Leneen Forde

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Leneen Forde
Leneen Forde, Governor of Queensland, with Premier Wayne Goss and cabinet ministers of the 3rd Goss Ministry, 52nd Parliament, Governor's Residence Fernberg, Brisbane, 31 July 1995 (cropped).jpg
22nd Governor of Queensland
In office
29 July 1992 – 29 July 1997
MonarchElizabeth II
PremierWayne Goss
Rob Borbidge
Preceded bySir Walter Campbell
Succeeded byPeter Arnison
Personal details
Mary Marguerite Leneen Kavanagh

(1935-05-12) 12 May 1935 (age 86)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada[1]
Gerald Forde
(m. 1955; died 1966)

Angus McDonald
(m. 1983; died 1993)
RelationsFrank Forde (father-in-law)
Alma materUniversity of Queensland

Mary Marguerite Leneen Forde, AC (born 12 May 1935) is a retired solicitor and former Chancellor of Griffith University, who served as the 22nd Governor of Queensland from 1992 until 1997.[2] Forde chaired the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions during 1998 and 1999 that found systemic child abuse in government or non-government institutions between 1911 and 1999.

Early years and background[edit]

Forde was born Mary Marguerite Leneen Kavanagh in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She worked as a medical laboratory technician,[2] and studied part-time for a Bachelor of Arts before moving to Australia in 1954. In 1955, she married (Francis) Gerald Forde, the son of Frank Forde, a former Prime Minister of Australia and High Commissioner to Canada.[3] Together, the Fordes had five children.[4] She worked in the Haematology Department of Royal Brisbane Hospital for two years prior to full-time legal study following her husband's death in 1966. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland in 1970, and from 1971 was employed as a solicitor.[2] From 1974 to 1992, she was a partner of Cannan & Peterson, in charge of probate and estates.[5][6]

Governor of Queensland[edit]

In 1992, Forde was only the second woman to be appointed to the position of governor of an Australian state (after Dame Roma Mitchell who became Governor of South Australia in 1991) and the first to take on the role in Queensland.[4]

Forde had remarried a retired detective superintendent from New South Wales Police, Angus McDonald, in 1983. McDonald served as vice-regal consort and was the first male spouse of a governor in Australia. Forde retired as governor in 1997.

Forde Inquiry[edit]

In 1998, Forde was appointed to chair the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions.[2] Forde handed the report to the Queensland Government in May 1999. The Inquiry covered 159 institutions from 1911 to 1999 and found abuse had occurred and made 42 recommendations relating to contemporary child protection practices, youth justice and redress of past abuse. The Inquiry resulted in reconciliation initiatives including apologies, commemorative memorials and events, establishment and delivery of the Queensland Government Redress Scheme, establishment of the Forde Foundation Trust Fund, and establishment of community-based support services.[7][8]


On 26 January 1993, Forde was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to the law, to improving the status of women and to economic and business development.[9] Forde is a Dame of Grace in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. She was International President of Zonta from 1990 until 1992,[2] and 1991 Queenslander of the Year.[10]


  1. ^ "Forde, Leneen AC". Herald and Weekly Times. Who's Who in Australia. 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Biography: Leneen Forde". Women in Law in Queensland. Supreme Court of Queensland Library. 2003. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  3. ^ Nankervis, Anthony (2 September 2009). "Francis Michael Forde, PC" (PDF). Museum of Australian Democracy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 September 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Her Excellency" (transcript). Australian Story. Australia: ABC TV. 26 July 1997. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  5. ^ Currie, Susan (December 2006). "Writing Women into the Law in Queensland" (PDF). Queensland University of Technology eprints. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Leneen Forde AC". The Forde Foundation. Archived from the original on 25 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Forde Inquiry and Redress of past abuse". Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. Queensland Government. 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. ^ McDermott, Quentin (18 August 2003). "Interview with Leneen Forde". Four Corners. Australia: ABC TV. Archived from the original (transcript) on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  9. ^ "FORDE, Mary Marguerite Leneen". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1993. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  10. ^ Beattie, Peter (1 June 2007). "Queensland Greats Awards Honour Living Legends" (Press release). Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by