Alison asks:

I have a groom who is a foreign national, but this is not the first time he lived in Australia – he lived here as a child as well. Does ‘Total Period of Residency’ only refer to his most recent stint, or is it a sum of all the times he has lived here?
To me, “total” would suggest all times added together, but it is also written in such a way that suggests people would only have lived here in a singular (not multiple) period. Confusing!
I know this is for ABS, so the BDM care factor is probably low, but would like to try to be accurate.
The answer to this question is actually that we simply don’t have an answer. I’ve asked about this a couple of times (most recently when the Guidelines 2018 were out for consultation) and never received a satisfactory response, probably because literally nobody cares. I can’t even find that the ABS has reported on this in recent memory; it’s just one of those things that’s left over on the form and is pretty meaningless. Because I can’t find any recent reporting or analysis associated with this question, I have no idea what they were looking for in asking it, so therefore it’s impossible to know whether we should be including every day they’ve ever spent in Australia. We expect that this item will not be included on the next version of the NOIM (whenever that is coming…)
When I’ve faced a situation like this, I’ve tended to just use their most recent period of residence and not worry about any time they spent here as a child etc.