The Guardian • Issue #2084

Vale Joan Marjorie Coxsedge

1931 - 2024

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2084
Cold tea for Brandy – A Tale of Protest, Painting and Politics book cover (cropped)

Cold tea for Brandy – A Tale of Protest, Painting and Politics book cover (cropped).

Joan Coxsedge was born in Ballarat, Victoria.

She was a driving force in the Save Our Sons Movement which opposed conscription for the Vietnam War, and went to goal in 1971 for anti-conscription activities. Joan campaigned against the fascist Ustashe in 1972, opposed secret service organisations, and was founding Chair of the Committee for the Abolition of Political Police in 1973.

A member of the Australian Labor Party from 1967, she was the first Labor woman to be elected to the Victorian legislative Council as the Member for Melbourne West Province in July 1979. She served until 1992.

While in office she wrote and produced the newsletter, Hard Facts For Hard Times, from her Footscray office, in which she offered a left view of current local, national and international events. She wrote and distributed this from the 1980s to the mid-1990s.

Joan was a professional artist. She held four exhibitions of pen and wash drawings of historic buildings, and undertook a commission for the Builders Labourers Federation, drawing Green Bans buildings around Australia in 1975.

Joan campaigned for social justice most of her life. She was a gifted writer and inspiring public speaker in defense of the people in Palestine, against dictatorship in Chile against brutal attacks in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, in defense of human rights in El Salvador, defending the people’s movement in Nicaragua, in Cuba and huge range of other parts of the world.

In the 1980s Joan participated in an important Union delegation to Central America and that delegation went to try to help expose terrible civil war in Salvador that killed over 700,000 people. Joan also went to Central America to see the Socialist Revolution which was going on in Nicaragua.

She was a witness to devastating human right abuses in El Salvador and in Nicaragua – she saw a different political scene where the Socialist Zapatista government inspired by Cuba was organising a literacy campaign and working to provide health care and housing for ordinary Nicaraguans. As a result of this visit Joan wrote a fascinating book, Thank God for the Revolution, still worth reading.

Joan was a long-time member and a supporter of the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament (CICD), and, at 88, spoke at the CICD’s 60th Anniversary which was held on 10 November 2019. She described Donald Trump as “an unhinged crook who should be frog-marched into a padded cell, along with his equally unhinged advisers,” and of Australia’s “ grovelling relationship with the US, regardless of which individual inhabits the White House.”

In Joan’s words, “we must keep fighting for an independent socialist Australia.”

Cold tea for Brandy – A Tale of Protest, Painting and Politics is available from our shop.

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