Jane Allen (1981)

I’m a freelance screenwriter in television drama, working on everything from Blue Heelers to Secret Life of Us, Janet King to In Our Blood, a musical drama on ABC TV this year. I also worked as a lawyer for a few years, in criminal defence, and mass torts – which provided many stories and characters that have found their way onto our screens.

I’m a Tigers’ supporter, a word nerd, and an Antarctic tragic, and forever grateful to the Australian Antarctic division for allowing me to live at Mawson Station for three months over the summer of 2018/19 as their official arts fellow.

I came to Queen’s having never lived in Melbourne before, so it was a safe haven for me as I explored a new world. Queen’s gave me friends who I still hold dear, and connections that I am rediscovering and reanimating even now. It gave me access to people doing courses other than mine, who I would otherwise never have met. It broadened my horizons, challenged my beliefs, and occasionally infuriated me. There was the good – friends. The bad – the othering of those outside the dominant paradigm and The Ugly – the Thrashing Awards.

There was Bentley Still, for ever in danger of being kidnapped by another College. and there was the Master, “Snips”, telling us in his welcome address that if we had a bottle of spirits in our room, we should take a long hard look at ourselves.

We were rostered to attend the public phones, and either find the person the call was for (by yelling out in the quad, or running to the outside and doing the same), or writing down a message. Needless to say, it was not entirely successful, especially if you had an outside room.

Being involved with the College play for three years was an absolute highlight, even if in the first year (in Measure for Measure) I was pregnant in a wedding dress and got to faint on the altar in the chapel.

I don’t know what Queen’s is like for women now. Back in my day, in the early eighties, it was a place where the men set the agenda and the culture. There were plenty of strong women, don’t get me wrong, but the place was very male dominated. It was all but compulsory for everyone to attend the men’s’ sports matches, but the same could not be said for the women’s sport. I am sure that is no longer the case but with women’s rights being eroded in the world at large, whatever improvements in equality need to be guarded carefully.

As for the next fifty years… I hope Queen’s is a place where all who are fortunate enough to live within its walls feel safe and seen and celebrated. Maybe amongst the Wyverns there might even be a Matildas player or two… 

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