Joan has been a long time activist for equality for women in employment, education and public life.
Joan was a foundation member of Women's Electoral Lobby, and with them lobbied for the NSW Anti-Discrimination ACT 1977 and reforms for women in relation to child care, employment, poverty, divorce law, inheritance taxes and education. She was also a founding member of Women In Education, lobbying for equal opportunity for girls and women in education in the years 1974-1990.
Joan was a teacher (1951-1974) and Research Officer, Royal Commission on Human Relationships (1975-76) and OIC, Social Development Unit, NSW Ministry of Education 1977-84. The latter's role was to advise the then NSW Government, the universities, TAFE colleges, schools and community organisations on discrimination and sexism issues in education at all levels, multicultural education and anti-discrimination legislation as it applied to education and employment in education.
Many of her initiatives provided models for national action in the area of women and girls education. Her expertise in the area of discrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action in education led were sought by the WA Government, private educational institutions in various states and by universities. She was a member of the Councils of both UNE and Macquarie University for many years in the 1980s and the early 1990s.
Since 1992, she has worked with women to explore the issues which limit women's participation in politics, and to increase the numbers of women in our parliaments and in Australian public life.
As well as organising various conferences, seminars, consultations and fund raising Annual dinners, Joan has been contributor to conferences, delivering numerous papers on issues relevant to discrimination against women in politics.
In 1988 Joan was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for "service to the development of equal opportunities for women and girls, particularly in education". In 2004 she was awarded the AO "for services to the community particularly through programs to encourage women's participation in political life "..."and educational and social reform".