Woman Farquharson, Marie Langley

Community Worker

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Marie Farquharson was born in Manly, NSW, in 1883, the second of eight children of school teacher Robert Hinder and his wife, Sarah. After completing her secondary education she trained as a teacher, working at Riley street kindergarten in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills prior to her marriage to accountant, John Farquharson in 1911. The couple lived initially in Lismore, where their two daughters were born, but in 1923 returned to Sydney where Marie became correspondent for a group of country newspapers.

Farquharson had organised a local branch of the Red Cross in Lismore during World War I, and after moving to Sydney became involved with the National Council of Women, introduced by her sister, international YWCA worker, Eleanor Hinder. She occupied several positions within the organisations, rising to the rank of life vice-president in 1946. During the 1930s depression she also served on the Unemployment Relief Council, setting up a sewing depot which provided employment and meals for women who were out of work (Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 1932) and supervising the hostel which the NCW established for mothers and babies (Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 1931). In World War II she was secretary and later president of the Women's Voluntary Services, established in 1939 to 'organise and prepare women for any emergency that would arise from a declaration of war' (Australian Women's Weekly, 14 January 1939).

Her NCW work, Farquharson claimed, had brought her into 'close personal contact with over eighty women's organisations' and through them 'thousands of women, each contributing in her own way to the betterment of humanity' (Australian Women's Weekly, 30 September 1933). On her retirement as state secretary, Farquharson was commended for her 'gift of being able to see the point of view which differed from her own'. In response she stated that 'her success had been due to the co-operation of her colleagues and the inspiration of her presidents' (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 1932).

Farquharson died in Sydney in 1954.

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