Before Marie Bashir became the first female Governor of New South Wales I knew her simply as my best friend’s Mum. Alex Shehadie and I were bosom buddies at Sydney Girls High School and her mother always gave me a warm welcome whenever I went over to visit. She still greets me warmly whenever I meet her but now she is universally adored for her wonderful work as the figurehead for our state. Our indigenous brothers and sisters are especially fond of her because she champions their rights at every opportunity.
The other night she attended a special function at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre to raise money for the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation and we spoke about how much still needs to be done to lift the standards of living for many indigenous people in our state and indeed our country. Aunty Marie, as she’s affectionately called, spoke to me of the Dreaming stories of people she has worked with and about recent discoveries of a meeting place of three big tribes in the Blue Mountains. Apparently they met by sending signals out from Barrington Tops. “You can’t tell me these were ignorant people,” she said passionately.
She was heading off the following day to help raise the profile of another group of Aboriginal people in the south of the state and had to go home early to get some sleep but I was inspired by her tireless work for indigenous people. She is an amazing role model to all New South Welshwomen and it’s a special privilege to know her.