Sep 14, 2021 7:00 PM
Vanessa Mathews
The Changing Face Of Family In Australia Today

Families in Australia today come in many different shapes and sizes, so much so that we sometimes ask ourselves ‘What is a family?’.

There are the ‘traditional’ family structures of a married mum, dad and two children, and then there are the ‘non-traditional’ structures such as separated and divorced families, childfree, sole parent, blended, de facto and 'rainbow' same sex families. There is the ‘traditional way’ that children are brought into a family, and the 'non-traditional' ways such as adoption, foster care, IVF, surrogacy and kinship arrangements.

Whilst there is still a great deal about family that it 'traditional', there is much that is not. One thing we do know about family is that it is ever-changing - and what was once 'non- traditional' may now be commonplace, and that we should expect further patterns of change. We may or may not have control over the changes in family that we experience - sometimes the changes occur voluntarily and other times involuntarily.

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How do you feel about the changes in family that you have observed or experienced? What have you had to do to adapt to changes in family?
What do you think family will look like in the future?
How do we as a community manage changes in family?

Vanessa Mathews is an accredited family lawyer and mediator. Her work advising clients at times of major change in their family places her in a unique position to observe and understand changes in family in Australia and she has prepared an interesting and informative presentation called 'The Changing Face of Family in Australia Today'. Vanessa welcomes questions and discussion from her fellow Rotarians throughout her presentation.

Vanessa has degrees in Commerce, Social Work and Law. She operates a family law and mediation practice in Toorak. She has a particular interest in supporting family through change. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Malvern.