Orbost is in safe hands with the promotion of two female police officers to the rank of sergeant.
Long time local residents, Jo Geddes and Andrea Craigie, were recently upgraded from leading senior constables to sergeants as part of an overall increase in police resources in East Gippsland.
Sgt Craigie, who lives in Marlo with her husband, Jason Coath, and teenage son, has been with the Orbost police station since 2012.
Sgt Geddes is married to dairy farmer, Blair Austin, and together the couple has three young children.
She has been with the police force since the mid 2000s, spending two years in Preston before taking up a country secondment in Bairnsdale for 12 months.
When asked to do temporary duties in Orbost because of a staff shortage, Sgt Geddes agreed and has remained in the town.
Having grown up in Toorloo Arm, where her parents, Maree and Neil, still reside,
Sgt Geddes is familiar with East Gippsland, although she says it was initially always her intention to return to Melbourne once she had completed her required stint at a country station.
Both Sgt Geddes and Sgt Craigie are delighted with their promotions and agree policing takes on a whole new perspective in communities where everyone knows everybody.
“You’re much more invested in community,” Sgt Craigie said.
“You have the time and capacity to put into the community.”
“It also makes you approachable,” Sgt Geddes said.
However, both sergeants say even though they are well known in the community, people are respectful that they have a job to do and maintain neutrality where required.
“We’re held to higher standards than the average community member, so it’s important to maintain that standard,” Sgt Craigie said.
Both women are also mindful of setting clear boundaries.
“We don’t tend to socialise with people who are our customers,” Sgt Geddes said, explaining that she’d be the first to remove herself from an investigation to negate any potential conflict of interest.
“People are watching us, we’re highly aware of that,” Sgt Craigie said.
Being based in Orbost has meant the team is more likely to be focussed on ongoing investigations.
Sgt Geddes says being “able to investigate crimes fully and thoroughly, rather than them being pandered off to criminal investigation units” was a rewarding part of the job.
“We handle more investigations here,” she said. Both sergeants are heavily nvolved with key stakeholders in emergency management because of issues confronting the community, namely, bushfires, floods and searches for missing people in the remote landscape.
The area is also prone to its fair share of car accidents which usually render an emergency response.
Sgt Geddes, who lives on a farm with her husband, kids and 600 milking cows, is involved in a lot of sporting clubs.
She is often at the local football match as a spectator or on duty, as is Sgt Craigie.
Sgt Craigie has had the advantage of having acted in the sergeant’s position for a period of two years and is grateful to be now be carrying out the role in her own right.
Previously a police officer in Melbourne for eight years, Sgt Craigie says the relocation to East Gippsland is one of the best moves she’s ever made.
Her husband, who owns a small excavating business in Marlo, also enjoys the country lifestyle. Sgt Craigie’s parents live in Marlo too having moved to the area years ago.
Her father, Dave Craigie, was instrumental in building a skiff (boat) for the Marlo community to utilise.
Sgt Craigie tries to row every Sunday, weather permitting.
For Sgt Geddes, she was single when she arrived in Orbost but as chance had it, she met the man of her dreams and is now firmly anchored in East Gippsland.
Sgt Geddes is presently working part time while she raises her young family and helps run the two farms she owns with her husband.
For Orbost, having two women invested in both their jobs and the community is not only a bonus, but significant.
The appointments mark the first time the Orbost police station has promoted a female police officer to the rank of sergeant and now they have two.
Graeme Shenton, who works out of Orbost, has also been promoted to sergeant.
Newly anointed sergeants, Jo Geddes and Andrea Craigie, are keeping the law and order in Orbost. K424-7035