The recent survey on ‘Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australis’ (HILDA), conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne, focused on family life, household economic well-being, labour market, retirement, gambling, young-home-owners as well as attitudes to marriage, parenting and work.

In 2017, Australian workers on average spent 4.5 hours commuting to work per week compared to 3.7 hours in 2002, an increase of 21%. Sydney had the longest average daily commutes (71 minutes), followed by Brisbane (67 minutes), Melbourne (65 minutes), Perth (59 minutes) and Adelaide (56 minutes). Reasons for the increasing commute time vary among different cities but may include increased road congestion, urban expansion and poor public transport services.

The survey suggests that long-distance commuters (two hours or more a day) are less likely than short-distance commuters (less than one hour) to be satisfied with their working hours, work-life balance and pay. Longer commutes not only impose physical and mental strains on workers but may also affect their work participation, engagement and productivity.

Long duration commuting to work can reduce the time a person has for other activities which include physical exercise, time with family, social activities and so on which are important for psychological well-being.

Close to 28% of workers live and work in the same postcode. Approximately 55% of workers live within 10 km of their place of work. Only 11% of workers live 30 or more km away from their place of work.

In 2017, 56% of men aged 18 to 29 lived with one or both parents, up from 47% in 2001. Over the same year, the proportion of women aged 18 to 29 living with their parents rose to 54%, up from 36% in 2001. More than 60% of Victorian young adults live with their parents, followed by 56% in NSW and approximately 53% in other states and territories. In Queensland, the proportion of young adults living at home rose from 31% in 2001 to 52% in 2017, the highest proportion of the increase in the country.

A number of mutually reinforcing economic and social factors are likely to be driving the overall increasing trend towards staying in the parental home longer, including the cost of housing, lack of full-time employment opportunities for young people, increasingly casual nature of work and growth in education participation in young adults.

In 2017, the median age at marriage for males was 32.0 years, an increase from 31.9 years of age in 2016. In the same year, the median age at marriage for females was 30.1 years, an increase of 0.2 years in 2016. The average age of mothers at first birth has been creeping upwards and it was around 29 years in 2017.

In 2001, the percentage of coupled parents who used paid childcare for their children who were not yet at school (up to 4 years of age) was 40% which increased to 43 in 2014 and then to 53% in 2017. Employment of parents is the key factor for seeking paid childcare services. If parents are not in work, the probability that their child will attend childcare falls by 25% and a massive 28% for single-mother families.

The cost of childcare has been a dominant concern for families since 2011. In 2017, the amount of money families were spending on childcare for their 0 to 4-year-olds has increased by 145% compared to 2001, after taking into account subsidy receipts. This extent of spending increase has not been seen for childcare in relation to school-age children, long daycare and outside school hour care services.