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From Psychiatry to Politics
Grandmother, psychiatry professor, fighter for indigenous
rightsto these accomplishments, Marie Bashir now adds the
title of politician. Sworn in on March 1 as the first female governor
of Australias New South Wales state, the 70-year-old Bashir
said she would use her new role to bring ethnic groups closer together
and reduce poverty in the state.
We are fortunate and privileged to have a woman of such quality,
said New South Wales Premier Bob Carr at Bashirs inauguration.
In terms of experience and understanding, said Carr, there
has never been a more highly qualified governor of New South Wales.
Bashir, who grew up in the town of Narrandera, said she was always
instructed by her Lebanese-born parents to help those less fortunate
than herself. She gravitated to psychiatry as a way of addressing
Her work in that field has focused largely on the underprivileged.
In the 1970s, she was part of a team that helped Cambodian child
refugees integrate into Australian society. In 1997, she helped
found the group Women for Wik, a grassroots organization that supported
the Aboriginal Wik group in its struggle to gain land rights.
As governor, said Bashir, she will work to promote a cultured,
informed society where everyone has a seat at the table. Her
appointment, she told Beiruts Daily Star, was symbolic
of the way our country is advancing
that it could consider
not only asking a woman
from a non-English-speaking background,
but a woman whose work was in a field that is not always popular.