Meet the Team
Backroom Press Inc began life in 2006 and was incorporated as a not-for-profit association in 2009. The purpose of the association is to help educate the community through the publication of books with subject matter or themes drawn from the Kimberley region. The objects of Backroom Press are to foster understanding between different cultural groups and support community educational projects.
The Management Committee of Backroom Press Inc is elected each year at the AGM.
Gillian Kennedy – Chairperson
Gillian is an educator, mother and part-time veggie gardener. In those rare moments of peace, she loves to indulge in a good book and when she’s really inspired, she likes to write. This has mostly taken the form of journalling and blogging while travelling, wide-eyed, in exotic places. Gillian came to the Kimberley as a teacher, living on Walmajarri country in the south-east of the region, surrounded by 360-degree horizons. She now lives in Broome and can proudly recite three Backroom Press publications verbatim, thanks to the little person in her life. Gillian is on a steep learning curve in the world of publishing, but she can’t think of a better group of mentors to show her the ropes.
Christine Elsasser – Secretary
After immersing myself in mediaeval literature in Germany, I worked in a publishing house in Munich, helping to produce reference books for libraries and universities until life took me on a different path in Australia. Books always occupied a special place in my life, so I’m excited to be part of Backroom Press and helping to bring stories from the Kimberley to the World.
Suzanne Jess – Treasurer
Joyce Hudson – Treasury Support
Joyce Hudson grew up in Queensland in the days when career opportunities for women were few, so she trained as a nurse. Later she was greatly relieved to discover she had a talent for learning and analysing languages. This allowed her to move to a career in linguistics. She studied the Walmajarri language, from the Great Sandy Desert, and Kimberley Kriol. She has coordinated the publication of many books about Kimberley languages and supported language programs in schools. Joyce has lived in the Kimberley since 1967 and looks like staying there forever. In 2014 Joyce was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Governor General’s Australia Day Honours List for significant service to the community through the recording and preservation of Indigenous languages, and to education.
Pat Lowe is a writer and psychologist who grew up in England. She taught at secondary schools in France and East Africa and has spent more than half her life in Western Australia. She met Jimmy Pike when she was working as a psychologist at Broome Prison, and later joined him at his desert camp, where the pair stayed for three years, before moving to Broome. Pat has written a dozen books, many of them in collaboration with Jimmy.
Maria came to the Kimberley at the height of the Noonkanbah protests. She was looking for adventure and found it, along with friendship, extraordinary opportunities, humbling experiences, glorious colours and an enchanting landscape that still has the power to surprise. As a young woman, she studied psychology, then went travelling for a couple of years. On her return, she couldn’t settle into the discipline and set about trying her hand at anything that came her way: journalism, project coordination and events management, photography, environmental activism and politics. She produced postcards and worked on movies, and helped develop small publications for health and welfare organisations. She loves to read, especially when the stories come from lands and cultures other than her own.
Rani is a passionate English and drama teacher. She arrived in the Kimberley as a baby and grew up swimming in freshwater creeks, catching fish bigger than your baby brother, spying on wily crocodiles and gorging on mangoes. By the time her family left eight years later to go back ‘over East’ the love affair was entrenched — in more ways than one. Unbeknownst to her, she had already met her future husband, who had also landed in Broome as a baby, and together they settled back in town in 2009. Trace a line through Rani’s family tree and you’ll discover generations of poets, thespians, librarians and journalists. Surrounded by storytellers, Rani grew up under the influence of books, and can’t wait to share her passion with her son.
Deb spent the first three years of her life in Derby, and the opportunity to return to the region with her three boys and husband, after 18 months in Port Hedland, was too good to pass up.
Apart from being a busy mother, Deb runs a home business that focuses on wellness, abundance and mentorship, is developing skills in internet marketing, and works as a Clinical Facilitator part-time at the University of Notre Dame, mentoring student nurses. Deb would like to see more focus on prevention of ill-health than ‘cure’. She has a passion for professional and personal development.
Deb wrote and self-published a children’s book, to encourage her own and other young people to have a strong sense of self and self-belief. Reading to her children at bedtime brings them together at the end of a day and opens up a new world every time they turn a page.
Deb is learning how to grow her business through internet marketing, and has been tutored by highly successful mentors from Hawaii and Canada. She is eager to use her knowledge and strategies to help grow the profile of Backroom Press Inc., and the books we publish, to reach a wider community
Previous Management Committee Members:
Sudha Coutinho, Alex Smee, Rachael Christensen, Valerie Burgess, Ushan Boyd, Rebecca Youdale, Robyn Wells, Jackie Wright, Flip Prior, Jean Indermaur, Carmel Leahy, Deb Hannagan, Sharon Griffiths, Carolyn Pickett