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Person (name)—family name, text X[X(39)]

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termData Element
Short name:Help on this termFamily name
Synonymous names:Help on this termSurname; Last name
METeOR identifier:Help on this term286953
Registration status:Help on this termHousing assistance, Standard 20/06/2005 [Non DictionaryHelp on this term]
Health, Superseded 05/10/2016
Tasmanian Health, Endorsed 01/09/2016
Community Services (retired), Superseded 06/02/2012
Definition:Help on this termThat part of a name a person usually has in common with some other members of his/her family, as distinguished from his/her given names, as represented by text.
Data Element Concept:Person (name)—family name

Value domain attributes

Representational attributes

Representation class:Help on this termText
Data type:Help on this termString
Format:Help on this termX[X(39)]
Maximum character length:Help on this term40

Data element attributes

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term

The agency or establishment should record the person's full family name on their information systems.

National Community Services Data Dictionary specific:

In instances where there is uncertainty about which name to record for a person living in a remote Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, Centrelink follows the practice of recording the Indigenous person's name as it is first provided to Centrelink. Or, where proof of identity is required, as the name that is recorded on a majority of the higher point scoring documents that are produced as proof of identity.

Collection methods:Help on this term

This metadata item should be recorded for all persons who receive services from or are of interest to an organisation. For the purposes of positive identification, it may also be recorded for providers of those services who are individuals.

Mixed case should be used.

Family name should be recorded in the format preferred by the person. The format should be the same as that written by the person on a (pre) registration form or in the same format as that printed on an identification card, such as a Medicare card, to ensure consistent collection of name data.

It is acknowledged that some people use more than one family name (e.g. formal name, birth name, married/maiden name, tribal name) depending on the circumstances. Each name should be recorded against the appropriate Name type (see Comments).

A person is able to change his or her name by usage in all States and Territories of Australia with the exception of Western Australia, where a person may only change his or her name under the Change of Name Act. Care should be taken when recording a change of name for a minor. Ideally, the name recorded for the minor should be known to both of his/her parents, so the minor's records can be retrieved and continuity of care maintained, regardless of which parent accompanies the minor to the agency or establishment.

A person should generally be registered using their preferred name as it is more likely to be used in common usage and on subsequent visits to the agency or establishment. The person's preferred name may in fact be the name on their Medicare card. The Person name type metadata item can be used to distinguish between the different types of names that may be used by the person. The following format may assist with data collection:

What is your family name? _______________________________________

Are you known by any other family names that you would like recorded? If so, what are they ___________________________________________________

Please indicate, for each name above, the 'type' of family name that is to be recorded:

(a) Medicare card name (if different to preferred name).

(b) Alias (any other name that you are known by). Whenever a person informs the agency or establishment of a change of family name (e.g. following marriage or divorce), the former name should be recorded as an alias name. A full history of names should be retained. e.g. 'Mary Georgina Smith' informs the hospital that she has been married and changed her family name to 'Jones'. Record 'Jones' as her preferred family name and record 'Smith' as an alias name.

Hyphenated family names:

Sometimes persons with hyphenated family names use only one of the two hyphenated names. It is useful to record each of the hyphenated names as an alias. If the person has a hyphenated family name, e.g. 'Wilson-Phillips' record 'Wilson-Phillips' in the preferred family name field and record 'Wilson' and 'Phillips' separately as alias family names.


If special characters form part of the family name they should be included, e.g. hyphenated names should be entered with a hyphen.


- hyphen, e.g. Wilson-Phillips

Do not leave a space before or after a hyphen, i.e. between the last letter of 'Wilson' and the hyphen, nor a space between the hyphen and the first letter of 'Phillips'.

- apostrophe, e.g. O'Brien, D'Agostino

Do not leave a space before or after the apostrophe, i.e. between the 'O' and the apostrophe, or a space between the apostrophe and 'Brien'.

- full stop, e.g. St. John, St. George

Do not leave a space before a full stop, i.e. between 'St' and the full stop. Do leave a space between the full stop and 'John'.

- space, e.g. van der Humm, Le Brun, Mc Donald

If the health care client has recorded their family name as more than one word, displaying spaces in between the words, record their family name in the same way leaving one space between each word.

Registered unnamed newborn babies:

When registering a newborn, use the mother's family name as the baby's family name unless instructed otherwise by the mother. Record unnamed babies under the newborn Name type.

Persons with only one name:

Some people do not have a family name and a given name, they have only one name by which they are known. If the person has only one name, record it in the 'Family name' field and leave the 'Given name' field blank.

Registering an unidentified person:

The default for unknown family name should be unknown in all instances and the name recorded as an alias name. Don't create a 'fictitious' family name such as 'Doe' as this is an actual family name. When the person's name becomes known, record it as the preferred family name and do not overwrite the alias name of unknown.

Registering health care clients from disaster sites:

Persons treated from disaster sites should be recorded under the alias Name Type. Local business rules should be developed for consistent recording of disaster site person details.

Care should be taken not to use identical dummy data (family name, given name, date of birth, sex) for two or more persons from a disaster site.

If the family name needs to be shortened:

If the length of the family name exceeds the length of the field, truncate the family name from the right (that is, dropping the final letters). Also, the last character of the name should be a hash (#) to identify that the name has been truncated.

Use of incomplete names or fictitious names:

Some health care facilities permit persons to use a pseudonym (fictitious or partial name) in lieu of their full or actual name. It is recommended that the person be asked to record both the pseudonym (Alias name) in addition to the person's Medicare card name.

