14 October 2022

Region Riverina's Oliver Jacques enjoys telling the stories of everyday people

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Oliver with his wife Jenna Woodland

Oliver eloped with his now-wife Jenna Woodland and got married in Noosa. Photo: Supplied.

Oliver Jacques has always enjoyed writing, but years of working for government departments took a lot of the fun out of it.

After working in multiple bureaucratic departments, the Canberra man realised it was hard to make lasting change so he decided to ditch the public service for journalism.

When he went back to university at 40, Oliver found he was twice the age of other students but it gave him an opening into a career he now loves.

“I felt like a grandpa at university,” he said. “At O week, a stall holder came up to me and asked what course my child was studying.”

Coming from the combative environment of politics, the Region journalist enjoys telling the stories of people and focusing on the positive side of life.

“Griffith has the most incredible history, it seems everyone here has a fascinating story to tell,” he said.

READ ALSO Region Riverina’s Chris Roe and the long journey to journalism

Oliver said his career highlights so far include having a story about adoption published in The Guardian and having his work appear in the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC, The Herald Sun, SBS, and The Daily Telegraph.

When he isn’t writing for Region, Oliver spends the remainder of his time doing a novel writing course.

“I’m writing a novel about politics. It’s about a corrupt minister who gives out dodgy grants and tries to have sex with staffers and things like that.

“Totally fiction, of course,” he added.

Oliver Jacques

Oliver still hopes to become a professional tennis player one day. Photo: Supplied.

Oliver was born and bred in Canberra, while his parents were from the city of Goa in India. Having lived in Canberra, Sydney, Istanbul and Quito, the former English teacher says nothing compares to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Oliver says his pronouns are ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’. He still plays tennis six times a week and hangs on to a dream of turning professional.

He says he is an ardent feminist who believes it’s healthy for a man to stay home and be financially supported by a fulltime working wife.

Earlier this year, Oliver eloped with his girlfriend of four years, and now wife, Jenna Woodland.

“I really didn’t want the whole Indian wedding and if my parents got control of things I would have a huge Goan wedding with a thousand guests.

“I’d read in Cosmo that a man is supposed to spend one sixth of his annual salary on an engagement ring. So I thought the best time to get married would be while I was unemployed. We eloped while we were on holiday in Noosa.”

READ ALSO Region Riverina’s Shri Gayathirie Rajen on why she loves her job

“Twenty years ago my parents would have been angry about it but because I was already 46, they were like, ‘thank god, he’s married’. I’m also thankful Jenna said yes, because otherwise I was pretty close to being cast in a Bollywood version of the movie 40-year-old virgin.”

Oliver completed his Master of Public Policy at the Australian National University and worked as an assistant director for the Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations and as a Senior Public Officer for the Department of Family and Community Services.

He then decided to travel overseas where he taught English in Istanbul and Spanish in South America. Oliver came back to Australia for a career change and worked in Sydney as a Report Writer for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Oliver moved to Griffith in 2017 and pursued a career in journalism. He worked for The Area News and later became a campaign manager and the chief of staff for MP Helen Dalton.

He retired from politics for good earlier this year and has no political affiliations.

Oliver received the 2016 Ossie Award for best written story by a postgraduate journalism student in Australasia and the 2016 Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma – Asia Pacific Prize – a highly commended award for his writing on out-of-home care.

If you have a story or news tip for Oliver, email [email protected].

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