Meet the Team
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.
Pat Lowe – Deputy Chairperson
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.
Christine Elsasser – Treasurer
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.
Deb Hannagan – Secretary
Debra Hannagan was born and raised on Wadjuk Noongar Boodja and has lived on Djugun / Yawuru country for over 16 years now. A qualified early years teacher and Applied Linguist with 19 years’ experience in education, she is an education consultant in language and literacy. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, music, reading, and writing. She sometimes likes to perform her writing, and started an event called Word of Mouth in 2012 through Corrugated Lines: A Festival of Words to provide a creative outlet for herself and fellow aficionados of the spoken word.
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.
My family arrived from England in the mid-60s, settling in Adelaide. Quite late in my teens, the reading-bug bit me — not for escaping so much as finding meaning or structure in non-fiction, which suited my mild dyslexia. I now dive much more into fiction. I started my career and tertiary education towards the end of my children’s school years. I worked in banks, rising from teller to training consultant and trainee manager. In Sydney I started my own business as a training consultant, but later, in Queensland, the GFC drained my resources. Needing a ‘real job’ I moved to Broome and found my ‘real life’ in my ‘real, forever home’. I have joined some of Broome’s creative community groups: Wasamba Drumming, tap dancing and singing circle — and Backroom Press.
I have always loved a good story and, as a child, dreamed of writing my own stories – I am still dreaming! I struggle to put a good book down.
My first experience of living in the Kimberley was in Camballin, where I worked in the office and as a Librarian at Looma school. I have lived in Broome since 2002. I worked casually in the office and as a librarian at the local primary schools and then fulltime as a financial counsellor at Broome CIRCLE, while raising three girls and completing a Bachelor of Commerce through Curtin University. I have since worked as an accountant for various local organizations. I am currently employed part-time as finance manager for Magabala Books.
Previous Management Committee Members:
Sarah Tobias, Trish Pepper, Diana Oliver, Deb Courtney, Vicki Carroll, Maria Mann, Rani Middleton, Suzanne Jess, Sudha Coutinho, Alex Smee, Rachael Christensen, Valerie Burgess, Ushan Boyd, Rebecca Youdale, Robyn Wells, Jacqui Wright, Flip Prior, Jean Indermaur, Carmel Leahy, Sharon Griffiths, Carolyn Pickett, Ben Collins