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Defining geographic boundaries

In July 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) issued the new Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).1 The ASGS is used to disseminate a broad range of ABS social, demographic and economic statistics and has been used in this chapter in conjunction with postcode data as the basis for reporting. Traditionally, the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) has reported the location of APS employees at the level of state and territory which is the largest spatial unit of the ASGS structure. Using the Greater Capital Cities Statistical Area (GCCSA) boundaries from the ASGS structure, this chapter (for the first time) examines the APS workforce at a lower level of granularity. The GCCSA is designed to represent a socio-economic definition of the capital cities in each state and territory.

The capital city boundary includes people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, but may live in the small towns and rural areas surrounding the city.2

Using postcode data

A key limitation with using postcode data is that Australia Post does not maintain a definitive set of postcode boundaries as a matter of course and can introduce, retire or change postcodes at its discretion to support operational requirements and provide enhanced service to customers.3 Postcodes cover most, but not all, of Australia.

The Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED) specifications require APS agencies to provide the Commission with the postcode of the employee's workplace. Agencies are advised that for home-based employees the postcode of the employee's base office—not the employee's home address—is to be reported. An analysis of the workplace postcode location data currently held in APSED revealed the large majority of information being reported by agencies to the Commission accurately reflects the workplace postcode of APS employees. However, a small portion of the data reports a mix of post box, delivery centre or employee's residential postcodes. The Commission is working with agencies to address these anomalies, some of which are driven by the configuration of agency human resource (HR) systems. Given that the data reported here is at the level of broad regions (state, territory, capital cities and regional areas), ASPED data is considered of sufficient quality that it can provide a good indication of where APS employees are located.


1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Statistical Geography Standard, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, (2011), http://www.abs.gov.au.

2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Statistical Geography Standards: Volume 1—Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, (2011), http://www.abs.gov.au.

3 Australia Post, Assignment of Postcodes, (2013), http://auspost.com.au/about-us/assignment-of-postcodes.html.