Born 1956, age 66
“If you find something you’re passionate about – engross yourself with it!”
When first speaking with Karin, her impressive nursing career stands out. Advocating tirelessly for better conditions for nurses in the Illawarra, Karin has been recognised for her outstanding work and passion for her industry. However, there is so much more to Karin, with countless travel adventures, a loving family, and rich cultural history.
Karin was born in Hamburg, Germany, and came to Australia by ship when she was two years old. Her dad worked at the Steelworks, so they lived in Oak Flats where there was a big German and Dutch community.
Karin kicked off her nursing career at Port Kembla Hospital, before working as a nurse at Warrigal Mt Warrigal – the only Warrigal location at the time. Karin’s extensive advocacy efforts aside, her colourful career took her down many different avenues, and saw her work in aged care, midwifery, and the emergency department, in hospitals across the Illawarra. She also moved between Port Kembla, Queanbeyan, and Bendigo.
Through her years as a nurse, Karin has been very actively involved with unions, “passion in the right direction”, as she describes it. Karin did many media interviews, and was very passionate about advocating for better working conditions for nurses.
Karin met her husband, Pete, in 1972, and they were married in 1975. Pete was from Wagga Wagga, but was doing a traineeship with Steelworks when he met Karin. Together, they had four children – one lives locally, two live in Victoria, and one lives in France. They also have 13 grandchildren!
Karin says that her greatest achievement would have to be her children, and becoming a life member of the NSW Nurses & Midwives’ Association. Her advice would be that if you have a career that appeals to you, you must engross yourself with it and be passionate about it. She also believes in the importance of being at peace in your mind – don’t dwell on the past, what’s behind you is behind you.
Karin’s happiest memory is going back to Germany in 2001, her first time in the country since she left when she was two. When she got off the plane, she was met by her cousin and immediately felt at home, saying, “I was German. These are my roots.” Karin recalls how everything felt familiar – sights, smells, the feel, and even the mannerisms of her family members.
Karin has been back to Germany multiple times since this trip, often visiting one of her friends who she met while working in a hospital in Australia. She met a woman who had an unwell husband in the hospital where Karin was working, and Karin looked after him until he passed away. When Karin visited the village he was from, the community took her in as their own because of the way she helped him.
Karin and Pete have lived at Warrigal Shell Cove for two years now, with COVID being a big factor that pushed them to make the move. They both wanted to stay local, highlighting that they wouldn’t have the support system they have here if they moved away. While COVID has made socialising with other people in the village difficult, Karin says their neighbours are lovely, and they have enjoyed the social events they’ve attended, notably the Christmas in July bus trip.
Karin and her husband chose to move to Warrigal so that they would be able to spend their time travelling, while still having peace of mind about their home. Living in the village gives them a sense of security, so it’s one less thing to worry about when they go away, which is often!
Karin and Pete both have a deep love of travel, and in 2019 they did a half-world cruise, followed by six weeks in Europe. They also spent eight months in Western Australia during the height of COVID in 2021. They won’t be slowing down their travel adventures anytime soon! They already have plenty of future trips booked, with a 107-day world cruise booked for 2023, and a trip to Antarctica in 2024.