Pat Storer has been in “plenty of prickly situations”, working as a police officer for 41 years.
But Leading Senior Constable Storer, who has been Violet Town’s only officer for the past 11 years, likes to “focus on the positive things”.
Leading Sen Const Storer, who is also a resident in Violet Town, was proud to receive a Australian Police Medal.
“We get a lot of service medals, which are the medals we normally wear, but they just have to do with years of service – almost everybody gets those,” he said.
“This particular medal is one where you’ve got to be nominated, it’s not usually people of my lowly rank who get them.”
Leading Sen Const’s journey to Australia Day honours has seen him involved with many communities, particularly across the Goulburn Valley.
After starting as a police officer in the Melbourne in the 1980s, he moved to Shepparton and lent his services for 12 years and Kyabram for nearly 20 years.
The past 11 years has been at Violet Town’s one-member station, which he said was a “fantastic job”.
“It gives yourself a real opportunity to get involved with the community through all the community groups,” he said.
“It’s the best seat in the best show in the world, it’s a great career.”
Leading Sen Const Storer said one of his career highlights was in 2018, when the Violet Town police station became the first station in Victoria to permanently fly the LGTBI rainbow flag.
“You’ll see that flag alongside the Australian and Aboriginal national flags,” he said.
“It was done with the support of the community and, although that would be a highlight, also generally being able to make a difference in the community would stand out.”
Violet Town, which has a population of about 700, is a 35-minute drive from Shepparton.
Leading Sen Const Storer has always received community support in his job in a “closely-knit” town.
“When you’re in a position like this, whether you like it or not, you’re thrust into being a leader in the community,” he said.
“I know what the community expects, whether that means going out to remote areas and talking with the CFA on extreme fire days, but just so they know they’ve got our support behind them and we care about them, that’s the main thing.”
Leading Sen Const Storer said the job had been kind to him, so he tended not to dwell on the bad parts of the job.
“You see things you probably don’t need to see, but my view is that someone’s got to do it,” he said.
“The biggest positive about working in a small community is we actually get to do the work properly – we’re not rushed.”
Leading Sen Const Storer said giving to the community gave him a “fantastic feeling”.
“When you’ve got a strong community, they draw strength out of you – they let you know what they expect,” he said.
Leading Sen Const Storer recently completed a four-year term as a Strathbogie Shire Councillor, which he said was an “interesting exercise”, but had too much on his plate balancing council and police work.
He said after a long day’s work, it was great to come home to his wife Kate, who manages Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.
“She’s probably prouder than I am to win the medal and she’s been great support; we’ve got three adult children and a couple of grandchildren, they’re pretty proud too.”
Although Leading Sen Const Storer likes to focus on the good, he doesn’t want people to mistake his kindness for weakness.
“There is a certain bar we need to live by,” he said.
“The secret to it all is trying to treat everyone equally. I’ll be judged by the way I treat the least fortunate in the town, that’s not a bad yardstick to live by.
“Some people need more care and help than others because they may not be as fortunate as us. I’ve still got to give them as much respect as the most fortunate person and make everyone live by the same rules.”
More stories on Australia Day honours: