2076.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/02/2018   
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ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES

In the Census, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household is one in which at least one person usually resident in a dwelling identifies as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. There were 263,037 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households across Australia recorded in the 2016 Census, representing 3 per cent of total households. This is an increase from 209,050 (3%) in 2011. The number of people living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households has also increased since 2011 to 858,937 (up from 704,858).

In 2016, 4 per cent of the population lived in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, including approximately 250,000 non-Indigenous Australians.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households are primarily one family households (75%) with a further 5 per cent being multiple family households. Proportions between the different categories of household composition remain essentially unchanged since the 2011 Census.

Graph Image for Household Composition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Households, 2011 to 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016



Understanding Household Composition

A household is defined by the ABS as one or more persons, at least one of whom is at least 15 years of age, usually resident in the same private dwelling. Under this definition, all occupants of a dwelling form a household and complete one form. The Census forms asks a number of questions to allow the ABS to collect information on the household, including how persons are related to each other and if there is any person who usually lives in the dwelling but is away on Census night.

Household composition describes the type of household in each occupied private dwelling. This includes indicating if a family is present or not, whether it is a lone person household and whether or not unrelated members of the household are present. The ‘other not classifiable category’ includes those households which the ABS Field Officer determined were occupied on Census night but where the ABS Field Officer could not make contact; households that contained only persons aged under 15 years; or households which could not be classified elsewhere in this classification because there was insufficient information on the Census form.


ONE-FAMILY HOUSEHOLDS

Most (79%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in one-family households in 2016. This has remained consistent since 2006. The majority of persons who lived in one-family households lived in urban areas (81%). Families who lived in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one-family households were most likely to be couple families with children (41%) followed by one parent families (34%) and couple families with no children (22%).

Understanding Family Composition

A family is defined by the ABS as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually present in the same household. Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family. Households in the Census can be allocated up to three families.

For more information on family concepts and coding rules please see Family Composition in the Census dictionary.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one-family households were 2.5 times more likely to be one parent families than other one-family households. The majority of lone parents in these households were female (85%). Most lone parents had never married (60%), with a further 30 per cent having either separated or divorced.

Graph Image for Lone Parents by Marital Status, Lone parent households, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



MULTI-FAMILY HOUSEHOLDS

Of the 62,261 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons living in multi-family households in 2016, 39 per cent lived in non-urban areas of Australia. In the Northern Territory 60 per cent of persons in multi-family households lived in non-urban areas, followed by Western Australia (51%) and South Australia (49%).

Graph Image for Household Composition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Section of State, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-family households were more likely to be overcrowded than one-family households. Almost 30 per cent of multi-family households required two or more extra bedrooms to suitably house all usual residents, compared to 2 per cent of one-family households.

Most families in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-family households were one parent families (44%), followed by couple families with children (29%) and couple families with no children (25%). The majority of lone parents in multi-family households were female (84%) and most had never married (69%). Female lone parents were also more likely to not be in the labour force (60%) than men (48%).

GRANDPARENT FAMILIES

In 2016, there were 11,038 grandparent families (4%) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households. Most were lone grandparent families (56%) and most grandparent families were significantly more likely to be in one-family households (87%) than multi-family households.

The majority of grandparent families (65%) had grandchildren aged under 15 years. A further 24 per cent of families had non-dependent grandchildren aged over 15 years and a further 11 per cent had dependent student grandchildren aged over 15 years. The median age of grandparent carers was 58.

What can the Census tell us about Grandparent Families?

A grandparent family is defined as any family where there is a grandparent/grandchild relationship but no parent/child relationship. There are three data items in the Census that can provide information on grandparent families – Grandparent Families (FMGF) , Relationship in Household (including grandchildren) (RLGP) and Child Type (including grandchildren) CTGP). These variables cannot be used with standard family classifications.

Grandparent family variables are available on request or via TableBuilder Pro. For more information please see Grandparent Families in the Census dictionary.