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Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


Caravans that are occupied are usually treated as private dwellings. This includes caravans and campervans that are located on: 

  • caravan or residential parks
  • camping grounds
  • roadsides or open land.

Caravans on residential allotments are also usually treated as an occupied private dwelling. The exception to this is where there are one or more other structures on the allotment and the occupants of the caravan are residents of the main dwelling. In this case the occupants are all classed as one household and the caravan is counted as an additional room of the main dwelling. 

See also Dwelling type (DWTD), Dwelling structure (STRD).

Census and Statistics Act 1905

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA) provides the Australian Statistician with the authority to conduct statistical collections, including the Census of Population and Housing, and, when necessary, to direct a person to provide statistical information.

See also Legislative framework and Confidentiality.

Census counts

The Census counts people where they were located on Census Night and this count of the population is referred to as the place of enumeration count. A count of the population based on their place of usual residence is also available. In censuses prior to 2006, many of the Census products presented data on a place of enumeration basis. Since 2006, the focus has been on place of usual residence.

Census counts by place of usual residence:

  • exclude overseas visitors 
  • exclude Australian residents temporarily overseas.

The variables Family composition (FMCF) and Household composition (HHCD) are coded on a place of usual residence basis rather than a place of enumeration basis. All visitors to dwellings are excluded when coding these variables. Usual residents who are reported as 'temporarily absent' are included in the coding of Family composition (FMCF) and Household composition (HHCD).

See also Estimated resident population (ERP), Household, Place of enumeration, Place of usual residence (PURP), and Usual residence.

Census date

The date of the 2021 Census was Tuesday 10 August 2021.

Census time capsule

From the 2001 Census, the Census form has included an optional question asking whether each person in the household agrees to have their personally identified information kept and securely held by the National Archives of Australia for 99 years. This personally-identified Census information will not be available for any purpose (including to courts and tribunals) within the 99 year closed access period and cannot be accessed, altered or retrieved before that time.

After 99 years, the name identified data will be made public for future generations. The first batch of such information, from the 2001 Census, will be publicly available in 2100. Those accessing the information could include genealogists, historians, social analysts and other researchers in the 22nd century.

Unlike other questions, the Census time capsule question on the form does not relate to a specific Census topic and is not listed in the Census Regulations, with other topics. Rather, the Census time capsule was made possible by an amendment to the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

See also Confidentiality and Name and address retention.


This is a person of any age who is a natural, adopted, step, foster or nominal son or daughter of a couple or lone parent, usually resident in the same household. A child is also any individual under 15, usually resident in the household, who forms a parent-child relationship with another member of the household. This includes otherwise related children less than 15 years of age and unrelated children less than 15 years of age.

In order to be classified as a child, the person can have no identified partner or child of their own usually resident in the household. A separate family in the household is formed in this instance. If a person is aged under 15 and has a partner and/or a spouse these relationships are not recorded.

There are three types of children identified by the Relationship in household (RLHP) variable:

  • child under 15
  • dependent student
  • non-dependent child.

Variables relevant to children are:

  • Child type (CTPP)
  • Count of all children in family (CACF)
  • Count of dependent children aged under 15 temporarily absent (CDCAF)
  • Count of dependent children in family (CDCF)
  • Count of dependent students (15-24 years) temporarily absent (CDSAF)
  • Count of non-dependent children in family (CNDCF)
  • Count of non-dependent children temporarily absent (CNDAF)
  • Count of children with selected long-term health condition(s) in household (CCLTHD)
  • Count of dependent children under 15 (CDCUF)
  • Count of dependent students (15-24 years) (CDSF)
  • Child type (including grandchildren) (CTGP)

Characteristics of children or parents who were temporarily absent on Census Night are not available.


Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, the personal information you provide in the Census remains strictly confidential to the ABS. The ABS never has and never will release identifiable Census data. Other organisations, including government departments and marketing companies, cannot have access to personal information you provide on your Census form. 

For more information refer to the 2021 Census Privacy Statement.

See also Census time capsule, Introduced random error/perturbation and Name and address retention.

Contributing family worker

A person who works without pay, in an economic enterprise operated by a relative.

See also Labour force status (LFSP) and Status in employment (SIEMP).

Couple family

A couple family is identified by the existence of a couple relationship. A couple relationship is defined as two people usually residing in the same household who share a social, economic and emotional bond usually associated with marriage and who consider their relationship to be a marriage or marriage-like union. This relationship is identified by the presence of a registered marriage or de facto marriage. A couple family can be with or without children, and may or may not include other related individuals. A couple family with children present can be expanded to elaborate on the characteristics of those children, such as their number, age and dependency status.

See also Family blending (FBLF), Family composition (FMCF), Marital status, Relationship in household (RLHP) and Same-sex couple.

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