Alicia S. Cook


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Allan’s labour of love

TWENTY-FOUR years ago, Jacinta Allan became the youngest woman to enter parliament in Victoria.

Now the Bendigo local has become the second woman to reach the highest level of office in Victorian parliament, having succeeded Daniel Andrews as Premier.

Reflecting on her early days in politics, Ms Allan said she had taken each day as it came and focused on enjoying her work supporting the local community.

“That’s the approach I’ve taken every day since,” she said. “Continue to work hard, work with the local community, support the local community, and also enjoy it at the same time.”

The Premier said the one thing she would have told her younger self entering parliament for the first time, was to have confidence that change could happen.

“I didn’t think 25 years ago I’d be sitting at a cabinet table that had two thirds of the people at that table women.

“If you keep at it and work hard then progressive change will come,” she said.

It is the potential to continue to make progress in her local community that Premier Allan said has sustained her throughout her career.

Her 1999 election was secured based on a commitment to achieving better outcomes for regional Victorians, a value she credits to her regional roots.

Both sides of her family go back several generations in Bendigo and Ms Allan said growing up in the area had influenced her both as a person and how she approaches her responsibilities as a member of parliament.  

“It comes very much from being centred in my community,” she said. “I love Bendigo, my husband and I are raising our kids here, and it’s that influence that I’ve taken to every role I’ve had in government, including this one.”

The significance of being born at Bendigo Base Hospital and now standing witness to the change she has contributed to take shape in the new Bendigo Hospital, is not lost on the Premier. 

“To think that we are now in a position where we’ve not only got a really strong health care system in our city and in our regions, but we can add to that with the provision of public IVF services,” she said. 

Since her appointment to Premier, Ms Allan has been vocal about centring her leadership style on listening to local communities.

“By listening to people or groups and organisations, you can hear from them what’s important and nothing beats that lived experience when you are then taking it away and considering how that sits in a broader policy setting,” she said.