Obituary & Memorial Notice - Joan R Dwyer OAM


Bar Roll No: 1377

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death of Joan Dwyer OAM, who passed away peacefully last week at the age of 79, after a five-year battle with cancer.

A celebration of the life of Joan Dwyer OAM will be held at Leonda by the Yarra, 2 Wallen Road, Hawthorn on Thursday 19 September at 1.30 for 2pm.

Joan studied Arts and Law at Melbourne University, where she also worked as a research assistant to the Dean, Professor Zelman Cowen, as he then was.

Joan was admitted to practise in 1963 then left to travel overseas where, following a chance meeting, she took a position with Farrer & Co, Solicitors, who acted for the Queen and other members of the royal family. On her return to Melbourne she worked as a solicitor with a number of firms specialising in different practice areas, before taking a break from paid employment to raise a family with her husband, Dr John Dwyer QC

Joan came to the Bar in 1978 and read with Ron Meldrum QC, who remained a lifelong friend. She established a general practice.

In 1981, Joan was appointed Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Board for a three-year term, during which time she assisted with amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 1977 (Vic) in order to extended protection against discrimination to people with a disability.

In 1984, Joan was appointed as a Senior Member of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a position she held for 21 years until her retirement in 2005. During this time she presented papers at conferences on areas of interests, including access to justice for people with severe communication impairment. Joan was a member of the DEAL Communication Centre Committee (now the Ann McDonald Centre), which provides assessment and therapy, including communcation technology, for people with little or no functional speech.

In 2005, Joan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly through the DEAL Communication Centre and to the law.

Sincere condolences to Joan’s family, especially her husband Dr John Dwyer QC.

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