The Wheeler Centre
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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.
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 Stepfamilies. Caroline 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?
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.
Chloe Shorten is a public affairs specialist, and the author of Take Heart: A Story for Modern Stepfamilies.
Chloe has been committed to improving the lives of women, children and people with disabilities. She is the mother of three marvellous children – Rupert, Georgette and Clementine – and is married to Bill Shorten, the leader of the Federal Opposition. Chloe also likes to sing jazz in her spare time.
Caroline Baum is a respected journalist and presenter. She has worked for the BBC, ABC, Time Life Books, Vogue magazine (UK and Australia), was the founding editor of Good Reading magazine and the editorial director of Booktopia.
Alyena Mohummadally is a Pakistani-Australian queer Muslim woman who spent many years as a community legal centre lawyer before recently retraining as a primary school teacher.
She is currently writing a cookbook on modern Australian cuisine with a Pakistani twist, and her two young sons are her favourite people to cook for.