2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Topic Directions, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2018   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


Further information from the public consultation phase can be found here: Households and families

TopicsProposed actions

Household and family relationshipsRetain existing topics, with change to be tested. Current methods for analysing relationships in a household will be reviewed to identify ways to better represent diverse family structures and improve alignment with user requirements.
Registered marital statusRetain existing topic without change.
Persons temporarily absent on Census nightRetain existing topics, with minor change to be tested. The questions related to persons temporarily absent will be updated in line with other topic changes.
Shared care of children (NEW)Moderate case for new topic. Will discuss with key stakeholders to confirm key concepts to be included. Questions will be developed and tested.


Submissions received from all levels of government as well as community and academic groups highlighted the need to review and contemporise the way the Census captures data about families. Improvements in reporting of multigenerational family households; blended families; kinship care; shared care arrangements for children; and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and/or Intersex (LGBTI) household relationships were suggested.

Next steps include a review of the ways the ABS analyses and processes data on relationships to identify changes that would be required to reflect a more diverse range of household and family structures.

The ABS will review international approaches and test options for changes to questions, instructions or guidance that improve the relevance of family data.


The current Census questions about people temporarily absent from the household include name, sex, date of birth or age, student status, relationship to others in the household and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.

This detail is important to determine the usual household composition. It supports accurate identification of the number of children or dependents, number of students, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households.

Few submissions addressed this topic. However, questions may need to be amended to reflect any changes in other topics that would be relevant, for example sex/gender and household and family relationships.


Some submissions identified a need for better information on children that live across multiple households as part of shared care arrangements. Submissions identified that there is no data captured which specifically identifies shared care arrangements or the amount of time spent in each household.

This information would inform understanding of economic consequences and potential disadvantage in shared care arrangements. While there is some survey data available, it does not provide sufficient geographic or socio-economic detail. Having specific information collected on the Census would inform policy development and the delivery of services to affected families.

The next steps will include testing options to capture details of shared care arrangements and will leverage off reviews of other topics, including household and family relationships and persons temporarily absent. These are complex topics with a lot of detail derived from a small number of questions. Changes will be considered within the context of additional burden on respondents and operational complexity.

Back to top of the page