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Modern Australian Family

Modern Australian Family

 Modern Families in Australia – Key messages

  • In 2011, 71% of children under 15 years old lived with two biological or adoptive parents. While 82% of children are born into two-parent families, as they grow, progressively fewer live with both biological parents (only 53% by age 17 years).
  • Children in step-families experience complex living arrangements, sharing time between parents. Each year, one in five children aged 4–17 years were in shared time arrangements five years after parental separation .
  • In 2011, very few 15–24 year olds were married (1% of males and 4% of females), but a larger number were cohabiting (6% of males and 13% of females). By contrast, around 60% of 25–34 year olds were cohabiting. Around 1% of co-resident couples were same-sex couples.
  • Grandparents commonly care for grandchildren, with 65% of grandparents aged 40–69 years doing caring duties at least once a week.
  • In testing times, 84% of Australian born people said they would turn to family for help. In contrast, only 58% of newly arrived migrants, who have fewer family members nearby, said they could turn to family when in need.
  • In 2013–14, more than 20% of people said either themselves, a friend or family member had been affected by mental illness, alcohol or drugs, or abuse or violence in the past year.


Each of us sees family from a different perspective as we grow and move through life.

This special Australian Institute of Families (AIFS) Facts Sheet explores the different phases of family, from the families we live with as children to the families we form as we grow older.

Of course family life, and life more generally, is more complex and challenging for some people in our community. In this Facts Sheet we also present statistics relating to particular stressors facing some Australians, including recent arrivals to Australia.


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