Beyond Words runs by the generosity of our volunteers and has no paid staff.

Our Biographers

Our growing number of biographers, currently around sixty, devote time and effort to capture and celebrate the stories of people in aged care and see it as a privilege to enter and record the lives and stories of our elders.

The quality and quantity of our biographies requires organisation, training, funds, support, liaison with aged care residences, and so on. We achieve this through the voluntary efforts and diverse talents of our biographers who, as the organisation rebuilds, (see History) have taken on the following roles:

Our Board

Richard Hill - Beyond WordsRichard Hill – Chair

A biographer with Beyond Words since 2016, Richard joined the Board at the end of 2020. Before retirement, Richard worked in the review, planning and improvement of community organisations both as a consultant and manager in Quality Improvement Community Services Accreditation (QICSA). He also worked in training, university teaching, and for many years with local governments designing and managing youth policy and services.

Brigid Ryan – Secretary and Public Officer

Brigid Ryan - Beyond Words

Brigid worked as a lawyer for the City of Melbourne until 2022 and was on the boards of two city of Melbourne companies. She has been involved in community volunteer work in many areas over the years including the Refugee Legal Service, migrant English tuition, Flemington Legal Service, legal advice work and board responsibilities as well as school and kindergarten boards. Brigid joined Beyond Words in 2018 and loves writing biographies.

She sees opportunities for expansion of this valuable work through Beyond Words for those in aged care who wish to tell their stories and for volunteers who are interested in making this happen.

Toby Hayes - Beyond WordsToby Hayes – Treasurer

Toby has qualifications in public policy, experience as a biographer and current work expertise in strategic planning. He is committed to supporting and celebrating the volunteers and growing the reach of the exemplary biography program. Toby credits the high standing reputation of Beyond Words to its organisational leadership and processes and seeks to build on these strengths through innovation, strategic partnerships and sound decision making.

Austin Paterson - Beyond WordsAustin Paterson

Austin joined Beyond Words in 2022. He has a keen interest in aged care, community health, community development and philanthropy. He has held various senior positions in these fields in Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.



Nigel McQuitty - Beyond WordsNigel McQuitty

Nigel joined Beyond Words as a biographer in 2019 and now works in the editorial team that ensures our biographies are high-quality publications.  Originally from New Zealand, he has worked for the last twenty-four years in publishing in Taiwan, Singapore, and now Melbourne.


Dianne Parslow - Beyond WordsDianne Parslow

Dianne retired in 2017 and joined Beyond Words in 2019 after writing her family history.  She joined the Board in 2021 and is also the formatting editor in the editorial team and for our monthly biographers’ newsletter.  Before retiring Dianne worked in Education in a wide variety of roles.



Our Patrons

Jenny Kearney, OAM is the creator of the original biography service under Eastern Palliative Care. For 20 years she was previously Executive Director of Open Doors, a community-based counselling and education program.

Dr Brenda Niall, AO is the award-winning author of nine biographies including the accounts of the Boyd family and True North, her portrait of the Durack sisters. She supports Beyond Words because biographies tell us that individuals matter and celebrate their lives.


Operations Team

Richard Hill is Operational Coordinator. He coordinates and develops the organisation, supports the volunteers listed here as required, reviews performance and advises the Board in planning our future development.

Dan Kavanagh is Program Coordinator. He has the large and important task of dealing with aged care organisations and matches our biographers with people in aged care. He leads the development of new programs and supports our biographers. Several people are learning to share the liaison with aged care as regional volunteers.

Nigel McQuitty leads a team of six editors who ensure we publish quality biographies.

Vera keeps our accounts.

Caroline works closely with Richard and Dan to ensure effective use of I.T. and our online presence through this website and social media. Technical website support is provided by Rachel of JDC Digital Solutions.

Training for new biographers is a rigorous three-and-a-half-day program. Richard, Dan, Julie, Nigel and Margie form the training team to share the load and improve the program.

 Anne works with Chris, Dianne and Richard to produce a monthly Biographers’ Newsletter and Julie organises the Forum where biographers share and learn from each other’s experience. We aim to constantly improve our skills and support each other.

The whole Board, with expert help from Lyn, work as a fundraising subcommittee. We have a plan to rebuild our finances, establish a sustainable funding base for our current program, and enable future expansion.