Employees receive awards

Loyal sheriff's officers celebrate career milestones

TEAM: Senior sheriff's officers Kathryn Feeney, George Griffiths and Michelle Stewart. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

TEAM: Senior sheriff's officers Kathryn Feeney, George Griffiths and Michelle Stewart. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

We are very fortunate to have officers of this calibre and experience in Bendigo. - Roger Williams

THREE Bendigo sheriff's officers have celebrated career milestones.

George Griffiths, Michelle Stewart and Kathryn Feeney have received service awards for 30, 25 and 10 years respectively.

Regional manager Roger Williams congratulated the senior officers on their achievements.

"We are very fortunate to have officers of this calibre and experience in Bendigo," he said.

The officers work for Australia's seven courts to finalise orders.

They seize property, issue warrants and arrest and bail people to appear in court. 

They also assist police with roadblocks and use an automatic number plate recognition system to find people dodging the law.

And they have authority to suspend driver's licences and vehicle registrations.

Mr Griffiths said the bulk of the officers' work came from infringements, including outstanding traffic and parking fines. 

"It's not uncommon for people to have $100,000 worth of fines," Mr Griffiths said.

"We can put in an order to sell houses if we need to."

Ms Feeney said people failed to pay fines for a variety of reasons.

"Some don’t pay on principle and others can’t afford it or they think they can get away with it," she said.

"I just think a lot of people bury their head in the sand.

"Some fines hang around indefinitely."

The officers have seized land, homes and even livestock during their careers.

They say rules have changed over time, restricting what they can take.

The workplace has changed in other ways, too.

When Mr Griffiths started he used his own car and didn't have a uniform or a phone.

There are also a lot more women working as officers now.

"When I started it was more male dominated," Mrs Stewart said.

"Like the police force, it has gradually evened out."

Mrs Stewart said she was one of 1800 applicants for 48 positions when she got her role in Melbourne 25 years ago. She was the only country applicant.

The officers said their careers had been challenging but they enjoyed the job's variety and camaraderie with other officers.

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