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Thelma Joyce Harvey (1926–1999)

by Mark Adler

She was one of those quiet, efficient backroom people, essential to every organisation — and her colleagues in the NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party loved her for it. Johno Johnson, former President of the Legislative Council, called her quite simply "the anchor of head office". That's why Labor luminaries turned out in droves for the funeral of Joyce Harvey, who has died at the age of 73, having lost her second battle (she won the first 20 years ago) with cancer.

Thelma Joyce Harvey started work at the ALP's head office in Sussex Street, City, in June 1971.

For many years she'd been a close friend of the late Kath Anderson, who by 1971 was a Labor member of the Upper House, the head of the Sydney County Council and the Sussex Street office manager.

Anderson asked Harvey to be the tea lady for a couple of hours a day. By the end of 1991, when she retired after 20 years of full-time employment, Harvey had worked in the ALP records department, had organised numerous fundraisers for the party and had provided invaluable assistance to party officials.

Hers was a busy life: during her time at Sussex Street, there were 10 Federal elections and seven NSW polls, not to mention five general secretaries, three Labor prime ministers and two Labor premiers.

Harvey was the mainstay for Anderson in organising fund-raising functions during Neville Wran's time as Premier. These were the party's first ventures into fundraising functions with the business community, the big end of town, and included Wran's "$100-a-head" dinners.

Harvey worked always in the background, never fazed, coping with all of the dramas produced by events involving large numbers of people — all with healthy egos.

A decade after she had started at Sussex Street, Deirdre Grusovin took over Anderson's fund-raising role; Grusovin and Harvey then worked together for several years, particularly on the big fund-raisers of the Hawke years.

During the 1980s, the Harvey family moved to Evaline Street, Campsie. She joined the local ALP branch and swiftly became one of the people who kept it going.

In December 1991, she retired from Sussex Street but not from politics. For a time, she worked for Kevin Moss in his Campsie office and for two years was ALP Campsie branch secretary.

She was a true believer in the ALP, its policies and its people, both at parliamentary and local government levels. She was also staunchly loyal; when she gave that loyalty, it was on a personal level and it was for keeps.

Harvey was a woman of deep religious faith, committed to the Anglican parish of St John's, Campsie, at which her funeral was held. Faith in the Almighty may have been especially useful given that she was a follower of the Rabbitohs.

Perhaps the best measure of what people thought of her came in her last illness. She had to travel daily to the Mater Hospital in St Leonards, but had no car and faced a draining journey by public transport. A small group of friends, and their allies from St Vincent de Paul in Bankstown, came up with a roster to drive her there and back each day.

She is survived by her husband, Scott, and son, Roger.

Original publication

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Mark Adler, 'Harvey, Thelma Joyce (1926–1999)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Jones, Thelma Joyce

Windsor, New South Wales, Australia


19 January, 1999 (aged ~ 73)
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (uterine)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Political Activism