(Transcript from World News Radio)
The extravagant event pays tribute to the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders across music, sport, the arts and other fields.
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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Deadly Awards.
The spectacular night celebrating Indigenous achievement has come a long way in two decades.
The first celebration was held in a community centre in Redfern, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, but for the past 12 years the Deadlys have been showcased at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Executive Producer and founder of the Deadly’s, Gavin Jones, is proud of how the event has progressed.
“We started off as a very small community, like a PA system in the corner, with some cut sandwiches for after the show and some photocopied certificates in some frames. But it’s always had a certain magic to it, it’s hard to put your finger on what it is but this feeling of togetherness, this feeling of the future and how great life can be has always been a force at the Deadlys since the very beginning and it’s always been very well attended. I think it goes to show that there really was a lack of recognition in society for Aboriginal achievement and excellence.”
Mr Jones says the Deadlys’ organisers directly engage with the Indigenous community through the nomination and voting processes, and last year received a record 95,000 votes.
He says the awards are significant to the Indigenous community in encouraging hard work and displaying talent.
“It means that the community is not waiting for mainstream Australia to say that you’re alright. It’s us claiming that space for ourselves. We can tell ourselves that we’re ok. And we’ve got such a huge variety and depth of talent across the whole fabric of the community and we can shine a light on that ourselves.”
In 2014 the awards will be distributed in the areas of music, sport, health, education, cultural advancement and in a new category – Science.
For the 20th anniversary this year, celebrations will include a look back at the history of the Deadlys, and will honour the finalists and winners over the two decades.
Mr Jones says at its core, the Deadlys aim to highlight the achievement, excellence and contribution of Indigenous people to their communities and to wider Australia.
“The main message is to showcase to Australia the huge contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to society and that’s in all walks of society from music to sport, to the arts to entertainment to health and to the education sector but also to showcase to our own community the great successes that we have and the excellence that we strive for and achieve.”
Previous winners of Deadly awards include singers Christine Anu, Casey Donovan and Jessica Mauboy, magistrate Pat O’Shane, and Sydney Swans A-F-L star Adam Goodes.
Nominations for the 20th Deadly Awards are open now and close on 30th June 2014.