1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
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Family and Community Statistics Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 5742


The Family Characteristics and Transitions Survey (FCTS) is a combination of two Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) topics which supplement the Monthly Population Survey; the Family Characteristics Survey (FCS) and the Family Transitions and History Survey (FTHS). Results from these are published together in the ABS publication Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, June 2006-07 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0).

The FCS collects details on household and family composition including demographics, labour force status, and family type. A particular focus of the survey is families with children aged 0-17 years. Additional information collected within this topic includes information about family structure, the social marital status of the parents, parental income and contact arrangements for children with non-resident parents.

The FTHS builds on the information collected in the FCS, collecting information on couple relationship history, relationship expectations, children ever born, reasons for leaving home and fertility expectations. Five sub-topics of the FTHS have been collected previously in other surveys: Relationship history, Parental transitions, Leaving home, Children ever born, and Fertility expectations. For more information on FTHS comparability with previous surveys see the 'Explanatory Notes' tab of Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, June 2006-07 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0).


This survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded people living in very remote parts of Australia. It also excluded the following:

  • Households where at least one person was a member in the Australian permanent defence forces
  • Members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia, and their dependants
  • Diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, and their dependants, excluded from censuses and surveys of Australian residents
  • People living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes such as retirement homes and homes for people with disabilities, and inmates of prisons.

Reference Period

Following the financial year cycle of the MPHS, the FCS and FTHS were conducted between July 2006 to June 2007, excluding the months of August and September when the 2006 Census of Population and Housing was conducted.

Frequency of Collection

This is an irregular survey. The ABS plans to repeat the FCS three yearly as part of MPHS. It will next be collected in 2009-10. The FTHS will be collected 6 yearly and will next be collected in 2012-13.

Method of collection

ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews by either telephone or at selected dwellings. Each month a sample of dwellings was selected for the MPHS from the responding households in the last rotation group for the MPS. In these dwellings, after the MPS had been fully completed for each person, a usual resident aged 15 years and over was selected at random and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. Information was collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer.

The Family Characteristics topic collected information from the randomly selected person about the household and about every person in the household, including all children in the household. The Family Transitions and History topic questions were only asked about the randomly selected persons aged 18 years and over, with some sub-topics having additional age restrictions.


Release schedule

Publications related to each of the selected topic, will usually be available within six months of completion of data collection.


Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, June 2006-07 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0)
Family Characteristics Survey, Australia, Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File: Technical Manual, 2006-07 (ABS cat.no. 4442.0.55.002)


Data are available for Australia, state and territory, and capital city/balance of state (excluding territories).

Data Service

Customised tables are available on request, as a charged service. State and territory tables are also available.

Family Characteristics Survey, Australia, Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File, 2006-07 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0.55.001)


Data items are available at both person and family level, with some data items available at the household level. Variables include standard labour force items, basic demographics and socio-economic characteristics. Data items about families cover: family structure and life cycle stage, number of dependent children by age group, children with a natural parent living elsewhere, age and marital status of parents/partners.


Marital status
Country of birth and year of arrival
State or territory of usual residence
Remoteness index

Region of usual residence
Household composition

Whether attending school

Whether a full time student
Level of highest non-school qualification
Field of highest non-school qualification
Age and whether attending an educational institution
Highest year of school completed

Historical Data

The 2006-07 FCS was the fifth survey on the topic of family composition. Family Surveys were conducted by the ABS in 1982 ('Families Survey') and 1992 ('Survey of Families in Australia'), and previous FCSs were conducted in both 1997 and 2003. The Family Surveys, and to a lesser extent the 1997 FCS, differed from the 2003 and 2006-07 FCS in some areas. Nevertheless, these differences do not preclude useful comparisons between them for certain data items. For more detail on differences over time, see the Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia 2006-07 Explanatory Notes.