A BIT OF BIO
Born 1942 in Sydney, I lived in Mosman, Canberra and Armidale, NSW during my growing up. I am called Biff because when my younger brother was learning to speak my parents encouraged him NOT to shorten the elegant ‘Elizabeth’ – Biff is what they got.
I have three children and four grand-children and a close extended family. My friends are mostly based on deep ties from my feminist and activist life. Blood family and intersecting circles of chosen families, all activist in their own way. Activists are good at raging and at laughing – a great combo.
My working career was high school teaching (English and History), the School Without Walls (SWOW) in Canberra, the Institute for Aboriginal Development in Alice Springs, Equal Opportunity Officer at the University of South Australia and then director of SPECTRA Consultants where I provided training in harassment prevention, equity and diversity and communication skills for difficult conversations in the government and community sectors.
I live in Ngambri and Ngunnawhal country in Canberra on land that was stolen. I honour the Makarrata and support its implementation.
MY WRITING LIFE
Writing was always part of my life, but in my teens and twenties and thirties, it was sort of on the side, an occasional article or poem. In my mid-thirties, while working at Beryl Women's Refuge, I was confronted with family-based child sexual abuse and ended up writing Father-Daughter Rape, The Women’s Press, 2014.
In my forties I lived in Adelaide where there was at that time a vibrant poetry scene, especially among the women’s movement. In 1992, three's company, a collection of poems by Donna McSkimming, Deborah McCulloch and me, won the Wakefield Press/Friendly St Publishing Award in Adelaide. The first edition sold out in a fortnight - quite a feat for poetry. Buoyed by this, we negotiated a reprint but It turned out the rush was over, so I have plenty of copies available through the contact page.
In my fifties, I started to write scenes I recalled from my family of origin. They eventually coalesced in a memoir, In My Mother’s Hands, Allen & Unwin, 2014.
My latest book The Third Chopstick: Tracks through the Vietnam War was published in 2022 and is available through IndieMosh.
MY ACTIVIST LIFE
Activism for me means believing that ordinary people have a right
to be heard. Often this right has to be fought for, has to use clever
or confronting strategies. I’ve noticed that a great deal of progressive change results from people telling their stories of lived experience.
It’s where writing (story-telling) and activism merge.
Activism also means exposing the mega-perfidy of untrammelled capitalism and the horrors of the US military-industrial complex.
I have been involved in the Ban the Bomb movement, Vietnam, Women's Liberation, Radical Education, Close Pine Gap, Close Nurrungar, support for Indigenous causes, Extinction Rebellion and the Greens.
I simply want humankind to be able to live a sustainable life in peace.