On This Day … 01 December

People (Births)

  • 1930 – Marie Bashir, Australian psychiatrist, academic, and politician, 37th Governor of New South Wales.
  • 1937 – Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Latvian psychologist and politician, 6th President of Latvia.

Marie Bashir

Dame Marie Roslyn Bashir, AD, CVO (born 01 December 1930) is the former and second longest-serving Governor of New South Wales. Born in Narrandera, New South Wales, Bashir graduated from the University of Sydney in 1956 and held various medical positions, with a particular emphasis in psychiatry.

In 1993 Bashir was appointed the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for the Central Sydney Area Health Service, a position she held until appointed governor on 01 March 2001. She has also served as the Chancellor of the University of Sydney (2007-2012).

Bashir retired on 01 October 2014, and was succeeded as governor by General David Hurley.

She completed the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in 1956 at the University of Sydney Medical School, residing at The Women’s College from 1950 to 1955.

Medical Career

Upon her graduation in medicine, Bashir took up a posting as a junior resident medical officer at St Vincent’s Hospital and then to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. After first living in Elizabeth Bay, Bashir and Shehadie moved their family to Pendle Hill in Western Sydney, where Bashir worked as a General Practitioner. However, wanting to assist people suffering from mental illnesses, Bashir eventually decided to take up postgraduate studies in Psychiatry. To make this easier, Bashir and her family moved back into central Sydney to Mosman on the North Shore.

In 1971 Bashir was named as “Australian Mother of the Year”. When Shehadie was made Lord Mayor of Sydney, Bashir became the Lady Mayoress of Sydney from 1973 to 1975. When Shehadie was knighted in 1976, Bashir acquired the title Lady Shehadie, a title she did not use. After completion of postgraduate studies in psychiatry, she was made a Member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 1971, becoming a Fellow in 1980. From 1972, Bashir was a teacher, lecturer and mentor to medical students at The University of Sydney.

In 1972, Bashir was appointed Director of the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Service, which provides consultative services for young people with emotional and psychiatric issues. In 1987 she was appointed director of the Community Health Services in the Central Sydney Area Health Service, which put emphasis on early childhood services, migrant and Indigenous health as well as the elderly. On 13 June 1988 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “In recognition of service to medicine, particularly in the field of adolescent mental health”.

From 1990 to 1992, she served on the New South Wales Women’s Advisory Council. In 1993, she was appointed as Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney, and in 1994 as 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. She served until 2001. In her university role, Bashir is instrumental in developing collaborative teaching programs between colleagues in Vietnam and Thailand with Australian psychiatrists, chairing the University of New South Wales Third World Health Group (1995-2000) and supporting various financial and social support programmes for International students.

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. From 1996, Bashir also took up the consultative role of senior psychiatrist to the Aboriginal Medical Service. As well as championing the health of indigenous Australians, Bashir also continued her focus on youth and juvenile issues, particularly through her terms chairing the NSW Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (1991-1999) and as consultative psychiatrist to Juvenile Justice Facilities (1993-2000). On 01 January 2001, Bashir was awarded the Centenary Medal.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (born 01 December 1937) is a Latvian politician who served as the sixth President of Latvia from 1999 to 2007. She is the first woman to hold the post. She was elected President of Latvia in 1999 and re-elected for the second term in 2003.

Dr. Vaira Freiberga is a professor and interdisciplinary scholar, having published eleven books and numerous articles, essays and book chapters in addition to her extensive speaking engagements. As President of the Republic of Latvia 1999-2007, she was instrumental in achieving membership in the European Union and NATO for her country. She is active in international politics, was named Special Envoy to the Secretary General on United Nations reform and was official candidate for UN Secretary General in 2006.

She remains active in the international arena and continues to speak in defence of liberty, equality and social justice, and for the need of Europe to acknowledge the whole of its history. She is a well-known pro-European, as such, in December 2007 she was named vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long-term future of the European Union. She is also known for her work in psycholinguistics, semiotics and analysis of the oral literature of her native country.

After her presidency Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga served as the President of Club of Madrid, the world’s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, from 2014 to 2020. She is also a member of the International Programme Board of the Prague European Summit.

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