Research Programs

Our three research programs are producing in-depth knowledge of how disadvantage is entrenched in Australian society across the different levels of the individual, the community, and the system. The three tiers of People, Places and Opportunities not only reflect the factors comprising disadvantage, but they are also the key mechanisms for overcoming it. Through this structure, our research defines and measures the lived experiences of disadvantage in more detail than ever before, and produces innovative responses tailored to individual and community contexts. The evidence, capacity, partnerships and impact we deliver will inform personalised, community-based policies and programs to benefit Australian children and families suffering from disadvantage in their daily lives.

Research Program 1


Our People research program positions the Life Course Centre, and Australia, at the forefront of an emerging field of study – the cognitive science of disadvantage. This work represents a major innovation in the Centre’s research that investigates the two-way relationship between deep and persistent disadvantage and individual cognition, decision-making and choices.

Research Program 2


Our Places research program is generating transformational knowledge about the community dynamics of disadvantage. Where you grow up and where you live matters to disadvantage. These ‘places’ play a big part in determining whether you have access to quality schooling, higher education, employment, and other life opportunities.

Research Program 3


Our Opportunities research program focuses on structural access to opportunities in Australia. It examines existing opportunity structures and obstacles that hinder people from accessing seemingly available opportunities and drives evidence-informed decision-making about what works to assist Australian children and families to overcome deep and persistent disadvantage.