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Shewcroft, Joyce Eileen (1912 - 2001)


28 August 1912
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
28 October 2001
Bilgola Plateau, New South Wales, Australia
Barrister, Lawyer, Legal advisor, Poet and Writer
Alternative Names
  • J. Shewcroft (pen name)
  • Shoecroft, Joyce (common misspelling)


Joyce Shewcroft has been described as 'the first female corporation lawyer in Australia'. She achieved the additional distinction of being the country's first female chair of a credit union when she chaired the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) credit union, which she also co-founded. She was the first woman in New South Wales to qualify for the Bar through private study and the Barristers' Admission Board examination. Admitted to the Bar on 29 May 1942 while in the employ of the ABC, she did not go into private practice until the late 1970s, instead remaining with the ABC for more than three decades, during which time she became its legal advisor. A motivated and able student, Shewcroft graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney on 15 April 1953. She was secretary-treasurer of the PEN Club (Sydney branch), wrote prize-winning poetry, and scripts for radio. She was honorary legal advisor to the NSW Medical Women's Association and the Royal Academy of Dance. Shewcroft succeeded Nerida Goodman (nee Cohen) as the second president of the Women Lawyers' Association of New South Wales and was a member of the Association's Research Committee. On 31 December 1977 she was awarded an OBE for services to the ABC and the law. Shewcroft was later appointed by the Australian Council For Overseas Aid as a commissioner of an Independent Inquiry into East Timor.

Sources used to compile this entry: Harris, Jennifer, 'Trailblazer, lawyer, poet - a life of firsts', Sydney Morning Herald, 7 December 2001; O'Brien, Joan M., 'A History of Women in the Legal Profession in New South Wales', MA thesis, Department of History, University of Sydney, 1986. Also available at; Women at the New South Wales Bar: The Years to 1975, 2011,; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1943, Sydney: Alfred Henry Pettifer, Acting Government Printer, 1943, p. 78 New South Wales Law Almanac for 1964, V. C. N. Blight, Government Printer, Sydney, 1964, pp. 76, 105; 1965, pp. 79, 108;1966, pp. 81, 110; 1978, p. 68, 94; 1979, p. 69, 95; 1988, pp. 83, 124; The University of Sydney Calendar Supplement for the Year 1954, Sydney: A. H. Pettifer Government Printer, Publisher to the University, 1954, p. 314; The Ryerson Index (See: 'Shewcroft, Joyce Eileen', The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 October 2001); 'Poetry reading by Joyce Shewcroft', OCSC WorldCat,, accessed online 6 March 2016; 'Joyce Shewcroft', AustLit,, accessed online 7 January 2016;

Marina Loane

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