Brotherhood of St Laurence

Paper presented to Australian Social Policy Conference: Social Policy in a Complex World University of New South Wales, Sydney 6-8 July 2011 SCHOOL TO WORK

Australian longitudinal research with a social policy focus has often been quantitative rather than qualitative. The longitudinal Life Chances Study offers the opportunity to explore young people's real life stories from infancy to age 18, both from the perspectives of their parents and, as they grow up, in their own words. The stories can illustrate important processes, ranging from financial disadvantage to parenting styles to career choices. The Life Chances Study has followed the lives some 140 children who were born in the same inner Melbourne suburb in 1990. The families are from diverse income levels and ethnic groups. The study has a particular interest in the reduction of child poverty and social exclusion. The paper presents one family's story to explore issues of policy as the study child grows up through the 1990s and early 2000s. It asks what life stories can tell us about the accumulation of advantage and disadvantage for young people growing up in Australia today and about the effectiveness of our social support system in assisting families as their raise their children. These are considered in the context of changes in Australian society over the last 20 years.

Can-life stories inform policy.pdf

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