The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) developed the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) for use in the collection, storage and dissemination of all Australian statistical and administrative data relating to the languages spoken in Australia. The classification was a response to wide community interest in the language usage of the Australian population and the consequent need to provide quality and consistent statistical and administrative data on this topic. It was first published in 1997.
The ABS has used, and will continue to use, the ASCL in its own statistical work, for example, in classifying language data from the Censuses of Population and Housing. The ABS urges the use of the ASCL by other government agencies, community groups, and academic and private sector organisations collecting, analysing, or using information relating to language usage in Australia. This will improve the quality and comparability of data from all sources.
This Second Edition (2005 revision) of the classification is part of a periodical review process that aims to reflect changes to Australia's language profile. The review also enabled improvements to the classification in terms of language coverage (particularly for Australian Indigenous Languages) and the grouping of certain languages.
Development of the classification and its review involved extensive consultation with users and producers of language data, academics and experts, and ethnic and community groups. The assistance and efforts of the numerous organisations and individuals who provided information and advice, and otherwise contributed to the consultation process, is gratefully acknowledged.