2.17 Most children in Australia live at home with their families and the vast majority of these children livein two parent families. The family and family-related statistics based on the 1996 census had not been released when this Report was drafted. Other statistics show that, in 1996, of the estimated 3.8 million children aged 0 to 14 living in Australia, approximately 87% lived in the 1.7 million families that consisted of a couple with dependent children.
2.18 One parent families made up 19% (467 200) of all families with dependent children in Australia in 1996. Of these one parent families, 87% were headed by the mother and 13% were headed by the father. Children in lone-mother families tend to be younger than those in lone-father families: in 1996 35.4% of lone mother families had a youngest child aged 0 to 4 while only 14.5% of lone-father families included children in this age group.
2.19 In 1992, the ABS estimated that there were 87 000 blended families (with both a step child and a natural, adopted or foster child) and 115 900 step families (with a step child but not a natural, adopted or foster child) and that almost 450 000 children were living in these blended or step families. Many children in Australia live in more than one family type during their childhood. As children grow older the chance of living with both their natural parents decreases. In 1992, 87% of children aged 0 to 4 years lived with both natural parents compared with 76% of children aged 10 to 14.
2.20 There has been a growing trend in Australia for young people to continue to live with their parents for longer periods. For example, in 1982 approximately 84.2% of all young people aged 15 to 19 lived with a parent. However, this proportion grew to 88.9% in 1992. Only a small proportion of 15 to 19 year olds lived as partners in a couple (3.2%) or as sole parents (0.7%) in 1992. Young people from non-English speaking birthplaces are less likely to be living with a parent than the general youth population.
2.21 Family life for Indigenous children is different in several respects from that of non-Indigenous children. In 1991, 62 037 Indigenous families were counted in Australia. Of these families, 50% were couple families with dependent children (compared to 44% of non-Indigenous families) and almost one quarter were one parent families with dependent children. In 1994, nearly 13% of Indigenous people lived in households shared by two or more families compared with 2% of the non-Indigenous population. Only 64.1% of Indigenous young people aged 15 to 19 lived with a parent. In addition, 6.7% lived as a partner in a couple and 3.8% were sole parents.
Economics and the family
2.22 Children living in low income families are more likely to be from sole parent families, Indigenous families, some families of non-English speaking backgrounds and rural or remote families. For example, in 1996, most children aged 0 to 14 who lived with both their parents lived in families in which one or both parents worked and only 7.9% of all couple families with dependent children in this age group had no employed parent. However, approximately 44% of all sole parents were not employed in 1996. Consistent with the lower labour force participation of sole parents, children in one parent families are more likely to live in families with lower incomes than children in couple families. In 1994-95, only 15.6% of couple families with dependent children were in the lowest income quintile compared to 32.1% of sole parent families.
2.23 Indigenous families and some families of non-English speaking backgrounds also have lower than average incomes: in 1992 around 32.2% of all Indigenous couple families with children and 77.4% of all Indigenous sole parent families were in the lowest or second lowest income quintile, compared with 19% and 60.9% respectively for all families. In 1991, 19% of all children living in families in the lowest income quintile were of non-English speaking back-grounds. The largest numbers of these children whose parents’ birthplace was identified had parents born in Italy, Vietnam and Lebanon.
2.24 Children in rural and remote areas are also more likely to be living in families with lower incomes. In 1992, 26.1% of families living in rural areas were in the lowest income quintile compared to 17.6% of families living in capital cities. Approximately one quarter of rural families received a pension as their main source of income.
 ABS Australian Social Trends 1997 ABS Canberra 1997, 30. An additional 255 000 families consisted of a couple with dependents aged 15 and older: derived from ABS Australian Social Trends 1997 ABS Canberra 1997, 24, 30. The ABS defined ‘dependents’ as family members, other than the parent or family head, aged 15-24 who attended an educational institution full-time.
 ABS Australian Social Trends 1997 ABS Canberra 1997, 34.
 id 35.
 ABS Australia’s Families — Selected Findings from the Survey of Families in Australia 1992 ABS Canberra 1993, 5.
 ABS Australian Social Trends 1995 ABS Canberra 1995, 29.
 id 30.
 ABS Focus on Families: Demographics and Family Formation ABS Canberra 1994, 17.
 ABS & NYARS Australia’s Young People ABS Canberra 1993, 34.
 ABS Focus on Families: Demographics and Family Formation ABS Canberra 1994, 8.
 J Shu et al, Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research Australia’s Population Trends and Prospects 1995 AGPS Canberra 1996, 10.
 ABS 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey: Australia’s Indigenous Youth ABS Canberra 1996, 1.
 ABS Australian Social Trends 1997 ABS Canberra 1997, 30.
 id 36.
 ABS Focus on Families: Income and Housing ABS Canberra 1995, 6. The lowest income quintile was defined as an income of less than $16 000 per year and the second lowest was $16 001 to $25 000.
 J Taylor & H MacDonald, Bureau of Immigration and Population Research Disadvantage and Children of Immigrants: A Longitudinal Study AGPS Canberra 1994, 15.
 id 16.
 ABS Focus on Families: Income and Housing ABS Canberra 1995, 4.