Honourable Joan Child AO

In 1986, Joan Child became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Honour Roll

Joan Child was born in Melbourne and educated at Camberwell Church of England Girls' Grammar School. Joan was widowed quite young and had to work at all manner of jobs to keep her children fed and schooled.

She joined and was active in the Union of Australian Women, particularly on equal pay and she became a key figure in the revival of the Labor Party in the seat of Henty in Victoria. Joan first stood as a political candidate in 1972 and for the next two years worked as an adviser to the Foreign Trade Minister, Dr Jim Cairns, specialising in the manufacturing industry.

In 1974, she won the seat of Henty and served 18 months as the first Labor woman in the House of Representatives in Victoria. She however lost this seat in Labor's landslide defeat in 1975. Joan then became the Executive Officer of the Victorian State Colleges' Staff Association (1976-78). Joan also worked as private secretary to Clyde Holding (MHR for Melbourne Ports) and Dr Gerard Vaughan (MLA for Glenhuntly).

In 1980, Joan was re-elected to the House of Representatives for Henty. After being successful in the 1983 election, she was chosen as the Chair of Committees and Deputy Speaker, thereby becoming the first woman to occupy the Speaker's Chair in Australia. In 1986, she was elected Speaker in the House of Representatives, a position she held from 1986-89. Joan was also appointed as Australia's permanent delegate to the European Parliament. Joan was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1990. She retired that year.