Bill and I met through work, when he and I were speaking at a resources industry conference.
As the head of the Australian Workers’ Union, he was the headline act, talking to hundreds; and I was off-off-Broadway, in a steering group.
Listening with my boss to his address about people and work in the future, I agreed with his central premise but felt he hadn’t made enough of the importance of women’s emergence in the workforce, and, afterward, I told him.
The following year, our paths crossed again when he was travelling to mining and manufacturing sites to talk to union members about government policies and I was working for Australia’s largest manufacturer of cement.
Bill had become very well known in Australia as a union leader in 2006, when the Beaconsfield mine collapsed and two men were trapped and another killed.
He became the conduit between the people on the ground and the rest of the country, who were watching it unfold on their TVs.
Listen to Chloe Shorten speak to Mia Freedman on the latest episode of No Filter:
I was in the slow and difficult process of separation from my first husband, and it was a very stressful time for my family.
My children and I moved into a place a few streets away from the family home. They went back and forth but mostly were with me, being so young.
It was very important to me that they were connected to their dad. We lived like this for almost a year and a half before I decided my future was with Bill.
Living through that period was tough for all of us. The pain, loss, disruption, the difficulty for the children; trying to live in two homes, the economic losses. And living it through the lens of a camera was a particular trial. I wonder if the public nature of my divorce and remarriage compounded the anxiety I felt.
But this also led me to think the stigma associated with, and stereotyping of, remarriage might hinder the establishment, strength and wellbeing of blended families, and was when I started scouring academic journals. Looking back, I think it was this that gave me the courage to write about the topic.