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Gavin Jones (1966 – 2014)


Indigenous Australia mourns the loss of a true pioneer

On Saturday morning, July 12th 2014, the managing director of Deadly Vibe, Gavin Jones, passed away in his hometown of Goulburn, New South Wales, at the age of 47.

Gavin was a respected and widely admired figure and leader of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, who worked tirelessly towards the advancement and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Gavin was born on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal and Gundungurra peoples at Goulburn, in southern New South Wales. While he grew up in the provincial town between Sydney and Canberra, the family’s roots were in Bigga, Binda, Crookwell and Tuena. He was raised by his mother, father and grandmother, along with his three sisters.

After finishing school, Gavin started a journalism cadetship at the Goulburn Post newspaper before completing a communications degree at the University of Canberra in 1989. He then began working in journalism across various Government departments.

The company he founded in 1993, Deadly Vibe, forged new ground in its holistic approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement. Gavin’s vision and mission for Deadly Vibe was to: ‘Support all Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people in reaching their full potential by providing positive imagery, identifiable role models and quality media to improve community and quality of life.’

Deadly Vibe launched a series of unique and successful products, all reinforcing the importance of self-worth and self-esteem to the overall health of the Indigenous community by the promotion of positive Indigenous stories, and focussing upon the achievements of Indigenous Australians across all aspects of society, along with targeted health messaging.

Importantly, this approach came at a time when the national media cycle served only to reinforce negative stereotypes and negative depictions of Indigenous Australians. It was this negative and ‘unhealthy’ imbalance in the reporting of Indigenous peoples and communities that spurred Gavin to launch Deadly Vibe.

After launching the Deadly Sounds radio program in 1993, in 1995, Gavin launched Deadly Vibe magazine, a first of its kind monthly publication that delivered positive Indigenous stories and health messaging directly to schools and communities. At the time of Gavin’s passing, Deadly Vibe magazine had reached its 209th issue, and is among the most recognised Indigenous media products in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities, reaching a national distribution figure of 55 000 per month, most of whom are students.

Commenting on the genesis of Deadly Vibe magazine, Gavin wrote in the editorial for the 200th issue in 2013.

“Overly negative media was the reason why we started Deadly Vibe magazine. To put something positive in the hands of our young people; something of a high professional quality that could be read and handed around at home or school that told a different story. A story we could be proud of. A magazine that was ours. Something that had blackfellas achieving and breaking stereotypes – achieving in music, sport, at a community level, in the health sector, at school and in the work force. Something our young people can get excited about, and be justifiably proud.”

Soon after Deadly Vibe magazine, Gavin launched InVibe magazine, an insert into Deadly Vibe produced specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison and juvenile detention centers, delivering targeted health messaging focusing on mental health, sexual health, information on substance abuse, and Vibe’s mission of promoting pride and self-worth.

The ethos of Deadly Vibe and Deadly Sounds was also refashioned into a youth event – the Vibe 3on3, a travelling event that brought Indigenous role models, health and education expo’s, breakdancing workshops, and a round robin basketball tournament into regional communities – all with the aim of fostering cultural pride, self-worth and improved health awareness for young people. Over its 15 years, the Vibe 3on3 has made an impact upon the lives of countless young Australians.

The first event that would become the Deadlys was held in 1994 as a celebration for the first year of Deadly Sounds broadcasting. Gavin’s conviction in the importance of Vibe’s messaging quickly propelled the event from being a low-key community get-together to a unique national Indigenous awards night, celebrating the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples.

In 2013, the Deadlys celebrated its 19th year, by then having become one of the major and most highly anticipated events on the Indigenous calendar, held at the Sydney Opera House, and broadcast nationally on the SBS network.

In a 2012 interview, Gavin stated the inspiration behind the Deadlys:

“Like the whole Vibe organisation, I see the Deadlys as a vehicle to empower our people. 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.”

In 2008, Gavin launched Vibe TV, producing the programs Living Strong, which delivered informative health stories and profiles, and, Move it Mob Style, a program which combined Vibe’s promotion of self-worth and cultural pride with other health messaging and hip hop dance workshops and routines. Move it Mob Style is currently broadcast on NITV and ABC3, bringing Aboriginal faces and culture into the homes of thousands of Australians of all backgrounds, and, in 2014, was nominated for a Logie Award in the Children Entertainment category.

