In recent decades, non‐farm employment has become prevalent and an important source of income for Australian farm families. However, models identifying the relative significance of the socioeconomic variables influencing non‐farm employment participation rates have never been estimated in Australia. In this paper, a bivariate probit model of non‐farm employment participation rates was estimated, using information from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARE) 1994–1995 surveys. It was found that the participation decision of the farm operator and spouse is likely to be jointly determined, that non‐farm employment participation increased at a declining rate with age among farmers and that university education enhances the participation rates particularly among spouses. Participation rates were also higher among spouses with lower other income and with no dependent children.