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Officers killed by Kelly gang honoured

Infamous bushranger Ned Kelly is etched in Australian history but for the descendants of his police victims, the officers' heroism is far more admirable than the man in the helmet.

Three police officers slain by the Kelly gang more than 100 years ago were posthumously awarded the Victoria Police Star during a National Police Remembrance Day ceremony on Monday.

Constables Michael Scanlan and Thomas Lonigan, and Sergeant Michael Kennedy were killed in October 1878 when their campsite at Stringybark Creek was attacked by Dan and Ned Kelly, and associates Steve Hart and Joe Byrne.

Sgt Kennedy's great-grandson Leo Kennedy said the award meant a lot to his family who were very proud and humbled.

"For his work to be recognised and acknowledged 136 years afterwards, and how he lost his life, is quite an awesome thing for the family who have had to deal with it through generations," the Melbourne man told AAP.

"There has been bad movies, fictional accounts, a mixture of fiction and fact that has overwritten the truth.

"They have had to deal with people making a profit through a man who wears a helmet."

Mr Kennedy said it was important his heroic great-grandfather, who led a number of dangerous missions and treated everyone with respect, was not forgotten.

"It's one thing that's puzzled me, that we don't recognise our police heroes and people in authority that did do good things," he said.

He did not name Ned Kelly in his speech when accepting Sgt Kennedy's award.

"People forget, or neglect to realise, this person murdered three policemen," Mr Kennedy told AAP.

He said the stabbing of two officers by a teenage terror suspect outside a Melbourne police station last week was "a bit of a lightning bolt".

"We don't want any other person hurt or killed in the line of duty," Mr Kennedy told reporters.

Sergeant Erin Tunstall accepted the award on behalf of the Lonigan family, while police are trying to locate any living relatives of Const Scanlan.

Ned Kelly faced trial for killing Const Lonigan and was hanged in November 1880.

The Melbourne ceremony was one of several held around the country to honour fallen police.

"Every day that goes by since we lost an officer means we're one day closer to the next loss of an officer," NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told reporters in Sydney.

"Freedom doesn't come for free. There's a price to be paid and everyone that's got their name on their wall gave more than their fair share."