Founder of the Deadly Awards, the annual celebration of indigenous achievement in music, sport, entertainment and community, Gavin Jones was found dead in his Goulburn home on Saturday. He was 47 years old.
Fairfax Media reports Jones’ family did not want to discuss the nature of his death but said he had been devastated recently when he learnt that he would lose an estimated $400,000 worth of federal funding for his various projects. “Yes, it was a huge blow to him,” his long-time friend Shelley Reys, told Fairfax. “He was very disappointed by the lack of support, not just to the business but to what the business provided to young people.”
Vibe Australia, which runs the Deadly Awards, revealed on Monday night that this year’s event had been cancelled because of the funding cuts. The awards had been due to take place on September 30th. They said they were informed in June that Federal Government funds would be redirected to other “frontline” services.
Mr Jones spent two decades of his life building the Vibe Project which included the Deadly Awards, Deadly Vibe and InVibe magazines, Deadly Sounds radio, Move It Mob Style TV and deadlyvibe.com.au. Vibe Australia confirmed the federal funding cuts brought to an end the entire operation.
This year was supposed to mark the 20th anniversary of the Deadly Awards, a ceremony that in the past has highlighted the achievement of indigenous artists such as Yothu Yindi, Archie Roach, Jessica Mauboy and Dan Sultan.
“Like the whole Vibe organisation, I see the Deadlys as a vehicle to empower our people,” Jones said in a 2012 interview, via the Vibe Australia website. “Indigenous health is a disgrace, but I see our work as a way of improving this. If people are proud of who they are and where they come from, then that will lift their self-esteem. And that can only lead to better health.”
Many have since paid tribute to Jones, remembering him as an inspirational leader. “There is a massive void that is left from his absence, and we must never, ever forget the contribution he has made,” said Luke Carroll, a long-time host of the Deadly Awards. “I will love him and continue to love him. We all miss you Gav, and we’ll see you in the Dreamtime.”