Persons temporarily absent

Exploring how data on people who are away from home is collected and used

Released
28/06/2022

How we use information on people away from home on Census Night

The Census collects information on all people who were at home on Census Night and allows for up to three people who were away from home to be recorded at a residence.

The information we collect for people who were away from home on Census Night includes:

  • age
  • sex
  • Indigenous status
  • relationship to Person 1/Person 2
  • full-time/part-time student status.

We use this basic information to determine the structure of a household. For example, whether it is made up of families or people who are unrelated.

    Persons temporarily absent on the Census form

    Image of a page of the Census paper form with questions about people away on Census Night.

    Persons temporarily absent on the Census form

    This image shows sections 58 and 59 on the Census form. Section 58 is titled 'Were there any people away on the night of Tuesday 10 August 2021 who usually live in this dwelling?' and section 59 is titled 'For each person away, complete the following questions'. The questions include:
    - the name of each person who usually lives in this dwelling;
    - but was away on Census Night;
    - whether the person is male, female or non-binary;
    - what the person's date of birth and age is;
    - if the person is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin;
    - if the person is a full-time student; and
    - what their relationship is to Person 1/Person 2.

    We refer to people who are away from home on Census Night as Persons temporarily absent.

    We have six variables for Persons temporarily absent that you can use with Census data. Five relate to different kinds of people absent from the family, and one is used to count the number of people absent from the household.

    More information on these variables can be found in the 2021 Census Dictionary.

    Absent from family variables

    CNDAF – Count of non-dependent children temporarily absent

    CDSAF – Count of dependent students (15-24 years) in family temporarily absent

    CDCAF – Count of dependent children under 15 years in family temporarily absent

    CPAF – Count of persons temporarily absent from family

    SPLF – Location of spouse

    Absent from household variables

    CPAD – Count of persons temporarily absent from household

    Examples of how information on temporarily absent people is used

    Here are some examples of how we use information on temporarily absent people to decide the type of household or family who usually lives in a dwelling.

      Example 1: The location of spouse (SPLF) is temporarily absent

      The image shows a house and four people, depicting one parent away from home on Census Night.

      Example 1: The location of spouse (SPLF) is temporarily absent

      Picture of a house with a parent and two children inside. Another parent is outside the house.

      A parent and two children were at home on Census Night and one parent was away from home.

      Instead of Family composition (FMCF) being recorded as a One parent family, we use the information about the temporarily absent spouse (in the ‘person away’ section of the form) to code the family as a Couple family with children.

      The Household composition (HHCD) was One family household.

      The Count of persons temporarily absent from family (CPAF) and the household (CPAD) was one.

        Example 2: Unrelated and absent individual

        The image shows a house and three people, depicting two people away from home on Census Night.

        Example 2: Unrelated and absent individual

        The image shows a house and three people. One person is inside the house, and two are outside.

        One adult was at home and two unrelated adults were away on Census Night.

        Instead of Household composition (HHCD) being recorded as a Lone person household, we use the information about the absent people to code this as a Group household.

        The Count of persons temporarily absent from household (CPAD) was two.

        The Count of persons absent from the family (CPAF) was not applicable for this household because it is not a family household.

          Example 3: Multiple family household with family members temporarily absent

          Picture of a house with three families inside. Two of the families have people away from home on Census Night.

          Example 3: Multiple family household with family members temporarily absent

          The image shows a house and three families. In the first family, a parent and child are at home, while another parent and a second child are outside the home. The second family shows a parent and a child, who are both at home. The third family consists of two adults, one is present and the other is outside the home.

          The numbers in the diagram are Family numbers (FNOF).

          In the primary family there was an adult and child at home and an adult and child away.

          The second family had an adult and child at home. There was no one away from home.

          In the third family one adult was at home and one adult was away from home.

          Using the relevant variables, and the information provided on the Census form for the three temporarily absent people, we can determine the following information about these families.

          The Household composition (HHCD) is a Three family household.

          The Count of persons temporarily absent from household (CPAD) was three.

          How these families relate to variables
           Primary family (FNOF = 1)Second family (FNOF = 2)Third family (FNOF = 3)
          FMCF Family compositionCouple family with children under 15 yearsOne parent family with a child under 15 yearsCouple family without children
          CPAF Count of persons temporarily absent from familyTwo persons temporarily absent from familyNo persons temporarily absent from familyOne person temporarily absent from family
          SPLF Location of spouseTemporarily absentN/ATemporarily absent
          CNDAF Count of non-dependent children temporarily absentN/AN/AN/A
          CDCAF Count of dependent children under 15 years temporarily absentOne dependent child under 15 years temporarily absentN/AN/A
          CDSAF Count of dependent students (15-24 years) temporarily absentN/AN/AN/A

          Why are temporarily absent variables necessary?

          There are three main reasons why we collect data on persons who are away from home on Census Night:

          1. For greater accuracy in coding families and households
          2. To count the number of usual residents per household
          3. To perform calculations such as the average number of people per household

          Place of usual residence (PURP)

          Place of usual residence (PURP) is a person level variable that allows counts of people by the place where they usually live rather than by where they were counted on Census Night.

          We use Place of usual residence in the processing and calculation of Count of persons temporarily absent from household (CPAD).

          Please see Comparing Place of usual residence with Place of enumeration for further information.

          Usual address indicator Census Night (UAICP)

          Usual address indicator Census Night (UAICP) is a variable that indicates whether a person was at home or elsewhere in Australia on Census Night.

          You can use this variable to exclude temporarily absent persons from Place of enumeration data.

          COVID-19 effects on Persons temporarily absent

          The 2021 Census was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which required much of the Australian population to isolate at home under health directives. A slightly higher proportion of the population were at home on Census Night than in the previous Census. This was more noticeable in NSW and Victoria as large parts of these states were in lockdown at the time of the 2021 Census.

          Location of the population on Census Night, by state and territory, 2021 and 2016
           New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia(a)
          2021
          At home 96.8%97.3%94.6%96.0%93.7%95.5%81.5%96.6%95.9%
          Elsewhere in Australia3.0%2.5%5.1%3.8%6.0%4.3%17.3%3.1%3.9%
          Total(b)100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
          2016
          At home94.5%95.2%91.9%94.9%92.8%94.6%82.2%94.1%93.9%
          Elsewhere in Australia4.2%3.6%6.4%4.2%6.0%4.8%14.3%4.6%4.8%
          Total(b)100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%

          (a) Includes Other territories

          (b) Includes Overseas visitors