1.1 Family functioning

Family functioning relates to a family's ability to interact, communicate, make decisions, solve problems and maintain relationships with each other. There are currently no national data available on a single overarching measure of family functioning. However, national data are available on family cohesion, a component of family functioning, which captures the ability of the family to get along with one another.

Growing Up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a major study conducted in partnership between the Department of Social Services, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The study measures family cohesion among families of two age-based cohorts of children: a 'birth' cohort and a 'kinder' cohort. As such, the same families are captured at each wave as the children grow older. In 2010-11 (Wave 4) the birth cohort was aged 6 to 7 years and the kindergarten cohort were aged 10 to 11 years. In the most current year of data (2015-16), the birth cohort was aged 13 to 14 years and the kindergarten cohort was aged 16 to 17 years. Additional age years for the study waves are provided in the table. 

For all indicator displays, where all years of data are comparable over time an ‘All’ category will be provided as an option in the ‘Year’ drop down display. If only a selection of specific years are comparable, these years (e.g. 2017 to 2019) will be provided as an option under ‘Year’ and ‘All’ will not be an option. See the footnotes for this indicator in the supplementary tables hyperlink below for further information.

See the XLS Downloadsupplementary table for this indicator for further information and footnotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

The information below provides technical specifications for the summary indicator data presented in the quick reference guide.

National Framework Indicator 1.1 Family functioning: Proportion of families who report 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent' family cohesion
  Definition Data source
Numerator

Number of families with children in the reference period who report good, very good or excellent family cohesion

Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

Denominator Number of families with children in the reference period

Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

Explanatory notes

Family functioning is not easily measured and lacks easily defined concepts. Family cohesion reflects the ability of the family to get along with each other—it only partially captures the concept of family functioning, but national data are available.

The cohort nature of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) limits the usefulness of the data as an indicator over time. LSAC is a longitudinal study of two age-based cohorts (i.e. children aged either 0-1 or 4-5 at wave 1), rather than a longitudinal panel study sampling a cross-section of the population. LSAC is therefore capturing the same families at each wave as the children grow older, rather than providing a more representative cross-section of the population over time. LSAC is a child-based collection, and as such, families with no children are excluded.

Family cohesion data are collected for both LSAC cohorts—the birth cohort (children aged 0-1 years at wave 1) and the child cohort (children aged 4-5 years at wave 1). As such, the reportable age groups will vary across each wave of family cohesion data as the children grow older. Each wave is two years apart.

LSAC captures parent self-reported family cohesion. Parents rate their family's ability to get along with each other against five response categories: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.

See the XLS Downloadsupplementary table for this indicator for further information and footnotes about these data.