Baby for adoption:

The word adoption should not be used as the family name, given name or alias for a newborn baby. A newborn baby that is for adoption should be registered in the same way that other newborn babies are registered. However, if a baby born in the hospital is subsequently adopted, and is admitted for treatment as a child, the baby is registered under their adopted (current) name, and the record should not be linked to the birth record. This should be the current practice. Any old references to adoption in client registers (for names) should also be changed to unknown. Contact your State or Territory adoption information service for further information.


Where a family name contains a prefix, such as one to indicate that the person is a widow, this must be entered as part of the 'Family name' field. When widowed, some Hungarian women add 'Ozvegy' (abbreviation is 'Ozy') before their married family name, e.g. 'Mrs Szabo' would become 'Mrs Ozy Szabo'. That is, 'Mrs Szabo' becomes an alias name and 'Mrs Ozy Szabo' becomes the preferred name.

Ethnic Names:

The Centrelink publication, Naming Systems for Ethnic Groups, provides the correct coding for ethnic names.

Misspelled family name:

If the person's family name has been misspelled in error, update the family name with the correct spelling and record the misspelled family name as an alias name. Recording misspelled names is important for filing documents that may be issued with previous versions of the person's name. Discretion should be used regarding the degree of recording that is maintained.


Comments:Help on this term

Often people use a variety of names, including legal names, married/maiden names, nicknames, assumed names, traditional names, etc. Even small differences in recording - such as the difference between MacIntosh and McIntosh - can make record linkage impossible. To minimise discrepancies in the recording and reporting of name information, agencies or establishments should ask the person for their full (formal) 'Given name' and 'Family name'. These may be different from the name that the person may prefer the agency or establishment workers to use in personal dealings. Agencies or establishments may choose to separately record the preferred names that the person wishes to be used by agency or establishment workers. In some cultures it is traditional to state the family name first. To overcome discrepancies in recording/reporting that may arise as a result of this practice, agencies or establishments should always ask the person to specify their first given name and their family name or surname separately. These should then be recorded as 'Given name' and 'Family name' as appropriate, regardless of the order in which they may be traditionally given.

National Community Services Data Dictionary specific:

Selected letters of the family name in combination with selected letters of the given name, date of birth and sex, may be used for record linkage for statistical purposes only.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this term

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Standards Australia

Origin:Help on this term

National Health Data Committee

National Community Services Data Committee

Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services 1998. Home and Community Care Data Dictionary Version 1.0. Canberra: DHFS Standards Australia 2002. Australian Standard AS5017-2002 Health Care Client Identification. Sydney: Standards Australia

Reference documents:Help on this termAS4846 Health Care Provider Identification, 2004, Sydney: Standards Australia

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Supersedes Person (name)—family name, text X[X(39)] Health, Superseded 04/05/2005, Community Services (retired), Superseded 25/08/2005

Has been superseded by Person (name)—family name, text X[X(39)] Indigenous, Endorsed 05/09/2014, Disability, Standard 13/08/2015, Community Services (retired), Standard 06/02/2012

See also Person (name)—given name, text X[X(39)] Housing assistance, Standard 20/06/2005, Health, Superseded 05/10/2016, Tasmanian Health, Endorsed 01/09/2016, Community Services (retired), Superseded 06/02/2012

Has been superseded by Person—family name, text X[X(39)] Health, Standard 05/10/2016, Tasmanian Health, Endorsed 27/06/2017, Indigenous, Final 30/05/2018, ACT Health, Final 02/01/2019

Is used in the formation of Person—letters of family name, text XXX Housing assistance, Standard 23/08/2010, Health, Standard 07/12/2011, Early Childhood, Standard 21/05/2010, Homelessness, Standard 23/08/2010, Disability, Standard 07/10/2014, Children and Families, Standard 22/11/2016, Community Services (retired), Standard 27/03/2007, ACT Health, Final 09/08/2018, Youth Justice, Candidate 19/11/2021

Is used in the formation of Person—letters of given and family name, text XXXXX Health, Standard 28/04/2016

Is used in the formation of Person—letters of given and family name, text XXXXX Health, Superseded 28/04/2016, Community Services (retired), Standard 14/09/2009

Implementation in Data Set Specifications:Help on this term
All attributes +

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 07/12/2005

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 06/03/2009

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 22/12/2009

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 07/12/2011

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 08/05/2014

Cancer (clinical) DSS Health, Superseded 14/05/2015

Cancer (clinical) NBPDS Health, Standard 14/05/2015

Health care client identification DSS Health, Superseded 03/12/2008

Health care client identification DSS Health, Retired 20/03/2013

Health care provider identification DSS Health, Superseded 04/07/2007

DSS specific attributes +

Health care provider identification DSS Health, Superseded 03/12/2008

DSS specific attributes +

Health care provider identification DSS Health, Retired 20/03/2013

DSS specific attributes +

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program NBEDS 2014-18 Health, Superseded 06/09/2018

DSS specific attributes +

SAAP Administrative National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) Community Services (retired), Retired 01/07/2011

DSS specific attributes +

Surveillance of healthcare associated infection: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia NBPDS Health, Standard 15/11/2012

Tasmanian Demographics Data Set - 2016 Tasmanian Health, Archived 05/07/2017

DSS specific attributes +
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