Joan Williams was a prominent member of the Western Australian branch of the Communist Party of Australia. She was politically active from the 1920s, but began her career in journalism as a young woman already imbued with a strong political consciousness. The networks fostered through her membership in an elite group of Western Australian left-wing radicals were critical to the foundation of numerous Western Australian women's and peace organisations. Under the pen name Justina Williams she wrote short stories, historical works, poems, biography and her autobiography Anger and Love. She was awarded the Order of Australia Medal accepting it on behalf of her "unrecognized sisters who serve the community".
As a young journalist Joan Williams learned about the organisational strategies operating within the European peace and women's movements and began a lifetime involvement with Perth's left-wing intelligentsia. Committed to initiating social change through public education Williams joined the Communist Party in 1939 drawn in by their concerns for social justice, women's equality and opposition to war and fascism. Joan Williams' activism spanned over fifty years. She was a foundation member of the Modern Women's Club, the Western Australian Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity and the International Women's Day Committee. In the 1950s Williams' focus shifted to the concern for nuclear disarmament and, joining forces with the members of the Union of Australian Women, she established a locally based Waterside Workers Federation Women's Committee to support strike action occurring at the time. In the early 1970s Williams became a foundation member of Women's Liberation and the Women's Electoral Lobby.
c. 1935 - c. 1960
Career in journalism active
View the full record at
Australian Women's Register