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Question Time: Infertility

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Madeleine Morris, Cathy Anderson, Robert Reith, Julia Leigh and Chloe Allworthy

Today, around one in six Australian couples of reproductive age are unable to conceive but their options are better now than ever. IVF technology has accelerated and become commonplace; increasing numbers of Australians are turning to international surrogacy.

State and federal governments have struggled, however, to keep apace with these changes. The growing industry around assisted reproduction is largely privatised and third-party reproduction avenues raise many ethical questions, from gender selection to the commodification of children to the rights of donor-conceived children and commercial surrogate mothers.

At this Question Time discussion, we delve into the personal, ethical and legal implications of infertility and its treatment. Tune in for a look into the big business of baby-making in Australia today, hosted by Madeleine Morris with guests Cathy Anderson (VARTA), Robert Reith (Surrogacy Australia), author and filmmaker Julia Leigh and donor-conceived student Chloe Allworthy.


Portrait of Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow Up To Be Happy, Healthy and Smart, published by Finch. 

Portrait of Chloe Allworthy

Chloe Allworthy

Chloe Allworthy is a secondary school teacher currently studying for a Master of Social Work. She wishes to work with donor conceived individuals after completing her study, helping them connect with their donors. Chloe enjoys working alongside donors and donor-conceived people to educate and advocate for changes. She has spoken at the International Social Services Conference, on ABC's Lateline, Channel Ten's The Project and more.

Portrait of Robert Reith

Robert Reith

Robert Reith is president of Surrogacy Australia. Since its inception in 2010, Surrogacy Australia has grown to become the peak body for consumers involved in surrogacy.

Surrogacy Australia aims to enhance the understanding of, and improve access to, best practice surrogacy arrangements through education, support, advocacy and research. After 10 years of trying to start a family, Robert and his wife welcomed a baby girl in January 2017, delivered via their sister-in-law surrogate.

Portrait of Cathy Anderson

Cathy Anderson

Cathy Anderson is a social worker with over 25 years' experience. As Senior Counsellor and Community Educator at the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), Cathy provides support to people who are donor-conceived, parents who have used a donor, donors, and their families. This includes assisting people to connect with others with whom they are linked as a result of donor treatment.

Cathy has previously worked in the Adoption field, including with Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND), where she provided counselling support to people affected by adoption, and to Forgotten Australians or Former Victorian Wards. Cathy has personal experience of assisted reproductive treatment, as both of her daughters were conceived through IVF.

Portrait of Julia Leigh

Julia Leigh

Julia Leigh is the author of two internationally acclaimed and widely translated novels, The Hunter (1999) and Disquiet (2008). Her film Sleeping Beauty was nominated for the Palme D'Or at the Festival de Cannes 2011. Her most recent work of non-fiction, Avalanche, was named as one of the Best Memoirs of 2016 at

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