Eurobodalla Shire Magistrate Doug Dick has marked 45 years in the justice system.
Magistrate Dick reached his milestone in February this year.
His 45 years in the justice system includes 26 years on the bench and 19 in the registry.
The 64-year-old first entered a courthouse as a young and enthusiastic 18-year-old landing a job as a court registry clerk.
He worked his way up the ranks to registrar in 1986 before being appointed as a Local Court magistrate in 1994.
Magistrate Dick currently sits at six courts including Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma, Bega, Eden and Bombala. Throughout his career, he's worked at more than 60 courthouses, including Nowra and Milton.
"I never get sick of the success stories. It's a bit like the golfers who get got a hole-in-one, they keep coming back to the course every week to see if he can repeat that feat," he said.
Magistrate Dick was the driving force behind the introduction of Circle Sentencing in NSW in 2002, which is designed to break down barriers between the justice system and Aboriginal communities.
Circle sentencing is without a doubt the biggest achievement of my life. It is a recipe for changing offending behaviour.Magistrate Doug Dick
It is an alternative sentencing approach that takes Aboriginal adult offenders out of a traditional courtroom and before a magistrate and circle of Elders, as well as the victim, family members, lawyers and police.
A new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released at the end of May found Aboriginal people who participate in Circle Sentencing have lower rates of imprisonment and recidivism than those sentenced in the traditional way.
"Without a doubt, this is the biggest achievement of my life," Magistrate Dick said.
"Circle sentencing is a recipe for changing offending behaviour.
"It empowers Aboriginal people to have a say in the sentencing options for Indigenous offenders which is a powerful tool in breaking the cycle of recidivism.
"The penalties imposed by the circle are intended to be no less onerous than those for similar offences in conventional courts.
"The procedure is less formal, and the offender is more likely to sit up and take notice and understand the harm they've caused to the community and their victim.
"In this regard, there is generally an acceptance of responsibility as well as an apology for the offending behaviour - a platform upon which rehabilitation can be built."
The first person sentenced in circle sentencing found a new direction in life through art.
It's been one of the hardest years on record with bushfires, floods and now COVID, but I am constantly blown away by the resilience of locals. A trio of disasters yet people remain optimistic and are focused on helping their neighbours and towns get through this challenging time. It puts everything into perspective.Magistrate Doug Dick
The Judicial Commission of NSW purchased one of his works which symbolised the changes he made in his life.
"He said he used to be like one of the jellyfish shown in the middle scene of the painting. Swimming with the school, until he became like the stronger fish swimming in the opposite direction, finding its own way," Magistrate Dick said.
"You don't get any more powerful than that."
Magistrate Dick certainly doesn't take anything for granted, particularly after the challenging year the South Coast has faced with bushfires, floods and COVID-19.
"It's been one of the hardest years on record, but I am constantly blown away by the resilience of locals," he said.
"It was a trio of disasters yet people remain optimistic and are focused on helping their neighbours and towns get through this challenging time. It puts everything into perspective."