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Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia

The Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) provides a pharmacy specific measurement of remoteness for over 13,000 localities around Australia. The PhARIA classification described here covers the 2016-2017 index and is current for the period 1 July 2016 until 30 June 2017.


PhARIA was designed to provide a comprehensive, standardised measurement of the geographic and professional remoteness of pharmacies throughout Australia, for use in the determination of rural and remote pharmacy allowances.

The concept of remoteness used in this analysis, which draws on previous work undertaken by the (then) Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and GISCA, quantified geographic remoteness based on the road distance people have to travel to reach a range of services. This work resulted in the development of the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA). More detail about the ARIA index is available on the ARIA and Accessibility webpage.

The Pharmacy ARIA is a composite index, which incorporates measurements of geographic remoteness, as represented by ARIA+, with a professional isolation component represented by the road distance to the five (5) closest pharmacies. The location of over 13,000 populated localities were used in the development of this index.

Within the index, spatial rules have been applied to ensure that anomalies do not occur in the treatment of areas closely surrounding urban centres. These apply a ‘buffer zone’ around a centre so that any location falling within that zone will receive the same index as that centre. This zone consists of a 30 km radius around the external boundary of major centres (greater than 250,000 population), and a 10 km radius around the external boundary of remaining population centres with a population of 18,000 or more.

A further refinement was included to ensure that all urban centres with a large number of existing pharmacies were classified as highly accessible. This "8 pharmacy rule" provides that centres with 8 or more pharmacies are reclassified into Category 1 regardless of their location.

Pharmacy ARIA Categories

The index results, ranging from 0 (high accessibility) to 12 (high remoteness), have been divided into a 6 category classification system as follows:

Category Index Accessibility/Remoteness
Category 1 0 - 1 Highly Accessible
Category 2 >1 - 2 Accessible (Group A)
Category 3 >2 - 4 Accessible (Group B)
Category 4 >4 - 6 Moderately Accessible
Category 5 >6 - 9 Remote
Category 6 >9 - 12 Very Remote

The index provides an objective basis for rural and remote payment arrangements as well as being a useful analytical and policy tool which could aid the further analysis of the provision of pharmacy services in remote areas.

Information on Start-up, Succession and Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowances can be obtained from the Pharmacy Agreement section of the Medicare Australia Website.

Other Pharmacy ARIA links

Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research

School of Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts
Napier Building
The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005


+61 8 8313 5646

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