Gavin was a silent leader, continually pushing the achievements and contributions of others into the spotlight while himself shying away from accolades and recognition. Through his passionate and incredible work ethic, ambition, creative drive and commitment to the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over more than two decades, Gavin leaves behind an impressive legacy, and will be remembered as a man who made a huge contribution to his community, and helped to change the fabric of Australian society, providing successful and impactful nationwide platforms for Indigenous Australians to celebrate their achievements, survival, pride and culture.

Noted for his generosity, kindness, and genuine care for others, Gavin was one of the true pioneers and heroes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement, and will be missed and remembered by the countless individuals whose lives he touched, and helped to improve.

The following people have provided these tributes in memory of a great man.

“What a blessing, when 21 years ago Gavin and I sat in a coffee shop and talked about how great it would be to have a national radio program, our own AFI’s, and a magazine, and look what he did with his wisdom, passion and love for all our mob. So many seedlings have been produced across the industry because of this one man and his passion. He really was a pioneer, and I thank you deadly brother. Rest, then dance well with our mob because you will always be in our hearts and are one of greatest shining stars.”

– Rhoda Roberts

A close friend of Gavin and supporter throughout this career, Rhoda Roberts worked closely with Gavin as both the host of Deadly Sounds and as co-artistic director of the Deadlys for several years, among many other projects.

Gavin Jones is a true hero of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He was selfless and he dedicated his life to celebrating our achievements and inspiring our youth in particular to develop the resilience they need to face their future. RIP Gav.

– Dr Tom Calma AO

Health and human rights campaigner Dr Tom Calma is a former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and has also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner.

I would like everyone to know that Gavin Jones was a colossus in achieving positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for more than 20 years across Australia. He had many difficult hurdles to overcome as an Aboriginal man in Australia and he always managed to produce a successful result for his people. For one who gained so much success and recognition, he was a man who was unpretentious and developed absolute humility. Indigenous Australia has lost a genuine icon and the giant footprints and enormous legacy he leaves should be celebrated and commemorated forever.

– Claude Williams

A prominent sporting figure and respected elder of Sydney’s Indigenous community, Claude Williams worked as event coordinator for the Vibe 3on3 for over 10 years.

Gavin was more than just a boss; he was the head of the Deadly Vibe family. He was a great friend and mentor to me and many others. A true trailblazer, there was nothing that he couldn’t do – whether it was managing the company, writing an article, unleashing his creativity or producing an amazing event – he excelled at everything he did, and did it with sensitivity, style and amazing generosity. I believe his greatest legacy is the family that he created, not just for those of us who had the honour of working with him at Deadly Vibe, but the greater network of brothers and sisters who came into contact with Gavin and his beloved Deadly Vibe, whether it was through Deadly Sounds, the Vibe 3on3, the Deadlys, Move It Mob Style, or any of the other projects he created. Thank you Gavin for dedicating your life to the betterment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I am blessed to have been able to work with you, learn from you and share your wonderful journey. It is now time for you to be Deadly in the Dreamtime. We will miss you every day and honour your spirit by continuing to be the best we can all be.

– Mayrah Sonter

Deadly Vibe Event Manager Mayrah Sonter worked closely with Gavin across the Vibe 3on3 and the Deadlys, as well as Vibe TV series Living Strong and Move it Mob Style.

I’m saddened to hear of the loss of a friend, a brother, a warrior, a real leader in Aboriginal affairs, health, sport, entertainment – the list goes on and on. Thanks for everything Gavin.

– Shannon Williams

Hip Hop artist Shannon Williams has been a long time host of the Vibe 3on3 and also co-host of Move It Mob Style.

The Australian community, not only the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community, has lost a genuine leader of people. Gavin Jones was a mentor, brother, father figure, and great confidant, not only to me, but to so many within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entertainment, sporting, and grass roots community. His ambition and drive in promoting our people on the biggest and brightest stage possible was his passion, and he did this without any thought of personal gain, he was the most giving and generous person I have ever known and his legacy and the ramifications of his death will be felt for many generations to come. There is a massive void that is left from his absence, and we must never, ever forget the contribution he has made. I will love him and continue to love him. We all miss you Gav, and we’ll see you in the Dreamtime.

– Luke Carroll

Film, stage and television star Luke Carroll has been a long-time host of the Deadly Awards and has also worked for Deadly Vibe as a role model on events.

