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The Family Characteristics topic provides data about families, including couples living in de facto and registered marriages, step and blended families, one parent families and visiting arrangements of children with parents who live elsewhere (refer to the Glossary for definitions of these terms). It provides information about the composition of households and families, and the characteristics of people within them, to better understand how families are changing and how to provide support to them.
The information provided in this topic will be of value to policy makers, researchers and demographers who are interested in understanding changes to family composition.
In 2012-13, there were 8.9 million households in Australia. Just under three quarters (74%) were family households, 23% were lone person households, and 3% were group households (Table 1).
Most Australians (20.1 million people, or 88% of the Australian population living in private dwellings) were living in family households. The vast majority of families lived in households that contained only one family (96% of all family households in 2012-13) (Table 1).
Around 2.1 million people lived alone, 1.1 million females and 1.0 million males (or 9% of the Australian population living in private dwellings). The proportion of lone person households was very similar to that in 2009-10, however it had decreased to 23% from 25% in 2006-07 (Table 1).
The proportion of people living in group households remained steady (Table 1).
Of the 6.7 million families in Australia in 2012-13, 85% (5.7 million) were couple families, 14% (909,000) were one parent families and 2% (107,000) were other families (Table 1) (refer to the Glossary for definitions of these terms).
Families with resident children of any age made up 58% (3.9 million) of all families in 2012-13. Of these families, 78% had dependent children, while 22% had non-dependent children only. There were 2.8 million families with at least one child aged 0 to 17 years (41% of all families) (Table 1).
There were 1.2 million families where the youngest child was aged under 5 years. There were more couple families with resident children of any age (3.0 million families) than couple families without children of any age (2.7 million families). The proportion of couple families both with and without children of any age remained relatively stable since 2006-07 (Tables 8 and 1).
While the proportion of couple families without resident children remained stable since 2006-07, the composition of these families changed. There was a higher proportion of couples without children where the female partner was aged 25 to 34 years in 2012-13 than in 2006-07 (20% compared with 16%), and a lower proportion where the female partner was aged 45 to 54 years (13% in 2012-13 compared with 15% in 2006-07) (Tables 1 and 4).
One parent families with resident children of any age represented 14% of all families in 2012-13, which was the same as in 2009-10 and 2006-07 (Table 1).
The following diagram displays the relationship between family composition groupings of key household, family and person estimates.
Of all families in 2012-13 with resident children aged 0 to 17 years (2.8 million), 81% were couple families and 19% were one parent families. The proportion of couple and one parent families stayed relatively stable since 2006-07 (Table 8).
One parent families were predominately lone mother families (16% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years) rather than lone father families (3% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years). Again, this proportion of lone mother and lone father families stayed relatively stable since 2006-07 (Table 8).
Of all couple families with resident children (including both dependent and non-dependent children), couple families where the youngest child was aged 0 to 4 years made up the highest proportion (34%). In contrast, the youngest child was 0 to 4 years in 16% of one parent families. The highest proportion of one parent families comprised those where the youngest resident child was aged 25 years and over (23%), compared with 9% of couple families for the same age group (Table 4).
Source(s): Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, 2012–13
EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF PARENTS
Just over 3.4 million children of any age (48%) lived in couple families where both parents were employed. Of these children, 42% lived in families where their mother was employed full-time, compared with 58% in families where their mother was employed part-time (Table 7).
Of all dependent children, 2.8 million (51%) lived in couple families where both parents were employed. Around 869,000 dependent children lived in lone mother families while 143,000 lived in lone father families. Of the dependent children in these one parent families, just over half (54%) had an employed parent (Table 7).
There were 676,000 dependent children (12% of all dependent children) living in families without an employed resident parent, although in some cases, other people in these families were employed. There were 562,000 dependent children (10% of all dependent children) living in a family where no one was employed (Table 7).
CHILDREN WITH PARENTS LIVING ELSEWHERE
Of the 5.2 million children aged 0 to 17 years in 2012-13, 1.1 million (21%) had a natural parent living elsewhere. Of these children, 75% lived in one parent families, 10% in step families and 12% in blended families. Children were more likely to live with their mother than their father after parents separated. Of these children who had a natural parent living elsewhere, almost four in five (79%) had a father living elsewhere (Table 9).
Forty five per cent of children aged 0 to 17 years with a natural parent living elsewhere (501,000) saw this parent at least once per fortnight in 2012-13, while 26% rarely saw them (less than once per year or never). The pattern of regular contact that children had with their natural parent living elsewhere remained relatively stable over time, with just under half having contact at least once per fortnight (43% in 2006-07, 48% in 2009-10 and 45% in 2012-13). The proportion of children who rarely had contact with their natural parent living elsewhere (less than once per year or never) remained relatively stable over time as well (28% in 2006-07, 24% in 2009-10 and 26% in 2012-13) (Table 10).
As children aged, the likelihood of having at least fortnightly contact with their natural parent living elsewhere decreased. In 2012-13, 54% of children aged 0 to 9 years, 43% of children aged 10 to 14 years and 35% of children aged 15 to 17 years saw their natural parent living elsewhere at least once a fortnight (Graph 2 and Table 10).
Source(s): Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia
Nearly half (48%) of children aged 5 to 14 years with a natural parent living elsewhere stayed overnight with that parent at least once per year. The proportions were lower both for younger children aged 0 to 4 years (34%) and for older children aged 15 to 17 years (36%) (Table 10).
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