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.
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.
Previous Management Committee Members:
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, Deb Hannagan, Sharon Griffiths, Carolyn Pickett, Ben Collins