Leave your own tribute for Gavin Jones in the comments field at the bottom of the page.



  1. Cheryl O'Donnell

    My team and I had the greatest pleasure working along side Gavin and the team over the past 5 years with the Hip Hop and Basketball competitions and had known Gavin back from early school years. He was a true gentleman. His achievements had me in awe, his enthusiasm to make this a better place for every young person to grow up in he was not one to do things for himself but for everyone else. Rest in peace Gavin you will be sadly missed by all your mates at the Goulburn Mission Australia office.

  2. AndreaH

    What a true inspiration to not only Aboriginals, but all Australians. A huge loss to the arts and a beautiful community. Gavin has left a legacy. He is an icon and in Australia’s heart for ever more.

  3. Nina

    To the Vibe family my heart goes out to you Gavin was a trailblazer and a leader he will be missed by not only his Vibe family but everyone who he made contact with across the country. Gavin and Vibe did some amazing things in the outback communities of Australia where other services and entertainers did not venture. Thank you Gavin for the opportunities that you gave my sons they will never forget you. Rest In Peace another warrior gone to the Dreamtime.

  4. glen crump

    gav you a inspiration to everyone who ever new you a mentor freind and collegue to many a man who belived in the youth of Australia and had a vision for health and education for our mob you touched the moree community in many ways when we spoke about vibe doing something in moree you said we will get there in true to your word you prouduced two magnificent festivals for our town gav ur are a true mentor and freind to me and i will miss our convesations and your words of encouragement RIP my brother luv allways and see u in the dreamtime

  5. Shirley Hamid

    So I have this evening heard of a dear friends passing on Saturday. A man that helped me and many people thru some tough times and certainly gave me many laughs along the way!! I was privileged to work with him costuming performers in many of the Deadly’s and with the Vibe family on many different projects!!! I met many amazing Indigenous creative and inspirational people I now call friends thru this time and I know Gavin will be missed by many!!! Love and will miss you my friend!!! Shirley xxxxxx

  6. Joe Willials

    Gavin Jones – where do I start with what hasn’t already been mentioned..
    A leader in Aboriginal Health, Sport, Arts & community – a gentle human being that told you raw truths for the better of ones self. I will never ever forget the way you treated myself & my children’s mother Suzie Cubillo when Suzie worked at Vibe – looked after us as if we were your own. The honestly, the humour & your gentleness will be missed and something I will hold in my heart forever. A beautiful man who is loved & will be missed by many!!! See you in the dreamtime my brother.
    Joey W xx

  7. Sammi Fatnowna

    Thanks to Gavin for visiting little old Kempsey town a few years back for vibe 3on3. It was a waited for event that only comes rarely here so it was really appreciated.
    RIP and thank you you to him for his vision and passion 🙂

  8. Marcia Langton

    I am heartbroken to receive this news of Gavin Jones’ passing. I have loved working with him and admired his great genius for celebrating the best achievements in our community and bringing out the best in everyone who was lucky enough to around him. My condolences to his family and friends. I will miss him so much.

  9. Donna Jeffries

    What an absolute gorgeous soul. So anxious to be the very best he could be & to give 110% in all he committed to. His positive nature was infectious & inspiring for everyone who worked with & knew him. You have left some almighty footprints right across this country. Your legacy will never be forgotten. Rest easy my friend.

  10. Michael Connell

    I had the privilege to work with Gavin on a project over 10 years ago . He was inspirational with unlimited energy and determination. Vale Gavin

  11. Alfie Walker

    This is a lovely tribute to my gorgeous best friend! This is a very tough farewell & week ahead!

    • Jenni Tillett

      Thoughts n prayers with you fullas. Xx

  12. Noel Niddrie

    If the best we can hope for in our three score and ten is to make a difference, the world having been better for our footsteps in the dirt, to be loved and admired, then Gavin Jones has overachieved.

    As a contemporary colleague he was funny, warm, helpful and engaging. His goal was not to get the biggest slice of the pie, but rather to make the pie bigger for us all.

    As a man, Gavin was big and generous. His personality, like his vision and ambition, was larger than life, infectious and inspiring. I once asked him if he’d ever consider moving from Sydney and living somewhere else. He looked disdainfully at my suggestion and asked rhetorically, and with more than a little dramatic flourish, “Look at me. I’m Gavin Jones! Where else would I live?” He was right. Only Australia’s biggest city could hold one of its biggest personalities.

