As a Regulatory Global Lead, Kate Lawrence helps uphold CSL’s core value of integrity by ensuring quality for CSL Seqirus, a global vaccine provider. She likens her department’s role to a giant shield.
Outside of work, Lawrence was recently recognized for providing another kind of protection – volunteering as a firefighter during dangerous bushfires in Australia, where she lives.
Lawrence answered the call for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service during the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019 and 2020. As a member of the Penrose brigade, she helped to put out fires that scorched more than 24 million hectares of land. For her efforts, the Australian Governor-General awarded her with the National Emergency Medal, which recognizes significant or sustained service during national emergencies.
“As well as extinguishing fires, I was responsible for communicating and reassuring landowners, cutting and removing fencing and organizing heavy machinery such as bulldozers and graders to create fire control lines,” she said.
Lawrence was on guard around the clock for four weeks, even taking on the night patrol, an overnight shift until 4 a.m.
“This shift usually involved trekking into the bush on foot with a backpack of water and a MacLeod tool to extinguish fires, so they didn’t spread the next day,” she said.
She’s new to firefighting and says her rural upbringing influenced her decision to volunteer.
“I grew up with a ‘can do’ attitude and the ability to learn quickly from living in a rural community -- always outside playing, helping my parents look after farm animals or undertaking physical jobs, like chopping wood,” Lawrence said. “So, when the volunteer rural fire brigade held a community information session at my family’s property on how to prepare for bushfires, I thought ‘wow… I would really like to try that!’”
Lawrence hopes her award inspires others to pitch in.
“It provides an opportunity to reflect on the impact volunteer organizations have on communities which renews my passion for the organizations I am involved with,” Lawrence said. “I am also grateful that the award provides an opportunity to share stories of volunteering which I hope encourages more people to volunteer.”