6224.0.55.001 - Labour Force, Australia: Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families, June 2019 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/10/2019   
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What is a family?

In this publication, a family is defined as two related people who live in the same household. This includes all families such as couples with and without children, including same-sex couples, couples with dependants, single mothers or fathers with children, and siblings living together. At least one person in the family has to be 15 years or over. A household may contain more than one family.

Family composition


The primary relationships that define family units are couple relationships and parent-child relationships. From these, there are three main types of families: couple families, one parent families, and other families.

  • Couple families are based around two people in a couple relationship who usually live together in the same household. Couples can be same-sex or opposite-sex, and their dependants or children may also be members of the couple family if they all reside in the same household.
  • One parent families are based around a person who is not in a couple relationship with anyone who usually lives in the same household, but has at least one child who usually lives in the household regardless of the age of the child. These households can include other related individuals. While couple families can be made up of couples with or without children - one parent families necessarily include children.
  • Other families is defined as a group of other related individuals residing in the same household. These individuals do not form a couple or parent-child relationship with any other person in the household and are not related to any couple or one-parent families that might also be in the same household.

In some cases, a household will contain more than one family. Multi-generational households or households with many family members may be split into smaller family units. For example, a single mother with a baby living with her parents forms two families in the one household. The parents are one couple family and the daughter and her baby form one lone parent family.

What is not a family?


People who live alone or who live in households with non-relatives, such as students sharing a flat (with no couple relationships), are not considered to be in a family. Family members who usually live across different households are also not included. These statistics are intended to reflect families who usually live together in the same household.

There are special cases for when a child under 15 years old is living with non-relatives. In these cases, the child is considered to be dependent, so they form a child dependency relationship with the oldest member of the household (the family head), thereby forming a one parent family.

What is a dependant?


Families can be classed as having, or not having, dependants. There are two kinds of dependants:
  • children under 15 years, and
  • dependent students aged 15 to 24 years who are attending school or studying full-time at a tertiary education institution and living with their parents/guardians.

These children are considered to be financially dependent on the parent or parents that they usually live with, which is why they are referred to as 'dependants'. However, they have to be usually living in the same household; full-time students who have left home to study and live by themselves are not considered to be part of the family in that household, even if they remain financially dependent on their parents.

Children aged over 15 years who are not full-time students are not considered dependent on their parents, even if they still live at home. It is also possible to have one parent families without dependants, (such as, an 80 year old mother living with her 55 year old daughter).

It is important to consider whether children in a household are dependent on their parents when looking at these estimates, as the labour force characteristics will vary between families who have dependants and those that do not.