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Statistical Area Level 3

Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3
Reference period
July 2021 - June 2026

Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s) are geographic areas built from whole Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s). They are designed for the output of regional data, including 2021 Census of Population and Housing data. SA3s create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of SA2s that have similar regional characteristics. Whole SA3s aggregate to form Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4s).

There are 359 SA3s covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. This includes 19 non-spatial special purpose codes including a new Outside Australia code. These non-spatial SA3s represent populations that are difficult to define geographically, such as people who are in transit or have no fixed address. These are represented by Migratory – Offshore – Shipping and No Usual Address SA3s.

The Other Territories of Jervis Bay, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island are each represented by individual SA3s.

SA3 design criteria

SA3s are designed using multiple criteria, listed below in approximate order of importance.

Population

In general, SA3s are designed to have populations between 30,000 and 130,000 people. However, the creation of meaningful regional areas takes priority over population criteria. As a result, there are some SA3s with populations above 130,000 or below 30,000.

Functional areas

SA3s are often the functional areas of regional towns and cities with a population in excess of 20,000 or clusters of related suburbs around urban commercial and transport hubs within the major urban areas.

Identifying regions

SA3s create a standard framework for the analysis of ABS data at the regional level through clustering groups of SA2s that have similar geographic and socio-economic characteristics. In many cases, these areas are defined by existing administrative boundaries, such as State Regional Development Areas or one or more Local Government Areas.

Zero SA3

Zero SA3s have a nil population. They are created to represent large unpopulated areas that are not easily combined with surrounding populated SA3s, such as large national parks on the fringes of large urban areas.

SA3 name criteria

The key criteria for SA3 names are that they be: 

  • meaningful
  • have a maximum of 50 characters
  • unique, that is not shared by any other SA3 in Australia

SA3s are named according to the areas they represent.

  • Where an SA3 represents a well-known regional area or a State Regional Development Area it is named after that region, for example “Southern Highlands”.
  • Where an SA3 represents the functional area of a regional city it is named after that city, for example “Wagga Wagga”. In some cases the name of an associated town or region is also included, for example “Griffith - Murrumbidgee (West)”.
  • Where an SA3 represents an economic hub within a major city it is generally named to reflect that hub, for example “Parramatta”.
  • Where an SA3 represents a group of related suburbs it is named after one or more of those suburbs that reflect its location, for example “North Sydney – Mosman”.
  • Where an SA3 name is not unique within Australia, it is followed by the State and Territory abbreviation in brackets, for example “Central Highlands (Tas.)”.

SA3 coding structure

SA3s are identified by 5-digit hierarchical codes. This comprises a 1-digit State or Territory identifier followed by a 2-digit SA4 identifier, unique within each State and Territory, and a 2-digit SA3 identifier, unique within each SA4.

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Table 7 - coding structure example for 11401 Shoalhaven
S/TSA4SA3SA3 Name
11401Shoalhaven