On behalf of the Victorian Government and the Victorian Labor Party, I offer my condolences to the friends and family of Joan Kirner, especially her husband, Ron, and their three children, Michael, Kate and David.

Joan was a teacher and over the course of her life she gave us all a lesson in the meaning of dignity. She stood proud and firm in the face of difficulty. She smiled often and she meant it.

Education was the bedrock of Joan’s life and schools were the foundation of her career. She was an ordinary Victorian parent, but she had an extraordinary vision for the future of our children.

Joan implemented one of the biggest reforms of the era: the Victorian Certificate of Education. It standardised the curriculum and judged students on their skills. Ultimately, it made schools fairer.

She was the first woman to serve as Premier of Victoria. She governed with determination under ceaseless pressure. Her achievements were many. When she left public office, her ambition for change was undeterred.

Through her decades of advocacy for gender equality, she fundamentally changed our party and our society. In the process, she raised a generation of Victorian Labor women – one of whom became Prime Minister.

In her last years, Joan gave us so much of her time. We’re thankful for every second of it. Her humour kept us humble and her counsel was always welcome. She was a teacher to the end.

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.

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