4119.0 - Children, Australia: A Social Report, 1999  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/1999   
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February 25, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

ABS report profiles Australia's children

Australia's children are generally healthy, staying more years at school, living in 'nuclear' families and likely to be in homes that are owned or being purchased by their parents. These and other characteristics are monitored in a new report about children aged 0-17 and their families released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

At the same time, 16% of children aged 0-17 are affected by asthma; participation in education declines between the ages of 15 and 17; and only 26% of Indigenous families with children own or are purchasing the home in which they live, compared with 69% for all families with children.

The vast majority (94%) of children live with at least one of their parents. However, children were more likely to have parents who were in a de facto relationship or to be living in one-parent families in 1996 than they were ten years previously. Around 9% of children who lived with parents also had relatives, particularly grandparents, or non-relatives living with them.

One million children (21% of all children) had one natural parent living outside their household, usually as a consequence of marriage or relationship breakdown.

More than 50,000 children were affected by the divorce of their parents during 1997. Although the annual number of divorces rose from 39,700 to 51,300 between 1987 and 1997, the proportion involving children fell from 59% to 54% of all divorces.

Other information contained in this report includes:

  • Children comprised 34% of the total population in 1971 but this had declined to 25% in 1997. The decline is expected to continue into the next century. From around 2020, for the first time, children are projected to form a smaller proportion of the population than people aged 60 years and over;
  • The number of Indigenous children increased by 12% between 1991 and 1996, compared with 2% for the total number of children;
  • Australia's infant mortality rate has shown a continuing and appreciable decline during this century, and in more recent years fell from 17 per 1,000 live births in 1971 to 5.3 in 1997; and
  • Almost half (48%) of deaths of children aged 1 to 17 years in 1997 were attributable to accidents or injury, particularly motor vehicle accidents and drowning.

Further details are in Children, Australia: A Social Report (cat. no. 4119.0) available in ABS bookshops in all capital cities. A summary of the main features of the publication may be found on this site.