Katie Allen says she’s lived “in almost every corner of the electorate” since arriving in Prahran from regional NSW as a child.
“When I was at Monash University, I lived in East St Kilda,” she says of her almost 40 years in the electorate. “I went to a local school while living in South Yarra and now I live in Toorak.”
Dr Allen is seeking to regain Prahran for the Liberal Party, which lost it to the Greens in 2014. She is campaigning for community safety, taking a stand against over-development and fighting for the infrastructure that she believes the electorate needs.
Allen has spent all but three of the past 28 years as a medical practitioner, working as a paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital. “I felt it was best to concentrate on only doing public work in the healthcare system because it needs my skills more than the private system, so I only do public work in healthcare at the clinical level.”
She also works as a medical researcher for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
“I thought, ‘how could I make the healthcare system better so we could prevent people from getting sick?’” She dedicated her career as a medical researcher to prevention. “I think our healthcare system should really pivot now to looking at prevention rather than cure because at the moment it’s all about hospital … It’s more cost effective and better for the community.”
She’s seen the electorate change over the years. “When I first came down from Albury as a young child, the Jam Factory was literally a jam factory,” she says.
“Having that long view and understanding the heritage of the seat can be helpful. You don’t have to be local for a long time to understand a seat and the current issues, but I do think that it helps having lived here for so long.”
Allen is currently serving as the chairman of Melbourne Girls Grammar School Council, which includes setting strategic direction for the school and employing the principal to operate the school. “In some ways my experience in one educational sector is also relevant to other areas of the educational sector as well. People might say that my interest is in private education. My interest isn’t in private education it’s in education for all kids.”
The Andrews Government announced earlier this year that South Yarra station would get a $12 million upgrade to ease congestion at the station and incorporate closer tram stops. While Allen supports this, she says more could be done. “I do not think that it is fair to call it an upgrade because there is not going to be more frequent services there. They are renovating the front of the building to make it more open which will help accessibility and improve the tram stop out the front which I think is a very good suggestion, but I would like to see a northern entrance and I’d also like to see improvement of pedestrian safety down River Street.”