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Who are we?

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) was established in 2014 to tackle deep and persistent disadvantage (multi-generational poverty) in Australia.

The life course approach entails looking at critical life points (such as early childhood, schooling, transition to employment, marriage, parenthood, divorce, or retirement), to identify those points at which life circumstances have the biggest and most lasting impact—positively and negatively. In 2019 we were awarded funding for an expanded Centre for another seven year period, starting in 2021.

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The Life Course Centre’s aims and objectives

Up to 3 million Australians live below the poverty line, including nearly 750,000 children. It takes four generations, or more than 100 years, for Australian children who are born into low-income families to reach an average income, based on average parent to child mobility rates, and children born into families with a history of receiving income support are almost twice as likely as their more advantaged peers to need social assistance. Deep disadvantage persists across generations, resists simple solutions, and is experienced by individuals and families in a diversity of ways.

The Life Course Centre drives innovations in research and practice to respond to the multi-faceted and deeply personal transitions, disruptors, and exposures that characterise deep disadvantage as a wicked societal problem. Current solutions to disadvantage, even at the international leading edge, are based on methods of social intervention that average needs and responses across large population cohorts. Research from the Life Course Centre and its collaborators, however, has challenged the imprecision of using conventional population averages to measure and understand intergenerational disadvantage because it masks differential, and sometimes conflicting, trends within specific social groups and strata.

The Life Course Centre aims to deliver transformative research and translation to break the cycle of deep and persistent disadvantage for Australian children and families.

Our objectives support this vision:

Design personalised and community-based solutions, informed by life course theory and enabled through the diverse disciplines brought together in the new Centre.

Demonstrate international leadership in advanced research and social interventions to address disadvantage in ways that are truly responsive to individual need.

Build on the unprecedented systems and data access for the study of disadvantage made available through the inaugural Life Course Centre.

Extend developments in national policy-making through new collaborations that support evidence-informed action on
the ground to address disadvantage. Build Australian capacity and capability through training in life course analytics and interventions for early career researchers, supported by leading international scholars and cross-sector external partnerships.