WHAT IS A FAMILY?
In this publication, a family is a group of two or more persons that are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who usually live together in the same household. This includes all families such as newlyweds without children, same-sex partners, 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.
There are three main types of families: couple families, one parent families, and other families.
- Couple families are based around a couple relationship between two persons who are either married or in a de facto partnership and usually resident 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 usually resident in the same household, but has at least one child usually resident 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 - that is just two persons living together in a couple relationship, one parent families necessarily include children.
- Other families are based around family relationships that are neither couple relationships nor parent-child relationships, such as a brother and sister living together without any dependants.
In some cases, a household will contain more than one family. For example, a single mother with a baby living with her parents forms two families in the one household. The parents are one family and the daughter and her baby form another family.
WHAT IS NOT A FAMILY?
Divorced or separated parents who live alone and have children who usually live elsewhere are classified as a lone person household and not a family in the ABS definition. Even though a parent-child relationship exists - they might even have custody each weekend - if the child usually lives elsewhere, the people are not classified as a family according to ABS definitions. People who live by themselves in one house while their parents live in a different house are treated the same way. Even though they are part
of a family, unless they live in the same household they don't form
a family for the purpose of these statistics. This is to reflect the usual living arrangements
of the household and ensure each person is only counted once.
Persons who aren't related or in a couple relationship and living in the same household, such as students sharing a flat, aren't considered to be a family unless one of the members of the household is under 15 years. In such cases, children under 15 years are considered to be dependent, so they form a child dependency relationship with the oldest member of a 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 are financially dependent on their parents.
Children aged over 15 years who are not full-time students are, for the purposes of defining a family, not considered dependent on their parents, even if they still live at home. It is also possible to have one parent families without dependants, (for example, an 80 year old woman living with her 55 year old daughter).
It's 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 don't.