    I almost wish I hadn’t met Gavin Jones because I know what will be missing in the world when I wake tomorrow. But, whilst the loss is overwhelming, I know my life is richer for having been touched by this great man.

    Vale Gavin. We all stand on your giant shoulders and look out to the future. Whilst the skies look grey today, we know the dawn will be bright thanks to you.

  13. Mark Olive

    What an absolute shock! Gavin,s humour and mateship will always be remembered, as will his passion for the communities nation wide. His joy in seeing his comrades achieve their highest goals was always a priority and this, as with many aspects of such a generous soul will be missed. Condolences to all his family and rest easy Gav, in knowing you did amazing, and achieved so much for aboriginal Australia

  14. Liza-Mare Syron

    I met Gavin in 1994 after some time away from Sydney. He had an office on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. I worked downstairs at a community NGO. Gavin’s door was always open to me and through his generosity I found my way back to myself and to my community. A loving, smiling, affectionate, passionate man with smiley eyes and an open heart. Gone too soon. X

  15. Bo de la Cruz

    Going to miss u my friend. Appreciated n loved u so much. U paved the way and gave hope to so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including myself. I can’t express how greatful I was to have u in my life. Our people will forever be thankful and appreciative of how hard u worked and dedicated ur own life to better the life of ours. I’m going to miss u Gavin Jones and that beautiful big laugh and smile. This world won’t be the same without u and there will never be another person like u. Ur legacy will live on forever. Love u n will miss u so much. Till the next time my friend. Xxx

  16. Terri Janke

    Gavin Jones set the bar high with his style, commitment and passion. His work brought a change to how Indigenous people were portrayed in media. His work promoted positive stories, strong culture and Indigenous achievement. I was proud to have worked with Gavin, and I was humbled that he also took time to encourage me to go into business 14 years ago. He was an inspiration and someone who I would always make me feel happier after seeing. I will never forget his smile. Best wishes to his partner, his family, and his colleagues. You will shine in the sky as a very bright star, Gavin.

  17. Isaac Parsons

    Just can’t believe that such a significant person has left us all. It always seems to be the best that leaves us early and brother Gav was one of the best. He not only looked after a lot of people like his own family but done so much for our community. I feel very privileged to have met and experienced the wonderful energy that Gavin put out. You empowered and connected a lot of us in so many ways it is unbelievable and will now feel like one big cool dream. You definately lived a Hollywood lifestyle my big brother and I wished we could have grew a little older together! Where ever you are I hope your resting in true peace, you deserve it. :/ May the vibe live on! – Bboy 2ezy.

  18. Stephen Ridgeway Jr

    I had the honor of taking care of security for Gavin at a few Deadly Awards nights in the past years, I must say he was a good bloke, tuff boss, but had a good heart & took the time to talk to people & listen. You did a lot for our people & for that I thank you, your going to be missed mate, safe journey & one day will catch up & have that beer 🙂

  19. Karla Grant

    I am deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss of my very dear friend Gavin. What more can I say that hasn’t already been said. Gavin was a true leader and visionary. He worked tirelessly and selflessly his entire life for the betterment of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. No words can describe just how much he will be missed by my family and I, and to all those whose lives he has touched. I will miss you my dear friend and will never forget all the wonderful times we shared. My heart goes out to Pav, Vicky & family, and to Georgia and the Vibe Family. Xxx

  20. Ian Jopson

    Vale Gavin, I never knew you to be anything other than a kind, generous and supportive man of great humor. Very sad to see you have left us way too soon and I honor your great contribution to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and indeed the Australian community itself. Thank you for all the laughs over the years, you left your mark on many people. On to the dreamtime Gavin x

  21. Terry Hoskin

    Gavin was an inspiration to all he came to know his message to me was give the children the best time of their lives educate and radiate positive vibes cause we all know there are plenty of negatives for our people .That was my first contact with gavin I found him to be a great leader and someone whom I was privileged to know .Today is a sad day for me I commiserate with his family and friends the loss of a truly great man rip gavin your vibe will be remembered with the soul who created it

  22. Barbara McGrady

    RIP brother Gav. I will truly miss your beautiful spirit and gorgeous smile. You were a visionary and champion for our mob and your legacy will live on.

