Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


A family is defined by the ABS as two or more people, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household.

Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family. Some households contain more than one family. Non-related people living in the same household are not counted as family members (unless under 15 years of age).

Other related individuals (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles) may be present in the household. If more than one family is present these people can only be associated with the primary family.

Visiting families are not included as part of the household, and the relationships of other visitors are not coded. A household containing only a visiting family (e.g. a family at a holiday home) is coded to a household type of visitors only.

Where all people present are aged under 15 years, or where information for each person has been imputed, the household is deemed not classifiable to a family. Of people listed as temporarily absent, only spouse(s) and family children are used in coding family composition.

For further information on families and grandparent families, see Understanding Family composition and Grandparent families

Family variables: The basic family classification is Family composition (FMCF). When classifying families, information about temporarily absent family members is used. Other family variables available are:

  • Count of all children in family (CACF)
  • Count of children aged under 15 temporarily absent (CDCAF)
  • Count of dependent children in family (CDCF)
  • Count of dependent children under 15 (CDCUF)
  • Count of dependent students (15-24 years) (CDSF)
  • 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 persons in family (CPRF)
  • Count of persons temporarily absent from family (CPAF)
  • Family household composition (HCFMF)
  • Grandparent families (FMGF)
  • Labour force status of parents/partners in families (LFSF)
  • Location of spouse (SPLF)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family indicator (INGF)
  • Spouse/partner indicator (SPIP)
  • Same-sex couple indicator (SSCF)

See also Child, Family blending (FBLF), Family composition (FMCF), Family/household reference person indicator (RPIP) and Relationship in household (RLHP).

First generation Australians

First generation Australians are people living in Australia who were born overseas. 

See also Country of birth of person (BPLP) and Understanding migrant statistics in the Census and other data sources.

Foster child

The term 'foster child' generally refers to a child being raised by an unrelated family in the absence of any natural, adoptive or step parent(s).

In practice, a person is coded to foster child if the response 'foster' is given for that person, regardless of the individual's dependency status.

The variables Child type (CTPP) and Relationship in household (RLHP) have foster child categories.

See also Child and Relationship in household (RLHP).

Back to top of the page