Who is she?
Joan Kirner became Victoria’s first (and only) female Premier in 1990 and, to most people, is remembered for her cartoon depictions wearing a polka dot dress and her performance of I Love Rock n’ Roll on The Late Show.
Joan trained as a teacher and was appointed to the Schools Commission in 1973, entered politics and was Education and Conservation Minister in the Cain Victorian Government. She founded Landcare, established the Victorian Certificate of Education, set up the Rural Womens’ Network and was Premier from 1990-92.
After her political career, Joan founded EMILY’s List, an organisation devoted to helping Labor women get elected to Parliament. She also co-wrote the The Women’s Power Handbook, a “how to” guide for women negotiating a patriarchal world of power.
Joan was a mentor to so many women in politics, including Julia Gillard, who says she was “the truest of friends”.
Why should we thank her?
Joan really was one of those people who went into politics to help others, and in particular, the plight of women. EMILY’s List has helped 155 women into Parliaments across Australia, including Julia Gillard and Anna Bligh. These women have led important changes for all of us, such as abortion law reform and paid maternity leave provisions.
“There is no such thing as being non-political. Just by making a decision to stay out of politics you are making the decision to allow others to shape politics and exert power over you.”