Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

Question Time: The Modern Family

Listen to Question Time: The Modern Family

Remember that old Ford ad: ‘The average young Australian family has 2.3 children’? Today it seems quaint and dated; it probably seemed dated to a lot of people when it first aired back in the 1990s.

The traditional nuclear family – with two heterosexual parents and two or more children – is on the decline. Reduced birth rates, the rise of blended families, increasing numbers of same-sex parents and a growing Child-free by Choice movement mean our ideas around family are shifting.

Photo of Madeleine Morris, Chloe Shorten, Caroline Baum and Alyena Mohummadally

Madeleine Morris, Chloe Shorten, Caroline Baum and Alyena Mohummadally

In this Question Time discussion, hosted by Madeleine Morris, our audience pose questions to three fascinating panellists, each with a different take on the notion of family in 2017. Chloe Shorten is a public affairs specialist, mother in a blended family with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the author of Take Heart: A Story of Modern StepfamiliesCaroline Baum is a journalist and the author of Only, a literary memoir about being an only child. Alyena Mohummadally is a lawyer, primary teacher and queer activist raising two boys.

Are notions of ‘average’ and ‘ordinary’ oppressive and limiting when it comes to ideas around family? What, if anything, are we losing with the decline of the nuclear family? And, if it truly takes a village to raise a child, do we need to expand our ideas of family even further?

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.