Dr Kate Blaszak
Sentient Veterinary Member; Senior Veterinary and Welfare Adviser, World Animal Protection (Asia Pacific); Board member, Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities.
Intermittently ‘coming home to roost’, Kate is a Melbourne Veterinary graduate with a passion to improve animal welfare and an inbuilt compass to travel. This begun with a focus on animal health and welfare in the tropics, specifically working equines in India supported by The Brooke as part of a Masters degree. The surveys lead to development of evidence based educational materials and disease risk and prevention strategies for the Brooke and working equines; the beasts of burden that sorely deserve the good work of the Brooke.
Back in Australia, she managed Victorian policy, regulation and education for the ethical use of animals in research and teaching at the Bureau of Animal Welfare. Developments included the first mandatory Victorian State code with minimum standards, more rigorous auditing and licensing requirements, training for Animal Ethics Committees and the inclusion of the use of animals in schools and wildlife surveys with ethical justification and welfare scrutiny. The insight into Government machinations also generated the acute realization of the deep compromise that welfare regulators are faced with when located within Primary Industry Departments. Despite the co-regulatory approach firmly established in Australia, she believes there is a need to look further afield at better and more independent models.
Returning to Asia, where she lived and worked for over a decade, she managed regional programmes for companion animals and working equines and implemented the ‘Concepts in Animal Welfare’ programme which trains lecturers and integrates animal welfare into veterinary curricula. This work relied heavily on the dedicated efforts of individuals and local NGOs, which are the unsung heroes of the animal protection world.
Kate has contributed to the promotion of animal related policy areas of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, OIE Regional Animal Welfare Strategy and FAO expert meeting for dog population management. With almost 10 years of work in Asia Pacific, from humane rabies and dog population management, human behavior change with farmers, lobbying for animal welfare legislation and standards, training for tertiary education and humane slaughter, she now works in the Humane and Sustainable Agriculture programme. With a key focus on social campaigning and corporate engagement including strategic and technical advice, Kate aims to open up humane consumer markets to drive the protection of farm animals. This work continues to take her mostly to Thailand and China, when not ‘roosting’ in Melbourne.
One of Kate’s favourite countries is Laos, where she has also worked in the ‘one health’ field on projects supported by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research and International Livestock Research Institute. Kate is a voluntary board member for Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities and a subscription member of VALE.
She has recently completed a membership in animal welfare and a course in Leadership, with Women in Leadership Australia. She feels that vets must do more to lead ethical and welfare discourse and developments in Australia. This has been a motivation to join Sentient, which provides another option for vets and associated members to insert into a range of animal issues and lead with an opinion that is more progressive and conscionable. I am very excited to join this community of like-minded professionals for proactive change for animals in Australia.