Family Characteristics Survey

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    FC97 was a supplementary survey to the Monthly Population Survey collected by the Family Statistics Unit, Welfare Section. It was designed after consultation with key stakeholders who meet on a regular basis as the national Family Statistics User Advisory Group (FSUAG). In response to this group, ABS agreed to conduct the first national survey of child support and visiting arrangements.


    The purpose of FC97 was to update ABS data on families and households composition. In particular examine exchanges between children and parent who live apart, most often as a consequence of marriage or relationship breakdown.


    The FC97 was conducted as a supplement to the Monthly Population Survey (MPS) which is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 30,000 houses flats, etc.) and a list-sample of non-private dwellings (hospitals, hotels, etc.). The MPS is described more fully in Labour Force, Australia (ABS Cat No. 6203.0)


    Conceptual framework

    The FC97 collected detailed information on household and family structure consistent with the conceptual framework described in Standards for Statistics on the Family ABS Cat No. 1286.0). In particular, the FC97 collected information on registered and social marital status and family blending.

    Family coding output from FC97 was consistent with ABS standards on family coding, particular with regards to definitions of dependency for children aged 0-24. In addition, the FC97 output data on all families with children aged 0-17 irrespective of their dependency status, this was done to reflect the United Nations definitions of a child. Family blending was only collected for families with children aged 0-17.

    Child support and visiting arrangements were collected from families most likely to be affected by these arrangements, namely families with children aged 0-17 who were living with one natural parent but had another natural parent living elsewhere.

    The FC97 collected info on visiting and care arrangements consistent with the Department of Social Security. A child was in shared care if the child was in care of each of his/her natural parents at least 30% of the time, otherwise the child was considered to be in sole care.

    Information on child support arrangements were consistent with definitions used by the Child Support Agency in the Australian Taxation Office. The FC97 asked whether the Child Support Agency was involved in determining the child support arrangements and/or in making child support payments.

    Main outputs

    All persons: Basic demographics, household composition and structure.

    Children aged 0-17 with a natural parent living elsewhere: Their visiting and care arrangements with the parent living apart.

    Families with a child with a natural parent living elsewhere: Whether the family received child support (cash, in-kind, no child support received)

    Family level data: Support for and by families is not necessarily confined to a single household. However, output of family level data are based on a single household family concept. The main area of interest for this survey is at the family level. Data items relate to:

    • Family structure/household structure.
    • Marital status of couples/lone parents.
    • Main sources of personal and parental income.
    • Educational attainment of parents and children over the age of 15.
    • Labour force status of parents and children over the age of 15.
    • Child support (cash, in-kind) paid by the parent living elsewhere.


    Classifications reflect ABS standards on Families, country of birth, occupation and industry.

    Other concepts (summary)

    Concepts relating to visiting and child support arrangements are described in the glossary see doclink below. For concepts relating to Family classifications see Standards for Statistics on the Family (ABS Cat No. 1286.0).

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Division
    Statistical Subdivision
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    See Scope above for Geographic scope exclusions


    Frequency comments

    Frequency unknown at present. The next survey is proposed for 2000.



    Data availability comments

    Data from the survey is published in Family Characteristics, Australia, April 1997 (ABS Cat No.4442.0).

    06/06/2002 12:12 PM