May 6th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Shocking truth behind soaring power prices

CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm Turnbull on the front foot during U.S. VP's visit

VICTORIA Doctors in Secondary Schools program sidelines parents

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Pro-EU technocrat unlikely to solve France's malaise

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE 'Equality' a false promise to end 'discrimination'

GENDER POLITICS NSW, Tasmania scrap Safe Schools program

NORTH KOREA Will to engage enemy key to Korean Peninsula

NATIONAL CENSUS Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Gay intolerance puts on its pushy corporate face

EUTHANASIA Nitschke award goes to couple of artists

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Rare win for the family at UN women's commission

OBITUARY Servant of the public and God departs in peace

MUSIC Allan Holdsworth: Unparalleled technique

CINEMA The Fate of the Furious: Families, fast cars, fantastic action


BOOK REVIEW Two views of our future redundancy

BOOK REVIEW Mounted Division in the Great War

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Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 6, 2017

The first release of data from last year’s Australian census shows that the typical Australian family consists of a married couple, mum and dad, with two children, buying a family home.

The census shows that the typical Australian family is very different from the artificial construct produced by Hollywood, the television networks and the majority of media outlets.

Just "typical".

Last year’s $400 million national census was clouded by controversy. It was intended to be the first census in which most people completed it online, and was touted as the next wave in information technology. Millions of Australians were to complete the census online on census day, rather than waiting for the printed document to be delivered by hand, writing detailed information in the document, and then waiting for it to be hand-collected, before all the data was digitised.

In the lead-up to the census, many people expressed grave fears about the privacy of online communications.

Then internet hackers attacked the bureau’s website to disrupt the census process, forcing millions of people to go back to using the printed forms.

As a result of repeated “denial of service” attacks on the website, which was supposed to handle a million census returns per hour, it had to be shut down, and was off-line for nearly two days.

Although the census was supposed to be held on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, a week later the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that only 40 per cent of people had completed the census – either online or in print.

In contrast with earlier censuses, where the return rate was nearly 100 per cent, there were real fears that the census would not secure the level of return needed to validate the data collected.

This is the first time that the bureau has tried to run the census online. It clearly miscalculated the deep apprehension that many feel about filling in personal information online.

The first census results show that despite the attempts by the entertainment industry and the media to promote alternative family arrangements – or worse, repeatedly portraying households as families – most Australians want to live in conventional families consisting of a married couple with children and buying their own homes.


The first large-scale release of census data will take place late in June. In the meantime, the bureau has released a snapshot of the lives of “typical” Australians in 2016. It used the word “typical” to refer to the median, which is the middle value in a distribution when the values are arranged in ascending or descending order.

The 2016 census shows that the “typical” Australian family consists of a married couple with two children. For many purposes, de facto couples are considered as married. But the census data makes clear that the typical Australian family consists of couples who are in “a registered marriage”.

The census figures confirm earlier ABS surveys that showed that the overwhelming majority of children live in intact two-parent families. The “typical” parents are born in Australia, and the mother is of English ancestry. She has completed Year 12. They live in a house with three bedrooms and own two motor vehicles.

There are some interesting differences among states. In New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, the “typical” Australian has at least one parent who was born overseas.

The median age of Australian women is 38 years, while the corresponding age for men is 37. This reflects the fact that women live longer than men, although the gap between them is narrowing, at least partly as a result of lower smoking levels among men over recent years.

The “typical” Tasmanian is the oldest of all Australians, at 42 years old, while the “typical” Northern Territorian is the youngest, at 34 years old.

The “typical” Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person is a lot younger, at 23 years old, and is also female.

In 2016, the “typical” migrant in Australia was born in England and was 44 years old; a decade ago they were aged 46.

In regard to migrants, the states also show great divergence. The “typical” migrant in Queensland was born in New Zealand, while in Victoria the “typical” migrant was born in India. The “typical” migrant in NSW was born in China.

The data also shows that English is the language most commonly spoken at home, both in the population as a whole, and among people born overseas.

The data contradicts the view held by some that Australia is in danger of being overrun by Middle-Eastern Muslims.

The census also shows that home ownership remains the objective of the majority of Australians. This confirms the importance of the home affordability debate currently taking place ahead of the federal budget.

In 2016, the “typical” Australian home was owned with a mortgage, but again the states differ among themselves. For example, the “typical” home in Tasmania and New South Wales is owned outright, while the “typical” Northern Territory home is rented. Ten years ago, the “typical” Australian home was owned outright.

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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