Meet the Board


Lyn Farrell (Chair) – Bunbury

Lyn lived on a farm for a number of years, where she raised her children and enjoyed being part of the local rural community. While living on the farm she studied by distance education to obtain her Bachelor Degree.

Her formal qualifications now include a Masters in Professional Education and Training from Deakin University, a Graduate Diploma (Higher Education) from Murdoch University, a Diploma in Human Services from Central West College and an Australian Institute of Company Directors Diploma. Lyn is currently undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Education; her research is focused on participation by Aboriginal Australians in Higher Education.

Lyn has a passion for the benefits of higher education and has focused on providing learning pathways for people from diverse backgrounds. As a TAFE lecturer in Albany, Lyn was involved with the New Opportunities for Women (NOW) course from its inception. She spent ten years as a facilitator of NOW and had the privilege of watching women take up employment, education and community work opportunities.

Lyn has spent most of her adult life living and working in regional WA. She has been involved in community and industry committees, and forums focused on improving the economic and social capacity of the community.

In recent years Lyn was the Managing Director of the Pilbara Institute, and she is now the Dean of the Faculty Regional Professional Studies at Edith Cowan University’s South West Campus in Bunbury.

Lyn was appointed to the RRR Network Reference Group in February 2015; transitioned to the newly incorporated entity and was elected Chair of the new RRR Network Board in 2016.

Debbie Dowden (Treasurer) – Mt Magnet

Debbie is a keen horsewoman who has always had a strong interest in agriculture and community. For the last twenty something years she has raised a family on a half million acre cattle station in the struggling Southern Rangelands region with her husband who is also very active in the community.

Debbie’s four children were all educated through the School of the Air system and her youngest child is the last one left at home; the older ones are either at Boarding School or University.

Debbie is herself, a teacher. She has been involved with local education for twenty years and currently works part time as an In-School Coach for Explicit Direct Instruction. She also helps to run the family business and breeds and trains Morgan horses.

Debbie’s diverse interests and experience range from education, aviation to country racing. Once a keen aviator, she worked at the Royal Aero Club of WA where she met her husband. Prior to that she was a private racehorse trainer to a Turf Club committeeman whilst working her way through university where she studied English, Anthropology and finally, Education. She is still involved with local racing and active in a number of other community groups.

Debbie was appointed to the RRR Network Reference Group in February 2016; transitioned to the newly incorporated entity and was elected Treasurer of the new RRR Network Board in 2016.

Fiona Palmer (Secretary) – Pingaring

Fiona was born and raised in the tiny rural town of Pingaring. She grew up on her uncle’s farm and her parents operate a local business contracting for farmers.

Fiona left school early to attend Alexander College in Perth before returning home. Fiona’s passion for the country lifestyle is reflected in her writing of rural romance. She has attended romance writers’ conferences, received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first book The Family Farm, and had two books published in German.

Fiona has extensive farming experience, has managed the local town shop, worked as the Shire CEO’s secretary, has been a teacher’s aide and a speedway driver.

She is married with two children and spends her time writing books, working on the farm and being involved in local community and sporting groups. Fiona hopes to support rural communities and help them to not just grow, but thrive.

Fiona was appointed to the RRR Network Reference Group in February 2015; transitioned to the newly incorporated entity and was elected Secretary of the new RRR Network Board in 2016.

Maria Bolten Magnay – Kununurra

Maria is a born and bred Kimberley girl from the remote town of Kununurra.

Raised on an Ord Valley farm, her childhood was typical of an agricultural upbringing in the north. Life evolved from watermelons, mangoes and waterfalls to boarding school, city life and university.

Maria returned home after her studies and now works as a TAFE business lecturer, training mostly young and Indigenous students from schools, cattle stations, remote communities and mine sites.

She is also a private company director, working in the tourism industry that includes a family owned caravan park and retail diamond business as a Diamond Grader.

Now raising her own family in the East Kimberley, Maria is passionate about living in a thriving community with a diverse economy to provide opportunities for young people to work, live and learn.

Aside from her involvement in the community through her work, Maria is the Treasurer for the Small Business Centre East Kimberley Board and volunteers with the Ord Valley CWA.

Maria was appointed to the RRR Network Reference Group in February 2015 and was appointed to the Board of the  newly incorporated entity in 2016.

Sue Middleton

More information to follow


Anna Oades

More information to follow


Past Reference Group Members