1338.1 - New South Wales in Focus, 2008 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/06/2008  Reissue
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Image: Family and Community

Family and Community – Summary Table
Data cubes with detailed statistics available on the Details Page


Families, community networks and interpersonal relationships are vital aspects of society, and essential to individual wellbeing. Most people in NSW (71%) live in households as members of a family unit. For many people the family is the main source of emotional, physical, financial care and support. In contemporary Australia, there is an increasing diversity of family situations, reflecting changing trends in family formation, dissolution and the caring role of families.

Families may be comprised of couples (with children of any age or without children), lone parents with children, or other families (i.e. families of related adults, such as brothers or sisters living together). The number of families in NSW grew from 1.72 million in 2000, to reach 1.90 million in 2007. Families with dependent children were the most common type of family, but have decreased in proportion from 50% to 48%. Couple only families increased from 35% to 37%, and one parent families remained steady at 11%. Since 2001, lone person households increased from 24% to 26%, due to a range of factors including delays in marriage, separations, divorces, and aging of the population.

Family types, NSW

Graph: Family Types, NSW

Child care

In 2005, more than half of all children aged 0–12 years in NSW (46%), received some type of child care. Since 2002, there has been an overall increase in the use of most forms of child care. Formal care increased for both children under 3 years old (up from 22% to 26%), and children aged 3–4 years (up from 41% to 46%). Informal care provided by relatives for children 0–2 years also increased during this time from 37% to 42%, and for children 3–4 years old it increased from 34% to 38%.

Child care, NSW2002 and 2005

Graph: Child care, nsw—2002 and 2005

Supporting children living elsewhere

Many people provide support to their own children living outside the household. In 2006, there were 485,400 people aged 18 years and over in NSW, who reported that their own children aged 0–24 years were living in another household. Over two thirds (68%) of these parents provided support to their children. Key forms of support provided include financial support, such as money for bills or debts (28%), clothing (26%), educational costs (25%), and child support payments (24%). Other forms of support included driving them to places (26%), and allowing them to borrow the car (12%).

Men were more likely than women to provide support for their own children aged 0–17 years living elsewhere (4.8% and 1.5% respectively), reflecting the greater number of children living apart from their father. Compared to other age groups, parents aged 45–54 years (16%) were most likely to provide support to their children 0–24 years living outside the household.

Provides support to own children living outside household(a), NSW 2006

Graph: Provides support to own children living outside household(a), nsw—2006

Community networks and voluntary work

Individual, family and community wellbeing can also be influenced by the strength and quality of engagements with wider social networks. While persons on low incomes and those born overseas with no proficiency in English had similar levels of contact with family and friends, overall they had a lower level of engagement with the wider community. They were less able to get support in a time of crisis, and had lower levels of participation in community groups, voluntary work, and other forms of unpaid informal assistance to persons living outside the house.

In 2006, many people aged 18 years and over in NSW provided support to the wider community through voluntary work (33%), unpaid informal assistance (45%), and by donating money (73%). While a similar proportion of men and women felt they were able to get support in a time of crisis, women reported a higher participation rate in other community support and social network activities compared with men.

Community support(a)(b), NSW2006

Graph: community support(a)(b), nsw—2006

Voluntary work and unpaid informal assistance(a)(b), NSW2006

Graph: Voluntary work and unpaid informal assistance(a)(b), nsw—2006

Family and Community – Summary Table
Data cubes with detailed statistics available on the Details Page