Unpaid work and care: Census

Latest release

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

Source: Unpaid domestic work: number of hours (DOMP), Sex (SEXP)

Census data stories and concepts

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.”

See more Census stories.

Key questions in 2021 Census

  • 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?

The questions from the 2021 Census are output into variables. To see descriptions of the variables, including data use considerations, relevant to this topic see the 2021 Census dictionary: Unpaid work and care.

Data downloads

Data table for Unpaid work and care data summary

Other relevant data downloads can be found on the following pages:

Snapshot of Australia

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

Other ABS links

To access more 2021 Census data, see Search Census data or to build your own data sets, see Census data tools.

Explore other ABS data: 

Post release changes

12/10/2022 - Unpaid work and care data summary download file amended to include second release data tables. 

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