Remote areas statistical geography in Australia: Notes on the Accessibility/ Remoteness Index for Australia [ARIA+ Version]

Working Paper No. 9

Published: 2003

There have been increasing concerns over a number of years about the difficulties faced by Australians living in rural and remote areas of Australia in accessing services that most Australians take for granted. A parallel concern has been the extent to which the health of people living in these areas is poorer than that of those living in areas with greater accessibility to health, welfare and other services. Government in particular has been interested in finding out more about the circumstances and needs of these populations, and in targeting assistance accordingly.

This led the (then) Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) to sponsor a project to obtain a standard classification and index of remoteness which would allow the comparison of information about populations based on their access, by road, to service centres (towns) of various sizes. Note that although by specifying towns of various sizes the index implicitly takes account of the education, health, welfare, etc. services likely to be located in towns of those sizes, there is no explicit use in the development of the index of what services should exist. That is, distance is the sole measure of access. The outcome of that project was the Accessibility/ Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA), based on a methodology developed by the National Centre for Social Applications in GIS (GISCA).

More recently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) addressed the concept of remoteness, with a view to including it in its classification of areas. The ABS work, also undertaken with GISCA, used ARIA as the underlying methodology for the determination of remoteness. The new classification, described by the ABS as a 'Remoteness Structure', is referred to as ARIA+ (ie., ARIA plus), and is an update and refinement of the original ARIA.

This report includes a comparison of ARIA with ARIA+. It also examines the characteristics of the population under ARIA+, such as the distribution, age, sex, and includes comparisons by Indigenous status.

Authored by PHIDU

Download the Working Paper