Experts from universities, governments and NGOs across seven countries are set to tackle urgent problems of deep and persistent disadvantage through a $28 million centre led by the University of Queensland and launched in Melbourne last night.
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) , administered by the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research, brings together leading social scientists from Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Ireland, national and state government agencies and NGOs.
Australian Research Council Chief Executive Officer Professor Aidan Byrne said the ARC-funded centre would play an important role in tackling the global challenge of social disadvantage.
“It will pull together perspectives from a great range of sources to solve important problems and make a real difference to the lives of children and their families,” Professor Byrne said.
University of Queensland Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Max Lu said the centre demonstrated confidence in Australia’s top social scientists.
“The Life Course Centre represents a vital opportunity for Australia to harness the knowledge and experience of a range of experts to make a comprehensive and innovative analysis of deep and persistent disadvantage,” Professor Lu said.
“It has outstanding potential to unlock the true promise of current and future generations of Australian children who are born into disadvantage.
“By focusing on solutions that help Australian families to break the cycle of social disadvantage, we will build communities that reap the benefits of social, economic and civic participation,” he said.
Professor Lu said the centre’s Director, UQ Professor Janeen Baxter, was at the forefront of research on family dynamics and wellbeing over the life course.
Professor Baxter said the centre was only the second social science Centre of Excellence to be funded by the ARC.
“Our research will make a real difference by showing how to prevent the transmission of disadvantage across generations and within families,” Professor Baxter said.
“This is a problem that is becoming more urgent and more intractable.
“Despite widespread economic growth and increasing prosperity for many people, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing and, worryingly, opportunities for social mobility across this divide are becoming weaker,” she said.
The launch was hosted by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, a Life Course Centre partner and a sponsor of next week’s Anti-Poverty week, from 12 to 18 October.
Life Course Centre partners also include Brisbane’s Wesley Mission, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, and the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
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