Professor Marie Bashir was born in Narrandera, New South Wales and is a medical graduate of the University of Sydney, a former medical resident officer of St Vincent’s Hospital and of The Children’s Hospital. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
After completion of her post graduate studies in psychiatry, she was appointed to establish the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Service to provide comprehensive specialist consultative services for young people with emotional and psychiatric problems. Her key interests have included child and adolescent depression, mental health issues affecting refugee and immigrant children, juvenile justice and Aboriginal health.
In 1987, she was appointed Director of the Community Health Services in the Central Sydney Area which enabled closer access to primary health care links with an emphasis on early childhood services, migrant and indigenous health, the health needs of elderly people, and communicable illness. Health promotion and health education strategies through a population health model were also key responsibilities.
In 1993, she was appointed Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney, and in 1994 the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for the Central Sydney Area. This was a time of major reform in mental health service delivery, which contributed to substantial change in the provision of public sector mental health services. Professor Bashir served on the Examinations Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and also on the Regional Issues Committee. She has established professional links with psychiatry departments in South East Asia, enabling educational exchange and placement of Asian colleagues for postgraduate experience in University of Sydney teaching hospital facilities. She has developed collaborative teaching programs between colleagues in Vietnam and Australian psychiatrists, and also with medical and nursing colleagues in Thailand.
Having had a special interest over many years in indigenous health, Professor Bashir has travelled extensively to visit remote communities in Central Australia, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land to gain a closer understanding of issues of culture and history which impact significantly on health. In 1995, in a partnership with the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern, she established the Aboriginal Mental Health Unit, which provides regular clinics and counselling at both the Aboriginal Medical Service in Sydney and mainstream centres. Links to some indigenous rural communities have also been developed through the availability of Telemedicine technology. She was appointed by the Hon Craig Knowles MP, Minister for Health, to chair the Implementation Group on Mental Health to oversee the development of further mental health services in New South Wales as part of the overall health reform process.
In March 2001, Professor Bashir was appointed Governor of New South Wales.
Her awards include Mother of the Year in 1971, and in 1988 she was appointed an Officer, and in 2001 a Companion in the Order of Australia. She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003.
In 2003 Professor Bashir received the Mental Health Princess Award, awarded by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand, for contribution to collaborative Mental Health programs between Australia and Thailand.
In 2004 she was made an Honorary Member of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and also elected as one of Australia’s Living National Treasures. In addition, in March she received The Writers’ Council Award in Beirut, Lebanon, and was invested as a Grand Officer in the National Order of the Cedar by His Excellency General Emile Lahoud, President of the Republic of Lebanon.
In 2006 she was invested by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO). Her Excellency also received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Sydney, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).
In 2007 Her Excellency was elected an Honorary Member of the New South Wales Masonic Club, and of The Australian Medical Association. She was also inducted as an Honorary Life Member of the Master Plumbers and Mechanical Contractors’ Association of New South Wales, and presented with an Honorary Contractor Licence for Plumbing, Draining and Gasfitting, issued by the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading. In 2007 Her Excellency also was the recipient of an Award for Notable Vocational Service from the Rotary Club of Sydney, and The Women’s College Alumnae Award from The University of Sydney. She also was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Sydney University Graduate Choir. On 1st June 2007 she was elected the 17th Chancellor of The University of Sydney.
In 2008 Her Excellency was appointed Honorary Commodore, Navy Warfare Training, Royal Australian Navy. She was also invested as an Honorary Fellow of the College of Nursing Australia.
In 2009 Her Excellency was invested as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur by His Excellency M. Michel Filhol, Ambassador, on behalf of His Excellency M. Sarkozy, President of the French Republic.
In 2012 Her Excellency was invested with the Lebanese National Order of the Cedar, Grand Cordon Grade, by the President of the Republic of Lebanon, His Excellency General Michel Sleiman.
Professor Bashir is married to Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE. They have two daughters and a son, and six grandchildren.