Meet the Team
Backroom Press Management Committee, 2018
L to R: Trish Pepper, Ben Collins, Pat Lowe, Deb Courtney, Gillian Kennedy (chairperson), Maria Mann, Christine Elsasser, Joyce Hudson
Gillian Kennedy – Chairperson
Gillian first moved to the Kimberley from Sydney in 2007, working as a teacher in a remote community. It was there that she began to appreciate the depth and breadth of remarkable Kimberley stories. At Backroom Press she is able to play a part in producing books that take some of these stories out into the wider world. Since 2014 Gillian has also been on the organising committee of Corrugated Lines: A festival of words, held every August, and a hidden gem on the annual Broome calendar. She works as a lecturer and researcher at the Nulungu Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame and lives in a tropical bungalow with her family of three in Broome.
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.
Maria Mann – Treasurer
Maria came to the Kimberley in the 1970s, at the height of the Noonkanbah protests. She was looking for adventure and found it, along with numerous friendships, wonderful opportunities, humbling experiences, glorious colours and an enchanting landscape. Maria has a love of reading and the visual arts. She has tried her hand at journalism, photography, environmental and political advocacy, lecturing and psychology. She has produced a series of postcards, written numerous articles for magazines and specialist publications, and worked as production assistant to documentary filmmakers.
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 here forever. Since her retirement Joyce has applied her experience to her role of volunteer with Backroom Press. Other interests include working in the Uniting Church Op Shop.
Pat Lowe 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. Pat trained as a psychologist and worked for many years in WA prisons. She has written a dozen books, fiction and non-fiction, several of them in collaboration with Aboriginal artists and storytellers. Pat is a keen environmentalist and lives in Broome.
After 23 years in the classroom, including five in a reading clinic and two teaching English as a second language, I changed direction. For two years I learnt about publishing, when I worked on a business and mining magazine, then spent five years running a very busy guesthouse in Busselton. Once again, it was time for change. I headed north to Broome to settle for good. Over two seasons I worked on the children’s television series, ‘Trapped and Castaway’, one as tutor, and one catering for cast and crew. The following five years I spent traversing the Kimberley as Healthy Schools Officer in the Department of Health, talking to teachers and kids about healthy food and brushing teeth. Throughout my life I’ve been interested in the written and spoken word, buoyed by a rare compliment in my 1962 school report: ‘Composition is Patricia’s best subject.’ Add that to the inscription in the book I received as a prize at my final school speech-night in 1968: ‘For general helpfulness’. What a winning combo for a place on the committee of Backroom Press. An avid collector of art, I also love cooking and listening to podcasts. Most importantly, I am a keen advocate of the apostrophe rule.
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.
Ben moved to northern Australia to study wildlife in north Queensland. After gaining an honours degree in genetics he moved to Broome with his family, where he has worked for the ABC in the Kimberley since 2004, producing social media, online content, radio, and television. Ben is passionate about sailing wooden boats, fishing, gardening, and regional Australia.
Previous Management Committee Members:
Rani Middleton, Suzanne Jess, 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