Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) implemented?

The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) has been replaced by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) as the ABS' geographical framework.

The ASGS addresses some of the shortcomings of the ASGC in that:

  • it brings all of the geographic regions used by the ABS into one framework
  • it is more stable - the ABS structures will remain stable between Censuses; unlike the ASGC regions which were reviewed annually
  • the regions at each level of the ASGS ABS structures are more consistent in population size and are optimised for the statistical data to be released for them
  • the Main Structure Statistical Area (SA) units are based on the idea of a functional area and built around whole official gazetted localities, which will result in more meaningful regions and better address coding quality
  • it is based on Mesh Blocks and can therefore support more accurate statistics for a range of commonly used administrative regions such as Postcodes and suburbs

When was the ASGS introduced?

The ASGS came into effect in July 2011. It was adopted for the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. The first ASGS Manual including the boundaries, maps and structures for most of the ABS regions was published in December 2010.

For all ASGS Publications refer to the ABS Geography Publications page.

What happened to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)?

The ASGC boundaries and codes were published for the final time on 14 July 2011. For one year, from July 2011, the ASGC and the ASGS operated in tandem. Since July 2012, the ASGS has been the sole ABS statistical geography. Remoteness Areas, Section of State and Urban Centres and Localities are now part of the ASGS, but are built from Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s) rather than Census Collection Districts.

The 2011 Census of Population and Housing released data on both the ASGS and on the 2011 Statistical Local Areas from the ASGC. Census Collection Districts were not defined as part of the 2011 ASGC and consequently 2011 Census data is not available for these. They have been replaced with ASGS Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s).

LGAs remain part of the ASGS and the ABS will continue to publish a wide range of data for them.

The Final ASGC publications are listed below:
1216.0.15.001 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) - Electronic Structures, July 2011
1216.0.15.002 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Correspondences, July 2011
1259.0.30.001 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Digital Boundaries, Australia, July 2011
1216.0 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), July 2011

How often will the ASGS be revised?

The ABS Structures within the ASGS will be revised and published with digital boundaries with an anticipated frequency of 5 years. This is timed for use with each Census of Population and Housing. The Non-ABS Structures within the ASGS, which generally represent administrative boundaries are updated annually, as required. This usually includes Local Government Areas (LGAs), State Electoral Divisions (SEDs) and Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (CEDs).

How do Local Government Areas (LGAs) fit into the ASGS?

Local Government Areas (LGAs) are not defined by the ABS and are therefore identified as Non-ABS (administrative) regions in the ASGS. The ABS has continued to provide a wide range of statistics for LGAs.

How do I convert data based on the ASGC to the ASGS?

While the ASGS provides a better platform for the analysis of time series into the future, it also creates a break in time series of data based on the ASGC.

The ABS is responding to this issue in several ways:

  1. The ABS has created a series of population and area based correspondences (concordances) between the ASGC regions and the ASGS regions. Correspondences are available under the 'Downloads' tab of all published ASGS volumes or from
  2. Census data is available on both the 2011 ASGS and 2011 ASGC regions, with the exception of Census Collection Districts (CCDs).
  3. Preserving the ASGC Statistical Divisions was a criteria in the design of the SA2 level of the ASGS. This makes it possible to closely approximate data for Statistical Divisions using SA2s.
  4. Some historic demographic data have been recast on to the ASGS regions.
  5. Regional Labour Force estimates have been recast on to the ASGS SA4s.

For more information please view Using the ASGS.

How does the ABS define Urban and Rural?

The ABS Section of State (SOS) Structure of the ASGS defines Urban and Rural.

SOS aggregates the Urban Centre and Locality (UCL) on the basis of population ranges i.e. all UCLs in a S/T within a particular population range are combined into a single SOS.

There are 4 SOS identifiers and names. These are listed below with definitions.

SOS Identifiers and Names
0Major UrbanMajor Urban represents a combination of all Urban Centres with a population of 100,000 or more
1Other UrbanOther Urban represents a combination of all Urban Centres with a population between 1,000 and 99,999
2Bounded LocalityBounded Localities represents a combination of all Bounded Localities
3Rural BalanceRural Balance represents the Remainder of State/Territory

The SOS categories of 0 (Major Urban) and 1 (Other Urban) are regarded as Urban

The SOS categories of 2 (Bounded Locality) and 3 (Rural Balance) are regarded as Rural

For more information please refer to the online ABS publication: Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3: Significant Urban Areas, Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State

What is the purpose of the Remoteness Structure?

The purpose of the Remoteness Structure is to provide a classification for the release of ABS statistics. The Remoteness Structure defines Remoteness Areas, and these divide Australia into five classes of remoteness based on a measure of relative access to services. The five remoteness classes are: Major Cities, Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote.

