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Unpaid work and care: Census

Information on unpaid domestic work, unpaid child care, and voluntary work

Reference period
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

  • 2,476,681 people provided unpaid assistance to others with a disability, long-term health condition or due to old age.
  • 2,933,646 Australians were doing unpaid voluntary work. This is a 19 per cent decrease from 2016. 
  • 27 per cent of both males and females undertake between 5 to 14 hours of unpaid domestic work per week. 

(a) Based on place of usual residence. Count of persons aged 15 years and over. Excludes overseas visitors.

Access Census data

Unpaid work and care data summary

Tables in this download:

  1. Voluntary work for an organisation or group by sex by age
  2. Unpaid domestic work: number of hours by sex by age
  3. Unpaid domestic work: number of hours by sex by relationship in household
  4. Unpaid assistance to a person with a disability, long-term health condition or due to old age by sex by age
  5. Unpaid child care by sex by age
  6. Unpaid child care by total household income (weekly)

Unpaid work and care data summary

Other Census data cubes

Please refer to other relevant Census data cubes:

Snapshot of Australia
  • Unpaid domestic work: number of hours by sex - 2016 and 2021

Census data tools

Search Census data provides a simple way to understand an area at a glance.

  • QuickStats provides a summary of an area including demographics and tables on key characteristics of the people living in the area, their families and their dwellings.
  • Community Profiles provide a comprehensive statistical picture of an area in an Excel spreadsheet, delivering data relating to people, families and dwellings.

Data Explorer is an interactive web browser where you can view, query and download data.

DataPacks contain comprehensive data about people, families and dwellings for all Census geographies ranging from Australia down to Statistical Area Level 1.

Other ABS surveys

Explore other ABS data related to unpaid work and care within people and communities.

Key questions in 2021 Census

This data is informed by responses to the following questions:

  • In the last twelve months did the person spend any time doing unpaid voluntary work for an organisation or group?  
  • In the last week did the person spend time doing unpaid domestic work for their household? 
  • In the last two weeks did the person spend time looking after a child, without pay?
  • In the last two weeks did the person spend time providing unpaid care, help or assistance to family members or others because of a disability, a long-term health condition or problems related to old age?

More information: Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary - Unpaid work and care

How Census data is used

Learn how Census data helps community groups, businesses and governments make important decisions.

Hands Across Canberra uses Census data to inform community funding needs

Hands Across Canberra raises money and directs it to community organisations to help disadvantaged groups and people in crisis.

Peter Gordon, CEO of Hands Across Canberra, says 2016 Census data was instrumental to its Vital Signs community check-up report, which revealed the needs of disadvantaged people in the community. 

“We support 300 organisations and 100 community projects,” said Mr Gordon.

“Since 2011 we have distributed $3 million to community projects. To ensure our grants have an impact, we need to prioritise funding for where it is needed most to address the critical needs in the community.”

2016 Census data showed areas of Canberra with educational disadvantage and youth unemployment at 10 per cent. This group is at a higher risk of mental health issues and suicide.

Hands Across Canberra granted $25,000 to Canberra’s Police Community Youth Club (PCYC) for an engagement program offering activities and recreation for at-risk young boys living on the edges of South Tuggeranong and West Belconnen.

“It’s a program to keep kids off the street and out of trouble,” Mr Gordon explained.

“PCYC has already changed the lives of 30 boys through great experiences and positive connections, and 200 boys are on the waiting list to join.

“The not-for-profit sector plays an immense role in addressing community need and finding solutions to our toughest problems. Census data and the Vital Signs report helps make connections between real issues and trends in different areas, so funding can focus on immediate need as well as prevention.”

Mr Gordon explains that it is important for everyone to complete the Census because to make a difference in communities, funding decisions must be based on credible data.

“We could not have produced such a comprehensive and useful Vital Signs report if not for Census data. It allowed us to make well informed decisions for grant rounds in 2018 and 2019, and the data will influence granting decisions for years to come.”