Latest release

Using the ASGS

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

The ASGS allows users to analyse and visualise statistics based on location. All ABS data and statistics below the State and Territory level are published with an ASGS code indicating location. The ASGS code makes it easy to find where ABS data is related to, and if you know the name or the ASGS code for the location you are interested in there are a number of ways to access ABS data for that location. This includes through publications, tables, maps and APIs. Information on the various ways to access ABS data can be found in this section.

To select the correct ASGS region you should consider the type of information you are interested in, and how large an area you would like to have represented. As an example, you may want to find information about your suburb, your city, or your state or territory, and should select an ASGS region which covers the appropriate area. To view the different ASGS regions you can visit ABS Maps.

You may also be interested in bringing in data from other sources to view alongside ABS data, or in using ABS data in your analysis of other geographic boundaries. This section also contains some guidance material and resources to support you in doing this.

Using ABS data on ASGS boundaries

All ABS data for areas is coded or can be linked to the ASGS. ABS data is released on the most suitable ASGS geography, and is also available at all of the higher levels of the ASGS. The table below includes some examples.

All ABS publications which include information below the State and Territory level have data with ASGS codes which can be downloaded directly from the publication. This is the most straightforward option if no mapping or geospatial analysis is needed.

For data on a specific ASGS region, for example a particular Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2), detailed economic and social data can be viewed and downloaded from Data by Region. Data is available for the ASGS Main Structure geographies, Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) and Local Government Areas (LGAs). Census of Population and Housing data is also available for further geographies via QuickStats.

There are many other ways to access ABS data coded to the ASGS. See Compare Data Services for a full listing of available services and the geographies included, and information on how to access these services.

Census of Population and Housing data is available for all ASGS geographies with some limitations. For example, the data available at the Mesh Block level is limited to population counts due to confidentiality restrictions. Most population statistics are available by SA2. However, some other data sources are only available for larger areas; these include labour statistics which are released by Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4). Data generally cannot be transformed to smaller areas than the original reported geography, when transformation is applied data quality can be impacted. Smaller area data may be available via microdata releases.

The ABS publishes interactive maps for some publications. ABS data is also available via several online mapping platforms, and these can be used to visualise ABS data through interactive maps.

For geospatial analysis in a Geographic Information System (GIS) you will need to access or create the data in a geospatial format. Some ABS publications include GeoPackages which can be viewed and analysed geospatially through a GIS. Census of Population and Housing GeoPackages can be customised and are available from Census of Population and Housing data packs. For non-Census of Population and Housing publications like Regional Population and Building Approvals, GeoPackages can be downloaded directly from the publication page.

You can also view and geospatially analyse ABS data not available as a GeoPackage through a GIS. To do this you will need to separately download the ABS data you are interested in and the relevant ASGS boundaries, and then join the files within the GIS.

To bring ABS data directly into custom systems, you can use an Application Programming Interface (API) for example the ABS Data API or ABS Indicator API. See the Data services and APIs section of this publication for information on accessing ASGS boundaries as data services and APIs.

Geographies related to urban

The ASGS includes several different geographies that represent urban areas. Each geography is designed for different statistical purposes using different criteria. ASGS approximations of cities and towns may differ from official or commonly applied boundaries. Before using an ASGS geography the purpose, design criteria, and update frequency should be carefully considered. ABS Maps can be used to compare these geographies visually.

Urban area geographies
GeographyDescription
Greater Capital City Statistical AreasGCCSAs represent only the eight state and territory capital cities. They are built up from SA4s that represent large functional areas and labour markets. A range of social and economic data is available for GCCSAs.
Urban Centres and LocalitiesUCLs are built up from clusters of SA1s of urban character. UCLs represent the built up area of cities and towns with populations of over 200 people. Localities are restricted by minimum population sizes. As a result, some small towns are not included in this classification. Census of Population and Housing data is available for UCLs.
Significant Urban AreasSUAs are useful for looking at towns and cities with populations of 10,000 people or more. They are built up from SA2s and like UCLs, represent the built up area of cities rather than their functional area. A wider range of data is available for SUAs than for UCLs, including Estimated Resident Population.
Section of State and Section of State RangeSOS and SOSR classify Australia into urban and rural. Categories are created by grouping together UCLs.
Remoteness AreasRemoteness Areas divide Australia into 5 classes of remoteness, including Major Cities, based on relative access to services. They are built up from SA1s and designed using UCLs and the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+), produced by The Hugo Centre for Population and Migration Studies at the University of Adelaide.

 

Using other data on ASGS boundaries

Data collected outside the ABS that has any kind of geographic information can be geospatially enabled using the ASGS. Depending on the data type and the level of geographic information contained in the data, non ABS data can be linked to the ASGS using point-in-polygon allocations, geocoding, coding indexes, allocation tables or correspondences.

The table below provides a useful guide on transformation processes and the resulting level of accuracy from each.

Data transformation processes

Data type

Input geography information

Transformation process

Output geography

Accuracy level

Unit record data

Location coordinate - latitude and longitude

Point-in-polygon allocation

Any

Most accurate

 

Building/site address

Geocoding

Any, via coordinates

Most accurate

 

Locality information (for example Suburb and Postcode/State)

Coding Index

SA2 and above

Moderately accurate

Aggregated data

ASGS region

Allocation table

Higher level ASGS regions

Most accurate

 

Region information - other non-ASGS regions (for example Medicare Local regions, school catchments, hospital regions, and environmental zones

Correspondence

Higher or similar level ASGS region

Least accurate

 

ASGS region

Correspondence

Region information other than the ASGS

Least accurate

The ABS recommends using methods such as point-in-polygon allocations and geocoding as the preferred methods of allocating data to the ASGS, however this is not always possible. If only partial address information is available, then coding indexes are recommended. Correspondences, though the most common method of transforming data, should only be used when one of the other options isn't available, as this method is the least accurate in terms of moving data between geographies. The Information Paper on converting data to the ASGS, provides more detail on the various options available.

To support the use of the ASGS, the ABS approximates some common geographies like postcodes and suburbs by constructing them from smaller ASGS Main Structure units. This allows users to compare data in a consistent way.

Using postcodes to match to the ASGS

The ABS creates approximate postcode boundaries using Mesh Blocks, called Postal Areas (POAs). Authoritative boundaries for postcodes are not publicly available, and postcodes are not recommended as a source of geocoding information. POAs are a Non ABS Structure and can be downloaded as digital boundaries and as Mesh Block to POA allocation files from this publication. The ABS recommends obtaining both postcode and suburb information where possible as this will give a better correspondence to the ASGS.

For aggregated data with non-ASGS regional information (for example school catchments), a custom correspondence would be needed. Please note that these are not regularly provided by the ABS and must be arranged through statistical consultancies. Some non-ASGS boundaries may be supported in TableBuilder due to ABS subject matter area requirements.