Notes on the data: Aboriginal families

Aboriginal single parent families with children aged less than 15 years, 2021


Policy context:  Obligation and connection to family plays an important role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This support can be in the form of sharing accommodation. For example, in the 2016 Census, households in which an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander lived were more likely than other households to be family households (79% compared with 70%) or group households (5.4% compared with 3.8%). They were less likely to be a person living alone (16% compared with 26%) [1].

Of all Aboriginal families, not just those with children, 30.9% were one parent families, 37.5% were couple families with children and 22.5% were couple families without children. Compared with other family types, one parent families are considered to be at a higher risk of disadvantage, with respect to income, housing, employment and social participation [1].

Although the number of Aboriginal single parent families with children under 15 years has increased since the 2011 Census (from 51,018 families in 2011 to 70,448 in 2021), there has been greater growth in the total number of Aboriginal families with children under 15 years. As a result, the proportion of single parent families has declined, from 47.2% in 2011 to 45.9% in 2016 and 44.7% in 2021. In this context, it is important to note that many children spend at least some of their childhood with a lone parent; and many women and some men experience sole parenting, often in difficult financial circumstances. The economic and social wellbeing of one-parent families is a focus of social policy, as many single parent families also experience poorer health, and are major users of publicly-funded services. Details of their location are, therefore, relevant to policy makers and those providing health, education, welfare and housing and transport services [2].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples Profile, ABS 2021, accessed 3 February 2023. Available from:
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, 2007 - Article: One-parent families. (ABS Cat. no. 4102). Canberra: ABS; 2007, accessed 18 October 2013. Available from:$File/41020_One-parent%20families_2007.pdf

Notes:  Aboriginal single parent family: One parent family where at least one family member was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and with children under 15 years (may include families with dependent students and non-dependents).


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Aboriginal single parent families with children under 15 years


Denominator:  Total Aboriginal families with children under 15 years


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2021


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