Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Portraits and Personalities of Townsville: Joan Innes Reid, a Tropical Odyssey

Joan Innes Reid
Image courtesy of
JCU Corporate Archives
Joan Innes Reid was remarkable for the type of person she was, as much as what she achieved in her lifetime. Her qualities of “vision; compassion; leadership; energy; [and] dogged determination,” rounded by qualifications in not only social work but literature, languages and visual art, defined her.

The breadth of her professional and personal interests were underpinned by a vision of community well-being which went well beyond access to human services. As a result, she helped to establish the numerous medical, humanitarian and cultural institutions we take for granted in Townsville today.

She is recalled in the history records as a pioneering social worker, recipient of an Order of Australia, first woman councillor (and deputy mayor) in Townsville, and first woman to be awarded an honorary degree by James Cook University. However, it will be rather the individuals whose lives she touched in her determination to build their confidence, develop their skills, empower them, educate them and link them to community that will be the real testament to her life’s work.

"Planning for People in Natural Disaster"
by Joan Innes Reid
Dr Joan Innes Reid’s association with James Cook University, began in 1976 when she joined the staff as senior tutor in Behavioural Sciences. The Joan Innes Reid prize in social work, awarded by the university, is named in her honour. Mike Reynolds, former mayor of Townsville, wrote of Joan Innes Reid: “Sometimes one person stands out in a community for their courage and determination in working for the betterment of those around them – Joan Innes Reid is such a person.”

The Special Collections holds not only professional writings by Joan Innes Reid, but also Tropical Odyssey of a Pioneer Social Worker in North Queensland, written by Joan Innes Reid in collaboration with Ros Thorpe.


Butterworth, Lee. 2009. “Reid, Joan Innes (1915-2001).” In The Australian Women’s Register. Melbourne, Australia: The Australian Women's Register.

Lee, Ruth. 2014. “Reid, Joan Innes.” In The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-century Australia, edited by Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Women's Archives Project.

Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui 
JCU PhD History Candidate

No comments: