeoPackage. Most modern Geographical Information systems and tools (for example: MapInfo, ArcMap, QGIS, FME and others) support GeoPackage, making it a powerful and widely adopted geospatial data interchange format.

Visit the GeoPackage website for information on the specification for GeoPackage and implementations and examples.

Advantages of using GeoPackages

  • It is backed by the Open Geospatial Consortium - the international standards organisation for geospatial information and systems.
  • It can hold and transport multiple spatial layers as a self-contained, single file container.
  • It is based on an open and widely supported database format, allowing SQL querying of the data.
  • Data can be added and removed from a GeoPackage.
  • The file format is vendor agnostic. QGIS, FME and others are starting to support GeoPackage making it a widely adopted geospatial data interchange format.

How to download a GeoPackage

To access GeoPackages, navigate to the Census homepage, select the ‘Find Census data’ tile, select ‘Census data tools’, and then select ‘GeoPackages’.

Step 1 – Select a Census year

Choose from 2016 or 2021. 

Step 2– Select a state, territory, or the whole of Australia

Each GeoPackage includes the following geographies that can be downloaded at either an Australia or State/Territory level.

ABS StructuresNon-ABS structures
Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA)Local Government Areas (LGA)
Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4)Suburbs and Localities (SAL), State Suburbs (SSC)
Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3)Postal Areas (POA)
Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2)Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (CED)
Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1)State Electoral Divisions (SED)
Significant Urban Areas (SUA) 
Urban Centres and Localities (UCL) 
Section of State (SOS) 
Section of State Ranges (SOSR) 
Remoteness Areas (RA)* 

*Available mid 2023, for more information, see 2021 Census product release guide.

Step 3 – Select a table or topic (topic selection only for 2016)

GeoPackages are based on the General community profile. The General community profile contains Census characteristics on persons, families and dwellings.

For 2016, GeoPackages are downloadable by a General community profile topic. See GeoPackages topics for more information. For 2021, GeoPackages are downloadable by a General community profile table. You can view which tables relate to each topic by selecting 'Topic'.

Step 4 - Select GDA type

Digital boundaries are available in both the Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020 (GDA2020) and the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994 (GDA94). GDA2020 was adopted as the new official national datum in 2017 and will be adopted gradually by organisations across Australia. The difference between GDA94 and GDA2020 on the ground is currently about 1.8 metres. Eventually, the ABS will phase out GDA94 boundaries.

For more information about GDA2020, please refer to the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping or Geoscience Australia.

Step 5 - Select a GeoPackage type (for 2016 GeoPackages only)

Some topics can have multiple GeoPackages. It is recommended you read the tables included in each GeoPackage (found beneath the ‘Download GeoPackage’ heading) to ensure you are downloading the correct data for your analysis.

Step 6 – Download GeoPackage

Once you have selected the criteria above, the corresponding GeoPackage will appear underneath the ‘Download GeoPackage’ heading. Each GeoPackage can be downloaded as a ZIP file.

GeoPackage topics

2021 GeoPackage topics

2016 GeoPackage topics

Files contained in a GeoPackage

GeoPackage (GPKG) file

  • Census data merged with boundary information

Metadata folder

  • Sequential template files (.xlsx) containing the information about the Community Profile template, such as information about the sequential numbers and data labels, the table descriptions and the population that is being counted
  • Metadata file (.xlsx) containing information on the table numbers, names, populations and cell descriptor information
  • Geography descriptor file (.xlsx) which lists all geographies used in GeoPackages by level, code, label and area
  • Additional geography metadata files (.xml) 

What you need to use a GeoPackage

  • Software for compressed zip files
  • Spreadsheet application (such as Excel) for the Metadata files
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) software

Additivity of data

Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of respondents. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from the table totals.


Page last updated on 12 October 2023

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