  23. Mauricio Lopez

    I was shocked when I saw the news of the passing of Gavin. I first met Gavin working on the Radio show Deadly Sounds as the sound guy. Gavin welcomed me with open arms. I will never forget the passion he had for the show.

    You will be missed Gavin. My thoughts go to his family and work colleagues.

  24. Marjorie Anderson

    Gavin leaves an inspirational legacy that will never be forgotten. He was an amazing man to work with and taught others to reach for the stars. I have fond memories of when we were both on the Board of Gadigal Information Services (Koori Radio) in the mid 90’s and we would go back to his place on the block to eat and laugh after the meetings. We worked together on many projects and he was always there to take on any challenge we faced. The world will be a sadder place without you in it Gav but all those young people you inspired will keep your legacy going for decades to come. I am sending my love and big hugs to Vicki and the rest of the family, I am so sorry for your loss. Till we see each other again, love to you my brother.

  25. Nyunggai Warren Mundine

    We have lost a great man in Gavin Jones and a trailblazer in the arts and media. Gavin gave a voice to contemporary Aboriginal culture and will be sorely missed. My condolences and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.

  26. Triy Cassar-Daley

    Gavin to me always wanted to change perceptions of our mob in the media, when all main stream Australia were being fed mostly negative stories ,he was at the forefront with Deadly vibe magazine and deadly sounds radio show telling good news stories about indigenous Australia. I hope we all carry on with that in mind and think about Gav when we read something positive!
    Troy C-D Country singer.

  27. Rebecca

    Very sad to hear this news thoughts are with Gavin’s family and friends. What a great legacy he leaves x

  28. Pino Migliorino

    I have known and worked along side Gavin for the past 20 years. I was infected by his enthusiasm, his passion, and his commitment to make a difference. I also shared the more difficult times after an MCGC meeting when GJCVibe had lost out on a tender. He was not sad about losing the work, he was sad at losing the opportunity to deliver the message, make a difference, improve someone’s life. His development and nurturing of those beautiful and meaningful products such as Vibe, Deadly Sounds, in Vibe, the Deadly Awards and the defunct 3 on 3 was beautiful. All were driven by him, all were an extension of him. I had the privilege to review these the precious children a few years back and taken by Gavin’s vulnerability and concern at any potential criticism we may find. But there was no criticism to find. Each in its own way was and is necessary, each carrying the positive message of Aboriginal culture and need to be strong and healthy. I can only imagine how Gavin might have felt when made aware of the government’s funding intention. Hi loss must have been fathomless.

    Gavin has left a legacy, a very real legacy of all the people who knew him, all the people he reached and in some way changed their lives, all the people he promoted for their achievements , strength and positive role modelling. There will be an outpouring of grief over these days and our sadness will remain but we must also fight to keep his legacy.

    There will never be another Gavin Jones and I am a far better person for knowing him. Vale Gavin and my deepest condolences to his family and close friends. Our collective tears would be enough to fill a dam.

  29. Jacqui Bonner

    I had the great privilege of working with Gavin on numerous Deadly Awards at the Opera House and his enthusiasm, style and encouragement was never ending. I am terribly saddened by this news and am thinking of his sister Vicki and his family and the Vibe team at this terrible time. Vale Gavin, your legacy for working for your people to have a better life will live on. May there be a never ending supply of Bubbles for you my friend. You shall be deeply missed.

  30. Soozie Gillies

    My heart is broken and the world is a much darker place.
    I sent this to Mayrah and Gavin on the 1st of April this year.

    Well today marks my 3rd anniversary of commencing work for Gavin Jones and The Vibe Australia Group. What an honour it has been so far; 2014 will be my fourth ‘Deadly’s’ and the ‘Deadly’s’ 20th anniversary – wow. I remember so vividly my first ‘Deadly’s’ and how awe struck I was with the whole production and how thrilled I was to be part of making it happen. Turned out to be the longest working day of my life to that point – but I keep doing it again and again and I love it.

    The Deadly Vibe 3 on 3 Basketball and Hip Hop Challenge keeps me busy most of the year, with anything from 12 to 15 events each year. In the course of delivering those events over the past 3 years I have travelled over 140 thousand kilometres. 95,000 of those in our own truck, a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter 4.5 with custom made black pan to store our Basketball poles.

