Gavin Jones, the Aboriginal founder of annual indigenous awards ceremony the Deadly Awards, was found dead at his Goulburn farm on Saturday after hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal funding was withdrawn.
Mr Jones, 47, was said to have been “very disappointed” after discovering last month that funding for Vibe Australia, which runs the Deadly Awards, would be redirected to other programs.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, while Jones’ family would not discuss the nature of his passing, they did recognise that he was deeply affected by the loss of funding.
“Yes, it was a huge blow to him,” long-time friend Shelley Reys said. “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 revealed that they were forced to cancel this year’s Deadly Awards due to the funding cuts. The company said they were informed in June that the cuts would take place from July 1. The awards were to take place in September.
Mr Jones created the precursor to the Deadly Awards – the Deadly Sounds music and culture radio show – in 1993.
The awards were started to celebrate indigenous achievement across the sport, music and entertainment industries.
Last year, the awards attracted a record 95,000 vote and 500,000 viewers.
“He was a visionary,” said Ms Reys. “He was a huge personality. He was larger than life. He did everything with style and flair.
“There was an exuberance that was contagious to the people who spent time with him and were swept up in that exuberance. Many have said to me ‘It’s hard to imagine a world without Gavin Jones.’
“He inspired young indigenous people before we even really knew what that meant. He was building and inspiring, connecting young Aboriginal people with one and other and the wider community.”