Relationship in household (RLHP)

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


This variable describes the relationship of each person in a family to the family reference person. Where a person is not part of a family, that person's relationship to the household reference person is captured. This is a key variable which enables Census data for people in private dwellings to be output on a family and household basis as well as on a person basis.


Persons present in the household on Census Night


Husband, Wife or Partner
12In a registered marriage, opposite-sex couple
13In a registered marriage, male same-sex couple
14In a registered marriage, female same-sex couple
15In de facto marriage, opposite-sex couple
17In de facto marriage, male same-sex couple
18In de facto marriage, female same-sex couple
Lone parent
21Lone parent
Child under 15
31Natural or adopted child under 15
32Step child under 15
33Foster child under 15
34Grandchild under 15
35Otherwise related child under 15
36Unrelated child under 15
Dependent student
41Natural or adopted dependent student
42Student step child
43Student foster child
Non-dependent child
51Non-dependent natural, or adopted child
52Non-dependent step child
53Non-dependent foster child
Other related individual
63Non-dependent grandchild
69Other related individual (nec)
Non-family member
71Unrelated individual living in family household
72Group household member
73Lone person
91Visitor (from within Australia)
99Other non-classifiable relationship
Supplementary Codes
@@Not applicable
VVOverseas visitor

Number of categories: 34

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Persons in non-private dwellings
  • Persons in migratory, off-shore or shipping SA1s

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

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

What is the person's date of birth and age?

Is the person: Male; Female; Non-binary sex

Is the person attending a school or other education institution?

How this variable is created

This variable is derived from the relationship in household, sex, age and full-time/part-time student questions on the Census form. Persons temporarily absent on Census Night are also taken into consideration when deriving this variable. This helps with the identification of some families and for distinguishing between lone person and group households.

During data processing, families are identified and created based around a ‘family reference person’. For cases where a child or non-family member was listed as Person 1, a more appropriate person is selected to be the reference person.

Sex (SEXP) is used to determine whether the person is in a same-sex or opposite-sex registered marriage or de facto marriage.

Age (AGEP) and Student status (STUP) information is used to determine what type of child the person is:

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

Children classifications

Dependent children are classified if they:

  • form a parent child relationship and are 0-14 years of age
  • are 15-24 years of age and a full-time student (in secondary or tertiary education)

Non-dependent children are classified if they are:

  • children who are 15-24 years of age who are not full-time students
  • children aged 25 years and over

Other children are classified according to their relationships if:

  • children are full-time students aged 15-24 years of age with a child or partner of their own
  • they are aged 25 years and over with a child or partner of their own

History and changes

This variable was first reported in 1911 and every Census since. In the 1986 Census, relationship to Person 1 and/or Person 2 has been asked in respect of each child. This is necessary to classify step children.

The category, 'Other non-classifiable relationship' was added to this variable in 2011. People in occupied private dwellings who were coded to not applicable in previous censuses have been coded to ‘Other non-classifiable relationship’ from 2011.

Registered marriages include same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. Amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came into effect on 9 December 2017 enabling marriage equality for all couples.

In 2021, the category '11 Registered marriage' has been replaced with three categories:

  • 12 In a registered marriage, opposite-sex couple
  • 13 In a registered marriage, male same-sex couple
  • 14 In a registered marriage, female same-sex couple

Data use considerations

Priority is given to identifying those relationships which form a ‘family group’, i.e. partnerships and parent/child relationships. For many households, identifying relationships to assist the coding of family or household structure for that dwelling is quite straightforward.

For dwellings containing blended families or multiple generations of families, the nature of the family structure can be complex. The quality of family data in the Census is partly dependent on people’s ability to describe relationships within the constraints of the questionnaire format required by a Census.

The reporting of relationships to Person 1 can sometimes mean that closer relationships between other people in the household are lost. For example, reporting ‘niece’ (of Person 1) instead of ‘daughter’ of Person 2. In other cases, respondents have reported a relationship that is the reverse of what the question is intended to capture, for example, reporting 'grandparent' instead of 'grandchild'. While in many cases these errors are recognised and rectified, some are automatically accepted and cannot be reviewed.

More complex or unusual relationships are not automatically accepted by the processing system and are presented for manual coding. In some cases, additional information is used to determine relationships, such as:

  • name
  • usual residence
  • marital status
  • number of children given birth

This variable does not have a non-response rate as it is created during Census processing by using responses from more than one question on the Census form. 

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