    I have also been fortunate to have worked on events such as the Apology concert for the Healing Foundation both in Canberra and Melbourne, NAIDOC for the City of Sydney and various other conference work and Vibe’s own ‘Vibe Alive Festivals’ all over Australia.

    Thankyou Gavin; for the opportunity to work for your company, for giving me a job that I love, for early morning starts, long days, and thousands of kilometres to travel. I love it all. Thank you for a work place where I can be proud not only of my own heritage but proud of what we deliver each and every time we represent the company.

    I knew I had big boots to fill, following on from Michael O’Meagher, and I was blessed to have good mentors in Anneka Barnes and Neil O’Meagher on my first gig in Mount Barker, SA. I am pleased that Michael has re-joined the team both as Operations / Logistic assistant and now as photo library developer for our old stills. Who knew there were two people in the country that could get along so well and in some weird way be so similar in so many ways? I don’t try to explain it, it just is; Gavin draws people to him who stand up and do what is required; when it’s required.

    I have worked in many environments, but I have never been happier or fitter than right now; the diversity of my job, our amazing team, the people we meet along the way, the imagination and the physicality of what I do makes me keen to go to work each day.

    I look forward to many more April fools days. I can’t remember if Gavin made it the 31st or the 2nd as my official start date, but It was the 1st of April; It did feel a bit surreal, but it lasted past midday so no April fool’s joke – right!

    I guess not, I’m still here! And hope to be for many more year to come.

  31. Tyson

    Sad to learn of the loss of Mr Jones, my 3 sisters and I met him in 2009 when our mum was nominated for a Deadly but sadly passed before the awards night. Us 4 flew from Roebourne in the Pilbara all the way to Sydney to receive onstage an Honourary Deadly Award which recognized her 40years in Health. We met him at that time and he was very welcoming and took the time to yarn with us. We very much appreciate him and the Vibe team for doing that for our mum.
    47 is too young to be leaving us, it was nice to know him.

  32. Justin Noel

    There are not many people who can leave such an indelible mark on so many people in so many places – Gav was and remains one of those rare and beautiful individuals whom we are privileged to know. He was blessed with energy, vision, commitment, passion, joy, generosity, empathy and above all love.
    He redefined the meaning of being Aboriginal within both the Australian and International contexts for an entire generation through his myriad ventures, concepts and events. Gav truly portrayed his desire for a positive and hopeful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in every possible avenue and with the gusto and verve (not to mention style) that only he could muster.
    I can still see Gav’s face when the original funding for Deadly Sounds was secured and, if anyone needed a reminder of how much of a unique trailblazer he was consider this image from 20 years ago … in one commercial radio booth sat a certain “voice of Australia” behind his trademark gold microphone, exhibiting a somewhat bewildered and uncomprehending stare, as Gavin and Rhoda recorded Deadly Sounds in the very next studio. The irony was not lost on anyone and it encapsulated Gav’s belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can do ANYTHING!
    There is a real sense of bewilderment at his loss, a hurt, a pain that is the marker of someone who is genuinely transformative. We will all miss you brother. Dream on…

  33. Katie Puttock

    An absolute pleasure to work with, but more than that, a pleasure to be around. His vibe was energetic and contagious and echoing the words of many others already, he always had 110% to give. I am shocked and saddened to hear of his loss, a life far too short. May your rest in peace Gavin, and catch up for that drink at our next meeting place. X

  34. Reconciliation Australia

    The team at Reconciliation Australia are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend Gavin Jones.

    Gavin was a dedicated reconciliation advocate and a close friend of Reconciliation Australia. We had the pleasure of working with him, and with the Deadly Vibe team, for many years to advance reconciliation in Australia.

    He was passionate about providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to share and celebrate their success. Through Deadly Vibe, the Deadly Awards, Move It Mob Style and the many other activities and ventures he created, Gav enabled Indigenous people to show just how deadly they are. And always with a style and flair that buoyed your soul and instantly told you this was a Gavin Jones production.

    While he will be terribly missed, Gav leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of positivity, cultural pride and service to his community. His pioneering work for reconciliation and promoting positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement is an inspiration to all Australians and we will honour his memory by continuing to tell these stories that empower young Indigenous people and leave us all feeling proud.

    We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and everyone at Deadly Vibe at this incredibly sad time.

  35. Rob Goodyear

    A fantastic Australian, neighbor and friend. Thank you for who you were. You were larger than life. We have all – black and white- lost a great Australian.

