From the Oral History collection: Joan Child
Joan Child, AO, was Australia’s first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Her death on 23 February 2013 has been mourned by all sides of politics. When elected in 1974, she was the Australian Labor Party’s first female Member of the House and only the fourth woman to sit in the House. Born in Melbourne in 1921, she became Speaker in 1986 but resigned from the position, now in the new Parliament House, in August 1989.
In this excerpt, she recalls her early experience with seating arrangements—in the Caucus and in the Chamber where she sat across from a self-styled misogynist. Aged 87 at the time of interview, her voice is strong, engaging and lively. Her philosophy of parliament comes through in the excerpt, as does her love for the old “warm and welcoming” provisional building.
Joan Child was recorded for the Old Parliament House Political and Parliamentary Oral History Project by Susan Marsden, an interviewer for the National Library of Australia, in 2009 when the cooperative project began. The full interview is available online via the National Library’s online catalogue. It can also be listened to upon request at the Museum of Australian Democracy. Please contact the museum prior to your visit and quote the reference number OHI 229.