Understanding ABS Geographies


The first data from the 2016 Census has just been released so it's important to take time to understand the different geographies used by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and what data is being released for each of them.


ABS Geographies

The ABS have a series of unique spatial boundaries in which data is collected, analysed and released in. Even though data is collected at the household level on census night, that level of detail is generally not available. This is to protect the individual as we know there is a lot of personal and financial information collected. In addition, most users of census data find summary data useful.

To ensure that all data released for dissemination of statistics can be comparable, the ABS publishes data using the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) framework.  The ASGS framework brings together all ABS geographies and regions into one integrated geospatial standard that enables organisations to collect, analyse and visualise ABS data.

Each geography has unique granularity and the census data is aggregated and reported for these spatial areas across the country.  The following table highlights the different types of geographies and what data is released in each.


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What is released and when?

The ABS will release the census data progressively over the next 6 months with each release containing more detailed information than the last. Below are some key data release dates:



What’s being released

Minimum ABS Geography

27 June, 2017

Census of Population and Housing of Australia 2016 (first release)

General Community Profile

Time Series Profile


Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2)

4 July, 2017

Mesh Block Counts. Only basic person and dwelling counts will be available.

Mesh Block

12 July, 2017

Census Data Packs (first release)

General Community Profile (Population & Housing)

Time Series Profile

Place of Enumeration Profile

This data is only available from State level down to SA2 (no longer SA1)

CLICK HERE to see detailed list

Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1)

17 October 2017

Detailed Census data on employment, qualifications and population mobility

CLICK HERE to see detailed list

Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1)


Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas

Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1)



Spatial Vision has been maximising the power of ABS data for our clients since 1999. We integrate geographic and organisational data to provide business systems, spatial analyses and custom solutions to address some of the most pressing resource, economic and environmental challenges.

Our solutions underpin the effective management of demographic information, built assets and infrastructure as well as natural resources. Many of the projects we have delivered for our clients have received state, national and international awards recognising their contribution to industry best practice.

Ask how we can help you and your business maximise the power from ABS data, read about our services and case study’s here: Spatial Analytics and Mapping at Spatial Vision


You can find our more information about the ABS release dates here


Geoff Williams

Leader, Spatial Analytics & Mapping Services






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Geoff Williams

Geoff Williams is the leader of Spatial Vision’s Spatial Analytics and Mapping team. A certified GIS Professional with over 15 years of experience, Geoff has extensive experience in the management of multi-disciplinary project teams and the design and production of spatial analytics and mapping across a broad range of areas and themes.  While delivering complex GIS analysis and output mapping on major infrastructure projects nationally, Geoff is also responsible for managing the production of Emergency services mapping products along with other award winning commercial mapping products under the SVmaps brand.

 Some recent key organisation Geoff has been involved with include;  the Murray Darling Basin Commission, Emergency Management Victoria, and the United Nations Global Compact Cities Program.

For any enquiries please contact us on 1300 36 67 96 or contact Geoff directly via email

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