Meet the Team
Backroom Press Management Committee, 2019/20
L to R: Deb Courtney, Christine Elsasser, Sarah Tobias, Trish Pepper, Vicki Carroll, Joyce Hudson, Gillian Kennedy (chairperson). Inset: Pat Lowe
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.
Joyce Hudson – Deputy Chairperson
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.
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.
Sarah Tobias – Secretary
First trained in Social Work, Sarah has gained additional qualifications, including a Masters in Business Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Aboriginal Studies, which she proudly completed at the University of Notre Dame in Broome. After working in the public sector for most of her career, Sarah is now providing consultancy services to government and community organisations. Sarah is inspired by the rich and enduring culture and spirituality of the Kimberley region and is thrilled to be a part of the Backroom Press Team, taking the Kimberley to the world!
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.
I grew up on the edge of Bass Strait in Tasmania and spent wild windy winters reading and writing stories. For most of my career I have worked in Pathology labs doing academic research into Alzheimer’s disease, the cold-sore virus and cystic fibrosis. I wrote for medical journals, but to a dry and non-literary prescription. In 2008, after a few holidays here, I fell in love with Broome and the Kimberley, while also feeling the pull of family, as my daughter lives here. Now, as Blondie to three grandsons, and making up stories with them, and after a fantastic workshop with Writing By The Bay, I am ready to write again. Watch this space!
Previous Management Committee Members:
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, Deb Hannagan, Sharon Griffiths, Carolyn Pickett, Ben Collins