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The Mother of All Questions



Event Status

Navigate some of the many complexities around choosing to start, or not to start, a family with a panel of writers and community advocates.

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Is it environmentally sustainable to have a child? What does it mean to be a single parent in Australia in 2023? Are abortions accessible in regional areas?

As the world faces increasing environmental, economic and social pressures, the decision to start a family is more complicated than ever, particularly when considered alongside issues such as infertility, access to abortion and IVF services, solo parenting and the many structural barriers to parenthood experienced by marginalised communities.

Writer Isabelle Oderberg’s forthcoming book Hard to Bear focuses on early pregnancy loss and miscarriage. Award-winning journalist Gina Rushton writes extensively about reproductive rights, and her book The Most Important Job in The World examines the inherent complexities of the choice to parent. The youngest First Nations woman to be elected to Federal Parliament, Victorian Senator Jana Stewart has worked at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and the Child Protection Service.

For this M/OTHER panel event, they come together to examine some of the considerations around choosing to start, or not to start, a family in an insightful and thought-provoking conversation hosted by feminist writer and organiser Karen Pickering.


Conversations in M/OTHER may include references to topics such as mental health, reproductive rights, and childbirth. If you need assistance with any of these issues, you can learn more and seek advice via the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE)Perintal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) and Beyond Blue.


Wheelchair accessible

Accessible toilets available

Please notify us of all access requirements when booking online so we can assist you with your visit. If you require further information, please contact reception on 03 9094 7800 or

Official Bookseller

The official bookseller for M/OTHER is Neighbourhood Books.

Isabelle Oderberg’s Hard to Bear will be published through Ultimo Press in April 2023. Pre-orders are available through the Ultimo Press website.


M/OTHER is a weekend of fearless conversation about the ways ‘motherhood’ is experienced, portrayed and labelled by those who mother, have been mothered, wish they were mothers, do not identify as mothers, cannot or do not want to mother, and by society at-large.




Gina Rushton

Gina Rushton is the author of The Most Important Job in the World and news editor of Crikey. Her work has been published in The Monthly, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Australia Associated Press, The Saturday Paper, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian. ... Read more

Isabelle Oderberg

Isabelle Oderberg is a journalist, writer and editor. She has worked for the Herald Sun, News Corp, Reuters, Dow Jones and Business Spectator and is currently the acting editor of Pro Bono News. Her first book Hard to Bear: Investigating the science and silence of miscarriage will be released in Apr... Read more

Jana Stewart

Senator Jana Stewart is a proud Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba woman from North-West Victoria, and mother to Jude and Ari.Jana is the youngest First Nations woman to be elected in Federal Parliament, and the first Aboriginal Labor Senator for Victoria.Jana’s personal and professional life has been ... Read more

Karen Pickering

Karen Pickering is a feminist writer and organiser. Her previous work includes running the events Cherchez La Femme and Girls On Film Festival, writing the books About Bloody Time and Doing It, and her next book on motherhood shock and the resulting trauma will be published by Pantera Press. She is ... Read more


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176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.