Project Overview

Welcome to the Our Lives Project


Since 2006, we have been following a large cohort of young people from Queensland, Australia as they make the journey from adolescence into adulthood. Over this period we have consistently maintained contact with over 2000 young people through this process. Every two years, the participants have taken time out to let us know where they are, what they are doing, and where they want to go. As a consequence, we now understand more about the challenges young people in 21st century Australia are facing, and more about what they want for their future.

But the story doesn’t end here. 

The Our Lives cohort are now turning 30. They are facing new opportunities and new challenges. It is our ambition to follow these same individuals into the next phase of their lives. For instance, how will they negotiate the challenges of career, partnership, parenthood, or homeownership? What role will they play in their communities? How will their relationships with others change as they enter this next phase of life?   

These are the questions we now want to explore.

Let me take this opportunity to thank those who are participating in this study. We very much appreciate your willingness to be a part of the Our Lives project and without you this project would not have been possible. I very much hope that you will continue with your involvement.

Professor Zlatko Skrbiš

Project Description

The Social Futures and Life Pathways (“Our Lives”) project is a longitudinal study of young people from Queensland, Australia, who began high school in 2006 when they were aged 12/13 years. By tracking this cohort over time, the project assesses the impact of social, political and economic developments on educational, workforce, partnering, family and housing transitions in early adulthood. It enhances scholarly understanding and public policy formation in these domains by monitoring stability and change in the values, aspirations, health and well-being of young people as these transitions take place. 

The project combines large scale survey research with in-depth qualitative interviewing to assess how global uncertainty and social traditions, institutions and inequalities structure the life pathways of young people in Australia. The most recent survey (Wave 9) is being conducted in 2023 with the cohort aged 29/30 years old.


This project has five specific aims:

1. To track young people’s experiences of major life events, such as tertiary graduation, starting a full-time job, marriage and family formation, leaving the family home, and how these affect their values, behaviours and quality of life in early adulthood. 

2. To identify those characteristics of youth transitions which generate positive career, relationship, housing and health outcomes for young people, and those which expose young people to risks of unemployment, tertiary non-completion, residential & relationship instability, and poorer mental & physical well-being. 

3. To interrogate theoretical notions of ’emerging adulthood’, including configurations of structure and agency associated with particular transitional arrangements and how these vary across institutional contexts. 

4. To collect new data on a valuable longitudinal cohort, and analyse transitions from secondary schooling in adolescence, towards temporary or more permanent work, family, housing destinations in adulthood.

5. To use innovative social research methodologies, including longitudinal quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research to explain varied youth transitions and outcomes.

Research Team


Professor Zlatko Skrbis

Principal Chief Investigator

Zlatko Skrbis is a Professor of Sociology and Vice-Chancellor at Australian Catholic University. He has lead the Our Lives project since it began in 2006. Zlatko’s research focuses on the question of identities in transition, culture and migration.


Professor Bruce Tranter

Chief Investigator

Bruce Tranter  is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania. He has extensive experience in quantitative data analysis and survey research. Bruce Tranter’s research interests include the social and political influences on attitudes and action toward climate change, environmental social movements and their leaders and national identity.


Dr. Jonathan Smith

Chief Investigator

Jonathan Smith is a Senior Research Fellow at Australian Catholic University. He administers the day-to-day operation of the project and assists with implementing its research agenda. His research explores different facets of young adulthood in contemporary society, including work and study pathways, social and political attitudes, psychosocial well-being, and digital inequality.


Dr. Jacqueline Laughland-Booÿ

Chief Investigator

Jacqueline Laughland-Booy is a Senior Advisor (Research and Communications) in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at Australian Catholic University. As a sociologist, her research relates to the personal and professional pathways of young people as they transition from adolescence into adulthood, and the political engagement of young Australians. She is responsible for implementing the ‘Our Lives’ qualitative agenda.

Dr. Zareh Ghazarian

Chief Investigator

Zareh Ghazarian is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.Zareh’s teaching and research interests include political parties, political leadership, public policy, civic engagement and political knowledge. He is a leading commentator on politics and regularly appears on national and international news media including television, radio, newspapers and online outlets.

Former Chief Investigators

Professor Cameron Parsell (The University of Queensland; Waves 6 – 7)

Professor Clive Bean (Queensland University of Technology; Waves 4 – 5)

Professor Mark Western (The University of Queensland; Waves 1-3)

Professor David Hogan (National Institute of Education, Singapore; Wave 1)

Research Assistants

Maddison Cunningham

Maddison Cunningham is a Research Assistant with the Our Lives Project at Australian Catholic University. She completed a research internship with the project as part of her bachelor’s degree and now assists with the project’s qualitative research agenda.

PhD Students

Nathan McMillan

Nathan McMillan is a PhD Student at Monash University. Having completed his honours degree as a part of the Our Lives Project, he is now working on his PhD. His research focuses on the relationship between expectations and happiness among adolescents as they transition into adulthood.