Court officer leaves post
PATRICE White has finally done her time and all that remains is an occasional spot of voluntary community service.
The well-liked and respected compliance officer soaked up the affection of workmates yesterday as she and her husband enjoyed her send-off from what is now the Department of Community Safety, after nearly 20 years of hard labour overseeing probation and community service orders imposed by the courts.
Her boss Michael O'Neill said she had earned the respect of her employer, her colleagues and, perhaps most difficult of all, her clients.
"I've worked with some of the people regarded as the roughest in town and we've always got along," she said at the send-off lunch, held yesterday at the Freemasons Hotel, just down the road from the courthouse where she has done some of her most important work.
"She's administered community service programs at the Gympie Probation and Parole Office for almost 20 years," Mr O'Neill said yesterday.
"She had a great rapport with her clients, but if she had to she could be firm in insisting they fulfil their responsibilities.
"She was also excellent as a court prosecutor and (this is where the voluntary service comes in) she intends to continue to make a contribution as a volunteer.
"She has made a tremendous contribution to her community."
Mrs White said she had started in administration roles in 1992 and within a year had become a compliance officer.
"I was always up at the courts and called on to give advice," she said.
Sometimes that advice would not always be in the client's favour.
"But I can walk down the street now and go shopping and I frequently run into people I've worked with.
"Some of the toughest will come up and say 'Hi Patrice' and ask how I am.
"In my 20 years, I've only had one person I worked with not be nice to me outside work.
"It's how you treat people.
"If I treat people not like they're offenders but like they are people, they tend to treat me the same way.
"I've seen a few changes - too many really and not all for the better."
But spending more time with family will be a big change in the right direction.
"We've got two grandchildren now and a lot of travelling to do," she said.