Dr Anne Fairbairn AM, the iconic Australian poet, artist, journalist and a long time bridge builder between Australia and the Arab world passed away at the age of 90 last Monday 22 October. She championed the rights of Palestinians and indigenous Australians and was a great supporter of the Muslim community. She was the granddaughter of Australia’s fourth Prime Minister, George Reid.
Her private funeral was held on Tuesday 30 October. She leaves behind two sons, 5 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
She was married twice first to Peter Body and then to Geoffrey Forrester Fairbairn, a Professor in the Department of History at the Australian National University who passed away in 1980.
Anne developed a strong bond of respect and love with Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad and members of his family, meeting them regularly at their residence in Bonnyrigg and attending the annual Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair, MEFF at Fairfield Showground every year where she regularly recited her poetry.
She was an enthusiastic supporter of AMUST, regular columnist and published her poetry as well as articles on Palestinian and indigenous affairs most passionately almost in every issue.
Anne was awarded the Banjo Paterson Writing Award for Open Poetry in 1995 followed by the Order of Australia in 1998 for services to literature and international relations between Australia and the Middle East.
Her translation of Arabic poetry Feathers and the Horizon published in 1989 received international acclaim. She is also the author of Shadows of Our Dreaming; a celebration of early Australia published in 1983 with haiku-like poems set beside her evocative black and white drawings, and Djuringa Haiku.
Her own poetry has been translated and published in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. She has lectured extensively at universities in the Arab world and Asia on Australian poetry and has translated the work of Lebanese-Australian poet Wadih Sa’adeh and others in A Secret Sky published in 1997.
In September 2005 Anne Fairbairn received the award, ‘Living for Others – Promoting Peace through Media, Arts and Culture’ from the International and Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace presented in Sydney by Professor Marie Bashir AO, Governor of New South Wales.