Using geographical classification systems for health purposes has become increasingly important in describing the distribution of the health workforce and the population. The Department of Health began developing geographic systems for use in policy development in the mid 1990s and several systems have been used by the Department since then.
The Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas Classification (RRMA) is a geographic classification system developed in 1994, but which has gradually become out of date due to lack of updates of changing population data.
The Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) is a geographic classification developed in 1997 by the then Department of Health and Ageing to overcome identified short-comings with RRMA. It built in a protocol for mapping accessibility, based on the distance from major centres and the size of the local population. A more detailed protocol, ARIA+, has since been developed and is still widely used for health mapping. It was last updated in 2006.
The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (formerly ASG Classification) Remoteness Area (RA) was developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2001. It is updated periodically to reflect Census changes and so maintains currency.
For details, refer to http://www.abs.gov.au/geography
A further description of RRMA, ARIA(+) and ASGC Remoteness Areas, and a discussion of their strengths and weaknesses can be found at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467589.
The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs geographic classification (MCEETYA) is a geographic classification developed from 2001 and frequently used to describe metro/rural differences related to education and employment.
The Modified Monash Model (MMM) was developed by the Department of Health in 2015 to better target incentive payments for rural doctors. It is based on work by Humphreys and McGrail from Monash University using ASGS Remoteness areas, but then further subdividing regional Australia into four categories based on the size of the local town or city.
The MMM Map can be found here: http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/MMM_locator .
Other health mapping has been developed to reflect major changes in the way Government supports primary health care nationally:
- Local areas, based on Medicare Locals http://www.medicarelocals.gov.au/internet/medicarelocals/publishing.nsf/Content/ML-Locator#.Va2wcX9--M8
- Primary Health Networks http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/primary_Health_Networks
- Local Hospital Networks http://www.publichospitalfunding.gov.au/directory