The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) provides a framework of statistical areas used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other organisations to enable the publication of statistics that are comparable and spatially integrated. First introduced in 2011, the ASGS replaced the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) that had been in use since 1984. The ASGS provides users with an integrated set of standard areas that can be used for analysing, visualising and integrating statistics produced by the ABS and other organisations.
The ASGS is split into two parts, the ABS Structures and the Non ABS Structures.
The ABS Structures are areas that the ABS designs specifically for outputting statistics. This means that the statistical areas are designed to meet the requirements of specific statistical collections as well as geographic concepts relevant to those statistics such as remoteness and urban/rural definitions. This helps to ensure the confidentiality, accuracy and relevance of the data. The ABS Structures are stable for five years to enable better comparison of data over time.
The Non ABS Structures represent administrative areas for which the ABS is committed to providing a range of statistics. These areas can change regularly as they are not defined by the ABS. As a result the Non ABS Structures are updated annually if significant changes to the areas have occurred. This improves the relevance of ABS data released on these areas. For example, the Local Government Areas (LGAs) are released annually: these represent LGAs that are defined by the State and Territory governments. ABS statistics such as Estimated Resident Population (ERP) are output on these LGA approximations.
Separating the ABS and Non ABS Structures in the ASGS ensures that the ABS can provide statistics on both stable, purpose built statistical areas as well as important administrative areas. This is a key difference to the previous ASGC where all areas were related to LGAs and consequently needed to be updated annually to reflect changes in the LGAs. This key difference is possible because the ASGS uses Mesh Blocks as a common building block for all structures. Mesh Blocks, like other ABS Structures, are stable for 5 years. However, they are small enough that they can accurately approximate the changing administrative areas without changing themselves. Mesh Blocks also provide an additional level of confidentiality for data released on the ASGS, as the difference in data released on multiple statistical areas is always at least one Mesh Block.
The ABS Structures are a hierarchy of areas developed for the release of ABS statistical information. Their components are described below.
Diagram 1 depicts the various ABS Structures, their component statistical areas and how they interrelate.
Diagram 1: ASGS ABS Structures