For more information, please refer to the ABS publication: Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3 - Remoteness Structure

Where can I find ARIA+ scores?

The Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia Plus (ARIA+) is a product of the Hugo Centre for Population and Migration Studies at the University of Adelaide. Please contact the Hugo Centre for further information on ARIA+ and how to obtain ARIA+ scores. 

What is the difference between Postcodes and Postal Areas?

An Australian postcode is a four digit code created and maintained by Australia Post to assist the delivery of mail. As this is a commonly recognised code, many people use it as a make-shift geographic region for their data.

Australia Post define postcodes as aggregates of gazetted Suburb/Locality boundaries. A range of geospatial data vendors release versions of postcode geospatial boundary files.

The ABS Postal Areas (POA) are part of the ASGS Non-ABS Structures, which bring together those regions which are not defined by the ABS, but are important to users of ABS statistics. With the release of the 2016 edition of the ASGS, POAs have been constructed from Mesh Blocks. The allocation of Mesh Blocks to POAs was determined using the best available information on postcodes.

Australia Post postcodes are designed for one specific process, mail delivery. Users should bear this in mind when using ASGS POAs for the collection, analysis or presentation of statistical data.

More information on Postal Areas can be found here.

How does the ABS define Metropolitan and non-Metropolitan?

The ABS does not explicitly define Metropolitan and non-Metropolitan Areas, however the ASGS provides a number of options for users looking for statistics on this basis.

Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) and the Rest of State are geographical areas that are designed to represent the functional or socio-economic extent of each of the eight State and Territory capital cities. They provide a stable definition of the capital cities for which a wide range of social and economic survey data is available.

The Section of State classification breaks Urban Centres and Localities into differently sized urban areas. The Major Urban category defines urban areas with a Census usual residence population of 100,000 people or more. Census data is available for these areas.

Remoteness Areas include a class of Major Cities which provides an objective definition that is not restricted to Capital Cities. A wide range of Census and Survey data is available on Remoteness Areas.

Does the ABS define towns?

The ABS does not explicitly define towns. However, we do define urban areas and localities with populations over 200 persons in the Urban Centres and Localities (UCLs). There are many small towns with populations of less than 200 people that are not included as UCLs. These small towns and other urban areas are represented by State Government Gazetted Localities. The ABS provides Census data on these localities through the Suburbs and Localities (SALs) which are part of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3 - Non ABS Structures.

Where do I find Geographical Correspondences (Concordances)?

Correspondences can be used where the location information of original collection units is not available. They are a mathematical method of reassigning data from one geographic region to a new geographic region.

For detailed information about correspondences please view the online ABS publication: Information Paper: Converting Data to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, 2012 (cat. no. 1216.0.55.004).

An extensive range of correspondences are available through Search for: ‘ASGS’, the 'year', and ‘correspondences or coding indexes’.

Some coding indexes and ASGS allocation tables are also available. For a full list of how to access ABS geographic correspondences see the Correspondences web page.

For more information please contact us.

What is Address Geocoding?

Address geocoding is the process of associating an address with a location on the Earth’s surface. In a statistical agency it is common for address geocoding to be used to allow statistics to be aggregated to both statistical (e.g. Urban Centres) and administrative areas (e.g. Local Government Areas).

The ABS uses address geocoding, in combination with the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), to collect, process and disseminate statistics for a range of different statistical and administrative areas.

In Australia, a physical address is a textual description of an addressable object (e.g. dwelling, mail delivery point, etc). The hierarchical nature of an address enables a location to be derived from different components of an address. Usefully, when used together the combination of Locality, State and Postcode can effectively code data to Statistical Area level 2 and above in the ASGS. The ABS provides a number of Coding Indexes that support this process which are available through

If the complete street address is available, it is possible to code these to smaller areas within the ASGS, using commercially available address matching and coding software. This software associates a latitude and longitude coordinate with each address using the Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF). The coordinate can be used to locate the address with sufficient accuracy and precision to associate the address with any statistical area defined by the ASGS.

For more information on address coding and coding indexes please refer to the ABS publication: Information Paper: Converting Data to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, 2012 (cat. no. 1216.0.55.004).

What is a Geopackage?

A Geopackage is a container designed to store geospatial data, which is data that is designed to be mapped or analysed in a geospatial context.

Some advantages of Geopackage are that:

  • It is a globally recognised and accepted standard published by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
  • It is a self-contained, single file container for the storage and distribution of both statistical and geospatial data.
  • It is based on a globally recognised and accepted database format, which allows SQL querying and editing of the data.
  • The file format can be used by a wide range of software.

For further information follow this link -

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