Dr Joan Margaret Redshaw was our family doctor for many years. She was kind and gentle with a relaxed and happy nature. My mum and her friends, wanting to wear pierced earrings, lined up at Dr Redshaw’s surgery where she pierced their ears with a needle, antiseptic and a cork. I made a hasty retreat.1 Here is a little more of this remarkable woman’s story…
Dr Redshaw was born in Sydney in 1921 and studied medicine at the University of Sydney where she graduated with honours.2 At the end of WWII she travelled to England and completed postgraduate studies in paediatrics working at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. At the age of 26, Redshaw was the first woman to work as a ship’s surgeon on the Orient line and on one trip famously performed an appendectomy on the Red Sea.3 While working on the ship “Orontes” she met Captain Arthur Strong and they were married in 1949.4
In 1952 Redshaw moved to Nabiac where she established her surgery in Clarkson Street and worked in Nabiac Hospital.5 Joan worked tirelessly for her community particularly in areas of women’s welfare. In 1966 she was the first Australian woman to serve on the board of QUOTA International where she focused on the advancement of girls and those with hearing and speech impairments.6 In 1975 she was chosen for the ‘Women’s Advisory Board to the NSW Premier’ where she made a stand about violence against women.7 It was around this time she opened a surgery at Tuncurry.8
In 1980 Redshaw was elected World President of the Medical Women’s International Association9 and in 1981 received a ‘Member of the Order of Australia (AM)’.10 Her positive impact on, and achievements in the local and international community are astounding and numerous. She declared in 1975 “I’m not a feminist” but by today’s definition of the term she most definitely was.11 Joan passed away at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle on 10 May 1994.12
Authors: Marilyn Boyd and Janine Roberts
1 Memories from Marilyn Boyd.
2 Northern Champion, 23 October 1951, 1.
3 The Age, 20 July 1948, 5.
4 SMH, 14 January 1949, 11; Sunday Herald, 24 April 1949, 11.
5 Northern Champion, 23 October 1951, 1.
6 Canberra Times, 12 July 1966. 10.
7 Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 May 1975, 16.
8 Ancestry.com.au, Electoral roll Lyne, Forster, 1972.
9 The Bulletin, Vol. 101, No. 5239, 25 November 1980, 21.
10 Canberra Times, 13 June 1981, 11.
11 Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 May 1975, 16; https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/feminist
12 Strong family information.
13 Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 May 1975, 16.