How to source data for small areas

How to source data for small areas is a guide for users on small area (community level) data. Small area data is available across a number of sites hosted by government agencies and other entities. Below are links to three websites that provide small area data related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These sites are external to the Closing the Gap dashboard.

Click on the headings below to open the supporting material on sourcing small area data.

Small area data is a way of describing the characteristics – such as health, environment, demographic, socio-economic, cultural – of a defined geographic area relevant to a community. The availability of small area data varies based on the rarity of the outcome measure and/or the size of the population of interest in the data collection.

Requirements for small area data vary across different communities and sectors:

  • There is no single preferred geography for disaggregating data. The need for small area data differs according to the needs of the person and/or organisation requiring the data. For example, councils may require data for Local Government Areas, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations may prefer data for Indigenous regions.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities are best placed to determine what data and level of disaggregation best suits their needs.

Small area data that is aligned to Closing the Gap data specifications is available from the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website, published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The RIFIC website allows users to search for a community (or other location) and access regional level statistics on, and related to, the Closing the Gap targets and other related data sets. Users can use the RIFIC dashboard to compare regions and look at trends over time, where possible.

For more information on the available geographic disaggregations for each Closing the Gap target, see RIFIC technical notes, while information on how to use the AIHW RIFIC website is available at Help - AIHW RIFIC.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes small area data on the Data by region website. The Data by region website is a visual compendium of geographic data, enabling users to find data for over 4,500 regions across Australia. It contains over 800 data items, covering a range of themes including Population, Economy and Industry, Income, Education, Employment and Land and Environment.

The ABS TableBuilder is an online tool which allows users to create, save and download customised data tables from ABS data collections. Access to most datasets on ABS TableBuilder is free, although users must be registered. For more information see the TableBuilder information page.

Most data collections on TableBuilder enable users to extract data for small areas, with the option to create customised geographic areas.

Many of the targets and indicators on the dashboard can be compiled within TableBuilder. Where this is possible, the dashboard provides the necessary ‘extraction’ details to compile data in TableBuilder according to the CtG specifications – see the ‘Target data Specifications’ or ‘Indicator data specifications’.

For assistance with sourcing small area data for Closing the Gap targets and indicators please contact the Commission via:

The Productivity Commission acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures, Country and Elders past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of people who have passed away.