Latest release

Family composition (FMCF)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable classifies families into different family types. It uses a single family reference person and classifies each member around that person.

When classifying families into different types, information about temporarily absent family members is used.

This variable distinguishes between different types of families based on the presence or absence of couple relationships, parent-child relationships, child dependency relationships or other familial relationships, in that order of preference.

Scope

Families in family households

Categories

1Couple family with no children
 12Couple family with no children
  122Couple family with no children
   1222Couple family with no children
2Couple family with children
 21Couple family with children under 15
  211Couple family with children under 15 and dependent students
   2111Couple family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children
   2112Couple family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children
  212Couple family with children under 15 and no dependent students
   2121Couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
   2122Couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children
 22Couple family with no children under 15
  221Couple family with no children under 15 and with dependent students
   2211Couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and non-dependent children
   2212Couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and no non-dependent children
  222Couple family with no children under 15 and no dependent students
   2221Couple family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
3One parent family
 31One parent family with children under 15
  311One parent family with children under 15 and dependent students
   3111One parent family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children
   3112One parent family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children
  312One parent family with children under 15 and no dependent students
   3121One parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
   3122One parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children
 32One parent family with no children under 15
  321One parent family with no children under 15 and with dependent students
   3211One parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and non-dependent children
   3212One parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and no non-dependent children
  322One parent family with no children under 15 and no dependent students
   3221One parent family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
9Other family 
 92Other family 
  922Other family
   9222Other family
@@@@Not applicable   

Number of categories:

  • One digit level: 4
  • Two digit level: 6
  • Three digit level: 10
  • Four digit level: 17

Not applicable (@@@@) category comprises:

  • Non-family/Non-classifiable households
  • Unoccupied private dwellings
  • Non-private dwellings
  • Migratory, off-shore and shipping SA1s

Question(s) from the Census form

What is the person’s relationship to Person 1/Person 2?

    What is Person 2's relationship to Person 1?
    What is Person 2's relationship to Person 1?

    Examples of other relationships: Son-in-law, Grand-daughter, Uncle, Boarder.

    More information

    Husband or wife of Person 1

    De facto partner of Person 1

    Child of Person 1

    Stepchild of Person 1

    Brother or sister of Person 1

    Unrelated flatmate or co-tenant of Person 1

    Other relationship to Person 1 (please specify)

      More information

      Additional information relating to the question on: What is Person 2's relationship to Person 1?

      More information

      What is Person 2's relationship to Person 1?

      Examples of other relationships: Son-in-law, Grand-daughter, Uncle, Boarder.

      More information

      If more than one response applies, select only the option that shows the relationship that most closely applies.

      For each person away, complete the following questions:

      The Census asks a number of questions for usual residents who were temporarily absent on Census night, these are known as persons temporarily absent (PTA) questions. The PTA questions below are used to derive this variable.

        List the people who were away on the night of Tuesday 10 August 2021 but usually live in this dwelling.
        List the people who were away on the night of Tuesday 10 August 2021 but usually live in this dwelling.

        Remember that people listed here will need to complete a Census form for where they were in Australia on Census night.

        People away

        List Person Away 1 - Any person who usually lives in this dwelling, but was away.

        Add another person away

          Example

          Family composition example - Person 4 Surname

          Example

          List the people who were away on the night of Tuesday 10 August 2021 but usually live in this dwelling.

          Remember that people listed here will need to complete a Census form for where they were in Australia on Census night.

          People away

          Person 4 Surname - Any person who usually lives in this dwelling, but was away.

          Add another person away
            What is Person 4's date of birth?
            What is Person 4's date of birth?

            If date of birth is not known, please give age.

            More information

            Date of birth

            Day Month Year

            OR

            Age

              More information

              Additional information relating to the question on: What is Person 4's date of birth?

              More information

              What is Person 4's date of birth?

              If date of birth is not known, please give age.

              More information

              It is important to note:
              • Date of birth is the date that the person was born.
              • Age is required only if the person's date of birth is not known. Please report age at Census night – Tuesday 10 August 2021.

              If the person is less than one year old and their date of birth is not known, enter '0' in the age box.
                Is Person 4 a full-time student?
                Is Person 4 a full-time student?

                More information

                No

                Yes

                  More information

                  Additional information relating to the question on: Is Person 4 a full-time student?

                  More information

                  Is Person 4 a full-time student?

                  More information

                  Select 'Yes' if the institution considers the person to be a full-time student. Select 'No' if the institution considers the person to be a part-time student.

                  For a person who attends only hobby or recreational courses, select 'No'.

                  For a child who attends a preschool or preschool program (including early childhood education and centre based day care providers):
                  • Select 'Yes' if they attend at least 15 hours a week on average.
                  • Select 'No' if they attend less than 15 hours a week on average.
                    What is Person 4's relationship to Person 1/Person 2?
                    What is Person 4's relationship to Person 1/Person 2?

                    Examples of other relationships: Son-in-law, Grand-daughter, Uncle, Boarder.

                    More information

                    Husband or wife of Person 1

                    De facto partner of Person 1

                    Child of both Person 1 and Person 2

                    Child of Person 1 only

                    Child of Person 2 only

                    Unrelated flatmate or co-tenant of Person 1

                    Other relationship to Person 1 (please specify)

                      More information

                      Additional information relating to the question on: What is Person 4's relationship to Person 1/Person 2?

                      More information

                      What is Person 4's relationship to Person 1/Person 2?

                      Examples of other relationships: Son-in-law, Grand-daughter, Uncle, Boarder.

                      More information

                      If more than one response applies, select the option that shows the relationship that most closely applies.

                      How this variable is created

                      This variable is derived from the Relationship and persons temporarily absent questions on the Census form. During data processing, families are identified and created based around a ‘family reference person’, usually person 1 recorded on the Census form.

                      This variable distinguishes between different types of families based on the presence or absence of couple relationships, parent-child relationships, child dependency relationships or other family relationships, in that order of preference. Families are classified in terms of the relationships that exist between a single family reference person and each other member of that family.

                      Reporting relationships in respect of 'Person 1' on the form, can make it difficult to establish all the relationships that exist in a household, or to identify whether more than one family is living in the dwelling. In some cases, additional information such as surname, usual residence and marital status are used during data processing to help determine these relationships.

                      History and changes

                      This variable was first introduced in the 2006 Census to replace Family type (FMTF).

                      No changes have been made for 2021.

                      Data use considerations

                      Across the community, a wide variety of living arrangements exist therefore family structures can be complex and dynamic in nature. The quality of family data in the Census is dependent on people’s ability to describe these relationships with the usual residence in the household.

                      This variable relates only to the basic composition of a family and is the principle family variable used in family tabulations. Demographic characteristics of the different family compositions can be established with cross tabulation with:

                      Note: There is no provision for 'other related individuals' in second and third families.

                      If more than three families are found in a household, only three families are separately classified. Any other people are classified as either related family members or non-family members as appropriate and are attached to family one.

                      Related variables and glossary terms

                      Other ABS sources