4442.0 - Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2015   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Data on Family Characteristics and Transitions were collected as part of the 2012-13 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect annual statistics on a small number of self-contained topics.

The Family Characteristics and Transitions topic collects a range of information on household and family composition, along with demographic and labour force characteristics of persons within households and families. The type of information collected has a particular focus on families with children aged 0-17 years. For those families, additional information about family structures, the social marital status of parents, and contact arrangements for children with a natural parent living elsewhere is also provided. The family transitions part of the survey also provides information on persons aged over 18 years and their experiences with a number of topics such as; death and divorces of parents, leaving the family home, the forming of marital relationships, children born and expectations of having children in the future.

The main users of the data are the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Department of Social Services (DSS).


The Family Characteristics topic has been collected tri-annually since 1997. The content is largely repeated, which enables comparisons to be made over time. Data from the survey are released approximately 12 months after the completion of enumeration, however, for the 2012-13 data, it was released approximately 1.5 years after the completion of enumeration.


The LFS, and consequently the MPHS, is primarily designed to provide estimates for the whole of Australia and, secondly, for each state and territory.

Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error is the error associated with taking a sample of dwellings rather than going to all dwellings in Australia. In this publication, the sampling error is measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is the standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Non-sampling errors can occur in any data collection, whether based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers, and errors in coding or processing of data. Every effort is made to reduce the non–sampling error by careful design and testing of the questions, training of interviewers, follow-up of respondents and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.

Only estimates (numbers and proportions) with RSEs less than 25% are considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes. Estimates with RSEs between 25% and 50% have been included and are annotated to indicate they are subject to high sample variability and should be used with caution. In addition, estimates with RSEs greater than 50% have also been included and annotated to indicate they are considered too unreliable for general use.


The Family Characteristics topic was previously collected in 1997, 2003, 2006-07 and 2009-10. While there have been small changes each cycle, overall the data is generally comparable. The 2012-13 Family Characteristics and Transitions topic includes the family transitions topics which were last included in the 2006-07 survey, however, it does not include the child support topic which was included in the 2009-10 survey. For further information about changes between iterations of the survey, please refer to the Explanatory Notes.


Further information on the technical aspects (including item definitions) associated with the statistics from the 2012-13 Family Characteristics and Transitions topic can be found in the Explanatory Notes, Technical Note and Glossary associated with this release.


All tables and associated RSEs are available in Excel spreadsheets which can be accessed from the Downloads tab.

Additional tables may also be available on request. The Downloads tab also includes an Excel spreadsheet containing a complete list of the data items available. Note that detailed data can be subject to high RSEs and, in some cases, may result in data being confidentialised.

In addition to the data available in the Excel spreadsheets, other tables will be able to be produced using TableBuilder, an online tool for creating tables and graphs. TableBuilder for the 2012–13 Family Characteristics and Transitions topic is expected to be available in the first half of 2015.

For further information about these or related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.