New insights into Australia’s same-sex couples (Media Release)

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13 December 2017
Embargo: 11.30 am (Canberra time)
ABS reveals new Census insights into Australia’s same-sex couples

A newly released analysis of 2016 Census data reveals that there are just under 46,800 same-sex couples living together in Australia. This accounts for 0.9 per cent of all couples living together in Australia.

The 2016 Census figures are the highest on record, with the number of cohabitating same-sex couples increasing by 39 per cent since the 2011 Census, which counted 33,700 same-sex couples.

2016 Census Director Sue Taylor said that the latest figures reflect generational changes in the Australian community.

“Most of the increase in same-sex couples living together (86 per cent) was due to higher levels of reporting in people aged 20-39 at the time of the 2016 Census,” Ms Taylor said.

The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of same-sex couples in 2016 - 1.4 per cent of all couples. The next highest states/territories were New South Wales and Victoria. Almost two-thirds of same-sex couples (63 per cent) lived in NSW or Victoria.

Ms Taylor also pointed out that domestic work was more evenly shared between partners in same-sex couples.

“Partners did the same amount of unpaid domestic work in 57 per cent of female same-sex couples, 56 per cent of male same-sex couples and 39 per cent of opposite-sex couples,” Ms Taylor said.

“In opposite-sex couples, females did more unpaid domestic work than males in 54 per cent of couples, with males doing more domestic work than females in just 7.3 per cent of couples.”

Partners in same-sex couples (compared to partners in opposite-sex couples) were more likely in 2016 to:
    • have no religion (57 per cent for same-sex couples compared with 28 per cent for opposite-sex couples)
    • have a Bachelor degree or higher (45 per cent compared with 29 per cent)
    • be employed (84 per cent compared with 67 per cent)
    • have higher personal incomes (median weekly income of $1,175 compared with $843).

All of these insights and more are available in the newly released analytical article on same-sex couples in Australia.

Explanatory Notes
    • This data is limited only to two persons of the same sex who reported a de facto or married partnership in the Relationship in Household question, and who are usually residents in the same household. This data does not include those in same sex couples who are not usual residents of the same household, or those who didn't put themselves down as either de facto or married.
    • The Census does not measure sexual orientation.
    • Source: 2016 Census of Population and Housing
    • All numbers based on Place of Usual Residence