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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Joan Kirner

c. 1990
Rennie Ellis

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 62.0 cm x 47.0 cm, image: 44.0 cm x 29.0 cm)

Joan Kirner AC (1938-2015) was the first female premier of Victoria. Daughter of a fitter and turner and a homemaker, she attended the selective University High School, graduating from the University of Melbourne to teach in state schools. With her three children at public schools also, she became active in the Victorian Federation of State School Parents’ Clubs, serving as its president from 1971 to 1977 and its executive officer until 1982. In 1980 she was awarded the AM for community service. Four years after joining the Labor Party, aligning herself with its socialist left faction, she entered the Legislative Council in 1982. On the front bench of the Cain government, she promoted environmental initiatives including Landcare. Having been elected to the Legislative Assembly for the seat of Williamstown, she took on the education portfolio, in which she was notably effective, phasing in the Victorian Certificate of Education and increasing retention rates. In August 1990 she replaced John Cain as Premier, but in 1992 she was replaced by Liberal Jeff Kennett. After leaving parliament Kirner was president of the Victorian ALP, remaining active in social justice and the environment and strongly supportive of progressive women in politics. She was co-author of The Women’s Power Handbook (1999). She was made AC in 2012 for her work to establish equality of opportunity for women, alongside her political success. Her concerns and achievements inform the annual Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006
© Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
www.RennieEllis.com.au

Artist and subject

Rennie Ellis (age 50 in 1990)

Joan Kirner (age 52 in 1990)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Joan Kirner
Joan Kirner
Joan Kirner
Joan Kirner

Joan Alone

Magazine article by Julia Gillard AC, 2015

Julia Gillard pays poignant tribute to her friend and mentor, the late Joan Kirner, Victoria’s first and only female premier.

Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia

No shirt, no service

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Bon Scott and Angus Young photographed by Rennie Ellis are part of a display celebrating summer and images of the shirtless male.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency