THE HON JOAN KIRNER AC
Joan Kirner was a passionate feminist, community activist and Labor politician who, in 1990, became Victoria’s first, and to date only, female premier. Proud of her working-class origins, she credited her parents and grandparents with inspiring her community activism and labour politics.
When her three young children were in school, she became actively involved in improving the education system for all children through her work with the Victorian Federation of State School Parents Clubs and the Australian Council of State School Organisations.
Kirner entered state politics as Labor MLC for Melbourne West in 1982. She continued her strong support of state school education through the Disadvantaged Schools Program and the integration of children with disabilities within regular schools. She was also co-founder of Landcare, a community-based movement working to care for the land.
After leaving parliament in 1994, Kirner continued her activism in women’s organisations such as EMILY’s List Australia, which supports progressive women’s pathways into parliament.
Joan Kirner was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001. At the time of her death, Premier Daniel Andrews stated:
‘She fought every day for fairness. Our state is stronger for her service and our lives are greater for her friendship. She was our first female premier and because of her work, she won’t be the last.’