Family life in Australia is similar to that in North America. Families include those in which both parents live with their children, single-parent families, stepfamilies, unmarried adults living together and extended families. Australia is also a multicultural society, and many immigrants maintain their own family traditions. About 20% of the population was born outside Australia, and another 20% has at least one parent born outside the country.

More than 85% of Australians live in urban areas, mostly on the east coast. Sydney and Melbourne are home to almost a third of the total population. Further inland, there are enormous distances between the small towns. Sheep farmers may live on isolated farms, known as sheep stations, many kilometres from their nearest neighbours.

A typical Australian home is a one-storey dwelling made of brick with a tile roof. A two-storey home is considered a luxury. Most houses have their own plot of land with a garden. Many rural homes have a backyard dunny, or outhouse. In the warm northern area of Australia, homes are built on stilts, allowing airflow beneath the building and acting as protection against flooding.

Like Canada, Australia is an aging society. The number of people over 65 is expected to double during the next few decades. Elderly people, who receive government pensions after the age of 65, may live on their own or in retirement homes.

Australia once had a reputation as a "macho" country, where men expected women to take a subordinate role and remain at home as wives and mothers. However, in recent years, this reputation has changed. In the 1970s, Germaine Greer, a leading feminist thinker, and other Australian women demanded greater rights for women. Women now enjoy a larger range of career opportunities and increased political influence.

It is a common misconception that Australia's indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders, live in remote or nomadic communities. In fact, Aborigines live in every state and territory of Australia, both in highly urbanized locations and in remote rural areas. Although in the past, Aborigines were a nomadic people, few Aborigines today have a traditional tribal life style.

   Did you know?

The secret ballot, now used throughout the world in political elections, was first introduced in the Australian colony of Victoria in 1855. In 1892, South Australia was the first place in the world to offer women the opportunity to vote. Today voting is compulsory in Australia, and fines are charged when a citizen fails to vote.