Traditional owner and former Indigenous police officer’s life celebrated
About 1,000 people gathered on Monday to farewell one of the Daly region’s most respected traditional owners at a ceremony months in the making.
- Mr E Perdjert became a police tracker shortly after his daughter was born in 1981.
- In 1987 he became a police aide and then in 1994 he became an aboriginal community police officer
- In 1995 he was given a Commissioner’s commendation for his bravery during a riot
- Retired from police for the first time in 2006 and then he returned later as an Aboriginal liaison officer
- Retired again last year and was awarded the Commissioner’s policing excellence medal
Mr E Perdjert, 66, was laid to rest surrounded by his family, friends and former Northern Territory police colleagues on country in the community of Wadeye.
From the Kardu Diminin clan group, Mr Perdjert passed away in March, but such was his status in the community his funeral took months to organise.
He was born in Wadeye in 1951 and grew up on the Port Keats Mission before moving away to become a stockman at Legune Station.
But it was Mr Perdert’s bush skills, taught to him as a young child by his parents, which saw him embark on a 30-year career with NT Police.
After working as a tracker for many years, Mr Perdjert also worked as an Aboriginal community police officer, a sometimes difficult job that served as a bridge between the community and police.
As many locals attested, Mr Perdjert’s legacy extended far beyond his police career.
He was described as a social-minded person, whose strong work ethic and solid principles were exemplified by his dedication to improving the lives of those in his community.
“My brother always tried to hold our people together,” his brother, Deacon Boniface Perdjert, said.
“He was a peacemaker.
“He worked with all people in our community to keep the peace.”
His niece, Margaret Perdjert, said his spirit would live on.
Deacon Boniface Perdjert, left, at his brother Mr E Perdjert’s funeral. (ABC News: Georgia Hitch)
Acting Assistant Commissioner Tony Fuller described Mr Perdjert as the type of person “everyone knew”.
“He was a brave man and very good at talking to people to sort out problems and calm things down,” he said.
“It didn’t matter where people were from or what language they spoke, he always helped them to sort thugs out and tried to keep the community safe.
“Mr Perdjert was unquestionably one of the most recognisable characters in Wadeye.
“His infectious laugh and cheeky smile will be sorely missed by all who had the absolute pleasure of knowing him.”
The ceremony spoke to all aspects of Mr Perdjert’s life — his body was escorted into the town’s church by a police guard of honour before being welcomed by traditional dancers.
Mr Perdjert is survived by his wife Carmelita, sons Norman, Laurence and Geoffrey and daughters Ernestina and Jocelyn.
NT Police watch on as the body of Mr E Perdjert arrives for his funeral. (ABC News: Georgia Hitch)