Today, VCOSS joins with the whole community to mourn the passing of Joan Kirner, former Premier of Victoria and powerful advocate for disadvantaged people.
Joan Kirner was perhaps best known as Victoria’s first female Premier from 1990-1992. Joan was elected to parliament in 1982. Her ministries included Conservation, Forest and Lands, and Education. She was Deputy Premier and during her time as Premier held the position as Minister for Women’s Affairs. Ms Kirner was opposition leader from October 1992 to March 1993 and retired from Parliament in 1994.
Joan Kirner had a long history of political activism, community advocacy and the empowerment of disadvantaged Victorians, for which she was recognised throughout her life. In 2012 Joan was awarded the Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia for her eminent service to the Parliament of Victoria and to the community through contributions to conservation initiatives, gender equality, the pursuit of civic rights and the advancement of social inclusion in Victoria.
Joan Kirner made significant contributions to the recognition, empowerment and mentoring of women throughout her political and community life in Victoria. She co-wrote the bestselling book The Women’s Power Handbook with Moira Rayner. Published in 1999, the book was designed to give women the tools and strategies to get keep and use their power. In 1996 Joan Kirner co-founded EMILYS’s List Australia, a political network to support the election of more progressive Labour women to Parliament.
Joan was the chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee in Victorian Communities (MACVIC) during 2005-08. In this time she visited over 200 communities and as the honorary Ambassador for Victorian Communities took an enormous personal interest in the success of numerous community groups, in particular those in disadvantaged locations (such as the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, and rural and regional Victoria), and those run by and within the Aboriginal community.
VCOSS was privileged to have worked with Joan Kirner over many years to advance the cause of disadvantaged Victorians. Despite serious health constraints, Joan made herself available for numerous events for VCOSS over the years, generously sharing her wisdom and experiences.
Joan Kirner leaves a powerful legacy as an advocate and pioneer who made Victoria a better, fairer and more socially just community.