  36. Alison

    I had the happy opportunity to work with Gavin around some suicide prevention work funded through my former Department. I was always taken by Gavin’s passion, driving force and creativity. A truly great loss for the VIBE family and the mental health/suicide prevention sector more generally. Thoughts are with all concerned.



  37. Simone Spencer

    The Vibe 3 on 3 that came to mildura every year was something our young people looked forward to. I remember Gavin as a very hard working passionate and funny man! Although he was in the background organising the days events he would still make an effort to yarn to the kids and have a laugh. Can’t believe your gone…. Rest In Paradise [~○~]

    Simone Spencer xx

  38. Maev

    I did not know this young man….I am a non indigenous Australian…but I sure as heck knew of his work…..especially the Deadlys…..loved watching it on SBS each year…..way too young to have left this world….I hope someone finds a way of keeping things going….to honour his memory.

  39. Tony Magnusson

    It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with Gavin as part of his Vibe/GJC team. The days were sometimes long but they were always filled with laughter (who among us will ever be able to forget Gav’s laugh?) and the sense that we were doing something that actually counted.
    Gavin used to say: “Just Us Kids!” He was the most pragmatic, can-do, positive-thinking person I ever met. His big, beautiful grin, the enveloping hug he’d give you when he saw you, the twinkle in his eye when he had mischief on his mind – who among us could ever forget those qualities?
    Gavin was a born leader and a true visionary. He saw possibilities and opportunities the rest of us could only guess at. His optimism, fearlessness and courage were necessary attributes when it came to wrestling with the powers that be for greater support for Indigenous Australians.
    From little things, big things – extraordinary things – grew, and they wouldn’t have if not for Gavin’s relentless drive and determination.
    Gav was a mentor and a role model; a big picture guy who could also drill down into the details; he was the one you wanted to sit next to at a dinner party; the one you’d gravitate towards almost instinctively at a function.
    He was funny, witty, warm, compassionate, generous to a fault – and sentimental. His heart was huge.
    We’ve lost one of the really, really good ones. And that’s a tragedy.
    Tony Magnusson

  40. Jake

    People of the ilk of a Gavin Jones come along very rarely in this life. People who make our lives better, our world better, purely through the largesse of their love, compassion, warmth and kindness, their burning and endless passion that pushes and reshapes the limits of what we once thought was possible, or once consigned ourselves to believe. It takes a truly special soul to change the way we view ourselves, and the world around us. I was blessed to have met a man like Gavin Jones, to have him in my life, as a mentor, a brother and most importantly, as a dear friend.

    What has happened to this wonderful man is a crime against the beauty of the human soul, and the capabilities and potential we all possess, as one great family of people.

    What Gavin built and achieved, his vision – those intangible qualities that exist within the hearts of people, the potential in all of us to care for each other, to help someone who is struggling or less fortunate, purely because something inside pushes you to do so, and speaks to you when you feel intuitively, in your heart, that something is not right – these are the verities, the higher truths that truly matter, and this is the realm in which the spirit of Gavin Jones lived, and will continue to live.

    After 20 years of tireless work to bring joy, pride, confidence and self-worth to the lives of his people, improving the lives of so many, contributing to his nation in immeasurable ways – the actions of the Federal Government can be viewed as nothing more than an attack on the potential for Aboriginal empowerment in this country.

    A man who gave so much, deserved far more. Rest in peace my brother. I look forward to the day I see your smiling face again, and until then, we will carry your spirit and your vision into the future.

  41. Wendy Martin

    Gavin made a difference. Dreaming big and making things that matter happen. Everything he did was driven by his generosity of spirit, his sense of fun, his passionate commitment to what he believed in, and love. It was such a pleasure to be in his orbit and to see how he inspired others to endeavour to achieve his goals along the way creating a sense of community, a sense of family. A gorgeous, gorgeous man who will be greatly missed.

  42. National Congress of Australia's First Peoples

    Vale Gavin Jones (1966 – 2014)

    It is with great sadness that the Board and staff of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples mark the passing at the weekend of Gavin Jones. We pay our respects and offer condolences to the Jones, de Vries and Pavlakis family.
    Gavin Jones worked tirelessly to build and celebrate pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ cultures and achievements. The positive promotion of these by Gavin has had an immense and lasting impact on our community, and changed Australia for the better. His legacy will live on.
    Gavin was a towering inspiration to all who knew him. His passion in life and work was the advancement of our Peoples, which makes his passing all the more sorrowful. All of us at Congress will mourn his loss with the wider community.
    We acknowledge the deep sadness felt by his family and community and wish them all strength in the days ahead.

