2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
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Temporarily Absent People

Unlike surveys which immediately capture and code the family usually resident in a dwelling whether all members are present at the time of the survey or not, the Census only captures information on those who were present in the household on Census night (see the below screen shots from the Census paper form). To help make sense of the kind of family or household that usually lives in the specific dwelling, there is an option for up to three temporarily absent members of the household to be recorded on the back of the Census form.

Only very basic information is captured about these people (age, sex, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait origin, relationship to Person One and if they are a current student), but this is enough information to help code the actual family and household composition of that dwelling more accurately.

image: question 52 on the census form: Were any people away on the night of Tuesday 9 August 2016 who usually live in this dwelling?

image: Question 53 on the Census form - for each person away, complete the following questions

There are six 'temporarily absent' variables that are available for output. Five relate to different kinds of people absent for the family, and one is used to count the number of people absent from the dwelling.

Absent from Family

  • CNDAF – Count of Non-Dependent Children Temporarily Absent
  • CDSAF – Count of Dependent Student (15-24) Temporarily Absent
  • CDCAF – Count of Dependent Children Under 15 Temporarily Absent
  • CPAF – Count of Persons Temporarily Absent from Family
  • SPLF – Location of Spouse

Absent from Dwelling
  • CPAD – Count of Persons Temporarily Absent from Household

Examples

Here are some examples of how information on temporarily absent people can impact on data.

Example 1: The location of spouse (SPLF) is temporarily absent.

Image: male and 2 children inside the house, female outside of the house

Instead of Family Composition for this household being recorded as a ‘Lone parent family’, the information on the back of the form about the temporarily absent spouse allows the family to be coded as a ‘Couple family with children’. The Household Composition remains as ‘One family household’. The count of people temporarily absent from the family (CPAF) and the household (CPAD) is one.


Example 2: Unrelated and absent individuals

Image: one person living in the dwelling, two people away from the dwelling

Instead of Household Composition for this household being recorded as a ‘Lone person household’, the information on the back of the form allows the household to be coded as a ‘Group household’. The count of people temporarily absent from the household (CPAD) is two. Counts of persons absent from the family are not applicable for this household because it is not a family household.


Example 3: Multiple family household, with family members temporarily absent


Image: 3 families in the household on Census night, 3 people away.

Using the relevant variables, and the information available for the three temporarily absent persons, we can determine the following information about the families in this dwelling. The numbers in the diagram are Family Numbers (FNOF), as determined by information provided by respondents and coding rules.

HHCD Household Composition: Three Family Household
CPAD Count of Persons Temporarily Absent from Household: Three persons temporarily absent from household

Family number 1
(FNOF = 1)
Family number 2
(FNOF = 2)
Family number 3
(FNOF = 3)
FMCF Family Composition
Couple Family without children
Couple Family with children under 15, (no students or non-dependents)
Lone parent family with children under 15, (no students or non-dependents)
CPAF Count of Persons Temporarily Absent From Family
One person temporarily absent from family
Two persons temporarily absent from family
No persons temporarily absent from family
SPLF Location of Spouse
Temporarily Absent
Temporarily Absent
N/A
CNDAF Count of Non-Dependent Children Temporarily Absent
N/A
One dependent child under 15 years temporarily absent
N/A
CDCAF Count of Dependent Children Under 15 Years Temporarily Absent
N/A
N/A
N/A
CDSAF Count of Dependent Students (15-24 years) Temporarily Absent
N/A
N/A
N/A


Why are 'temporarily absent' variables necessary?

There are three main reasons for collecting data on persons who are temporarily absent from the household on Census night:
  1. Greater accuracy in coding families and households;
  2. Counting the number of usual residents per household, and
  3. Performing calculations such as the average number of persons per household.


Place of Usual Residence

It is a common misconception that ‘Place of Usual Residence’ means that people who are visitors on Census night are placed back in their usual dwelling during processing. This is not true. ‘Place of Usual Residence’ only refers to the geographical area in which each individual person usually lives. They are not linked back to their individual household. Someone must be a usual resident of the household in which they were enumerated for family and household characteristics to be established. If everyone in the household were visitors they would be coded as a ‘Visitor only household’ regardless of any family relationships, and no family relationships would be recorded for them. Similarly, they would all be absent from their usual address on Census night, and their dwelling would be coded as an ‘Unoccupied private dwelling’. Please see Place of Enumeration vs Place of Usual Residence for further information.

The Census also relies on people to fill in information on temporarily absent people to establish the number and type of ‘usual residents’ in any one household.