Her Excellency Prof. Marie BASHIR AC CVO
1950 - 1955
Governor of New South Wales
From Senior Student to Governor of New South Wales
“When the suggestion was made to me… to begin with I was absolutely spellbound and speechless. Thinking about it, it seemed to me to be symbolic about the way our country is advancing in a sophisticated manner, that it could consider asking not only a woman, but a woman whose work is in a field that is not always popular. It is unpopular to work in mental health, with the disadvantaged and with indigenous people. It is also unpopular to be counted among women who have children and work, women from non-English speaking backgrounds, women who have an opinion. It seemed to me that to reject such a high challenge would be an insult to the history of our State.”
Prof. Bashir chose the Women’s College for the press conference to respond to the announcement of her appointment as Governor. She stood in front of the stained glass window above Main staircase in the entrance hall for her front page picture. She considers her years at the Women’s College were greatly enriching, intellectually, spiritually and socially. This was due to the outstanding influence of the Principal, Miss H.E. Archdale, the Vice-Principal and physicist, Phyllis Nicol, as well as the interaction and enduring friendship with fellow students from home and abroad. This dynamic environment provided a catalyst for considerable cultural enlightenment, as well as the courage to challenge the ’status quo’ where injustice and inequality existed.
Prof. Bashir has had a long association with the Women’s College, which she attended from 1950 to 1955. She was Senior Student in 1954. In 1959 she was elected to Council, became Honorary Secretary in 1960 and served as Chair of Council from 1982 to 1990. She took up life membership of the Union in 1969.
Since 1993 Prof. Bashir has been Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney’s Department of Psychological Medicine. She is also Area Director, Mental Health Services, for the Central Sydney Area Health Service and a Consultant Psychiatrist to NSW Juvenile Justice facilities. Since 1996 she has been Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Services, Redfern and Kempsey. Prof. Bashir relinquished these positions to take up her new position in March 2001. In addition to her distinguished career, Dr Bashir was named Mother of the Year in 1971. She and her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, have three children and six grandchildren. She was Lady Mayoress from 1971 to 1973 when Sir Nicholas was Lord Mayor of Sydney. From 1982 to 1987 she was Foundation Director of the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Service. For two years from 1990, she served on the NSW Women’s Advisory Council. In 1988 Prof. Bashir was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her work with children and adolescents in the area of mental health.
She was appointed Chancellor of the University of Sydney in 2007.
Women’s College Journal, 2001, updated