Allan spent 30 years in the Australian Public Service, as a member of the Australian diplomatic service, the Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of Defence and the Attorney General’s Department. He specialised in international relations, defence strategy, counter-terrorism and law enforcement policy.

He has tertiary qualifications in philosophy and Asian studies, and speaks Indonesian and French. He is a sought-after public speaker and media commentator. He has taught advanced strategy and policy at several Australian universities and defence colleges. From 2009 to 2013, he was Chief of Staff to Greg Combet in a number of portfolios. Allan’s family has lived experience of PTSD over three generations, dating from WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War.