What can we do to prevent the transmission of disadvantage within families and across generations?

A persistent problem for all Australians

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (the Life Course Centre) is a national research centre uniquely positioned to tackle the intergenerational transmission of deep and persistent disadvantage in Australian families, and to lead the international effort on this important issue.

Disadvantage breaks down social cohesion and has damaging social and economic costs. It has devastating consequences over the life course for those who experience it as well as their children, the wider community, and the economy. Issues such as poverty, homelessness, lack of education, ill-health, low levels of labour market participation and crime are all negative impacts of disadvantage.

A great deal is known about social disadvantage and its consequences for those individuals and social groups who experience it. But the paradox continues. Why do some individuals, families, groups and communities experience deep and persistent disadvantage and why is it so difficult to provide these people with the skills, opportunities and resources to live the life they choose and realise life’s full potential?

The Life Course Centre vision is to leverage evidence-based research to develop new knowledge, technology and practices to benefit people living in disadvantage. Our goal is to discover the causes and mechanisms of disadvantage, characterised by the spread of social and economic poverty within families and across generations, and to develop innovative solutions to reduce deep and persistent disadvantage.

Understanding the key drivers of disadvantage, how these are strengthened or mitigated at specific stages of the life course, and how best to intervene to reduce or reverse these drivers, lies at the core of the Life Course Centre’s mission.

To realise this mission requires transforming the way social science research is undertaken in Australia. The Life Course Centre is doing this by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of research leaders, forming partnerships with government and non-government agencies, and developing new research translation strategies to deliver life-changing solutions to benefit those living in disadvantage.

Life Course Centre

The Life Course Centre is committed to leveraging evidence-based research to develop innovative new practices to benefit people living in disadvantage. Our mission is to identify the mechanisms underlying the transmission of disadvantage across generations and within families over the life course, and to translate our findings to enable the delivery of policies and programs with real-world impact.

Centre Partners

Established in 2014, the Life Course Centre is administered by The University of Queensland and is a collaboration with The University of Sydney, The University of Melbourne and The University of Western Australia. The Centre also has a wide range of collaborative links to national and international partners, including research institutions in North America, Europe and Asia.


Strategic Plan

Our strategic objective is to identify the causes and mechanisms of deep and persistent disadvantage, to develop and trial innovative new policy and practice solutions to reduce disadvantage, to train the next generation of research leaders, and to build capacity across government, non-government and community organisations.



The Life Course Centre’s major resource is people: our researchers, students, partners and stakeholders. In the Life Course Centre, we support our people by delivering transparent and inclusive governance within the framework of a strong strategy and shared vision. The Centre’s governance structure is designed to allow a flow of information and ideas to the Centre Executive.