Import/Catalogue/ABS Data

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Australian Bureau of Statistics


The data imported in to OpenStreetMap from the Australian Bureau of Statistics ( is attributed on the attribution page.


In September 2011, have given permission to incorporate geographic datasets from in the OpenStreetMap project database published under any free and open license, including ODbL, provided that:

  1. we provide primary attribution in a reasonable manner (currently the Attribution wiki page), and…
  2. that we explicitly list there each dataset used to give useful feedback within the Australian government on how folks are using open data.

Suburb Boundaries

The suburb boundaries are available in two formats, ESRI shapefiles or MapInfo Exchange Format.

Use of the data

The possibility of an automated import of suburb boundaries is still under occasional discussion on the Australian mailing list.

ABS data has been used to configure suburbs boundaries "manually" and the ABS suburb boundary data may be useful to align coastline, rivers, etc.

The suburb data is in some areas outdated - many new suburbs have been created, and many have be made obsolete since this data was compiled. In some areas it is grossly inaccurate. Where the suburb boundaries can be corrected or improved by other available sources in should be, and the source updated appropriately.

Bing or AGRI imagery is in many areas a considerably more accurate alignment of the coastline than ABS data. Similarly, these imagery sources are usually more accurate than ABS data for creeks and rivers when these are visible from imagery. Where the suburb is bounded by the coast, the boundary should be aligned to the most accurate source of data. This is rarely the ABS data.

Data Sets of Interest


In February 2009, the ABS gave permission for their data to be imported in to OpenStreetMap, and the 2006 suburb boundary and postcode boundary data was imported in largely raw form into OSM. During the 2012 licence change process the importer declined the new contributor terms, and the data was removed.

The data was used to align features, including large amounts of the Australian coastline.

Although much of the data was useful and well aligned, many of the imported regions (particulary, but not exclusively, outside of urban areas) did not correspond to current political or administrative boundaries. In places it was inaccurate or historical. There was never agreement within the community whether the boundaries represented purely the statistical regions that the ABS intended, or whether they were and aid for mapping features and political boundaries and should be relocated where they were incorrect or did not correspond actual suburbs, towns, coastline, or other features. Before the licence change there was some discussion on replacing the 2006 data with 2011 data. There was never any conclusion reached on whether this was achievable, or what would occur with data that had been modified.