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WHAT IS A FAMILY?
In some cases, a household will contain more than one family. For example, a single mother with a baby living with her parents forms two families in the one household. The parents are one family and the daughter and her baby form another family.
WHAT IS NOT A FAMILY?
Divorced or separated parents who live alone and have children who usually live elsewhere are classified as a lone person household and not a family in the ABS definition. Even though a parent-child relationship exists - they might even have custody each weekend - if the child usually lives elsewhere, the people are not classified as a family according to ABS definitions. People who live by themselves in one house while their parents live in a different house are treated the same way. Even though they are part of a family, unless they live in the same household they don't form a family for the purpose of these statistics. This is to reflect the usual living arrangements of the household and ensure each person is only counted once.
Persons who aren't related or in a couple relationship and living in the same household, such as students sharing a flat, aren't considered to be a family unless one of the members of the household is under 15 years. In such cases, children under 15 years are considered to be dependent, so they form a child dependency relationship with the oldest member of a household (the family head), thereby forming a one parent family.
WHAT IS A DEPENDANT?
Families can be classed as having, or not having, dependants. There are two kinds of dependants: children under 15 years, and dependent students aged 15 to 24 years who are attending school or studying full-time at a tertiary education institution and living with their parents/guardians. These children are considered to be financially dependent on the parent or parents that they usually live with, which is why they are referred to as 'dependants'. However, they have to be usually living in the same household; full-time students who have left home to study and live by themselves are not considered to be part of the family in that household, even if they are financially dependent on their parents.
Children aged over 15 years who are not full-time students are, for the purposes of defining a family, not considered dependent on their parents, even if they still live at home. It is also possible to have one parent families without dependants, (for example, an 80 year old woman living with her 55 year old daughter).
It's important to consider whether children in a household are dependent on their parents when looking at these estimates, as the labour force characteristics will vary between families who have dependants and those that don't.
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