  43. Emelda Davis

    In memory of Gavin Jones…. Saddened by this news. Gavins innovation, relentless dedication and inclusive approach to community development is something that stuck with me from the time I met him. A true and humble inspirational man. Your ongoing legacy for change through empowerment is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing your gift. Condolences to the family and those who loved, worked and adored him. Much love to the community at this sad sad time. Emelda

  44. Suzie Cubillo

    GJ – What more can I say that hasn’t already been said – My friend, we will never forget. Thank you for allowing me into the Vibe family and I am forever grateful for all that you did for this naïve young kid from Darwin. Thank you for the memories and I am proud to have known you. Big love to Vicki and the rest of the family. God bless and peace perfect peace my friend xxx

  45. Shavaun Chapman

    We have lost a champion to the dark side. Gavin did what many people talk about doing and supported us mob to be bigger and better and look at the amazing things we do as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Your legacy will always live on and what you achieved will never be forgotten.

  46. Tim Laurence

    Gavin was the epitome of joy and optimism. To be with him was to experience belief in the impossible, unpatrolled positivity and enthusiasm. I have only ever had one friend like Gavin; there will be no other like him.

  47. Royce Buchanan

    Gavin, you were such an inspiration to work with and beside in bringing such important messages to our community . Your passing comes as such a shock and is incredibly saddening . Much love to your extended family at this time.

  48. NITV

    NITV are deeply sorry to hear the news about our dear brother, friend and visionary Indigenous leader, Gavin Jones. Gavin’s endless dedication for over two decades paved the way to many successes – he epitomised the words ‘Deadly Vibe’, driving Indigenous entertainment forward, whilst providing a sense of empowerment and opportunity for our youth. Gavin was a cherished friend to NITV, giving so much to so many whenever we needed him. His passing is a great loss to both our community and Indigenous Australia – we send our deepest sympathies to Gavin’s family and friends at this sad time.

  49. Rowena Alexander (Lupton)

    I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Gavin on Vibe 3 on 3 in my community some years ago and was truly inspired by him. His vision for Aboriginal media will continue I’m sure. My heart goes out to his family including the wider Vibe 3 on 3 family and pray that one of Australia’s great leaders is resting in peace.

  50. Richard Micallef

    Gavin at the right time you saw the real need and did the right things with all the wonderful indigenous stories and music you presented all with love
    You did the best job and built a beautiful organisation which fills indigenous arms with hope and pride.
    So sad I’m so sorry My deepest sympathy to your family and sister Vicki

  51. Dwayne Cross

    It has taken me from the SECOND I found out about Gavin’s passing til now to bring myself to even try to express my feelings for him, and with an enormous amount of tears in my eyes I still struggle to write anything here because there are NO WORDS truly NO WORDS that can convey the LOVE RESPECT ADMIRATION that I have for him and I say have because that will ALWAYS be what he has done for the Aboriginal community is unmatched. I had the pleasure of working for and with Gavin form the inception of the National indigenous 3 on 3 Basketball and Hip Hop Challenge and was the MC for nearly 12 years I watched kids go from participants to community leaders bringing kids to the event 10 years later FULL CIRCLE. Unfortunately a person sitting behind a desk looking at spreadsheet doesn’t see that I am from Chicago and where I come from family is EVERYTHING and Gavin cared about all of his people like FAMILY sometimes tough but ALWAYS ALWAYS FAIR and that’s how family is. I was also at the very first Deadly Awards at The Metro Theatre in the city of Sydney again some guy sitting looking at a spreadsheet and trying to find an extra buck so his boss can mention in his next BORING speech the savings their making in the budget wouldn’t have a clue that it started at The Metro and 19 years later was televised on SBS from the Opera House.

    I know and realise this is rather long however the time I’ve spent with Gavin and the team from DAY 1 has been nothing short of amazing and what the Vibe team has done over the years under Gavin’s guidance for the Australian community both indigenous and non will be missed and should NEVER be forgotten.

    Lastly being from the US things like this don’t go away quietly what has been done to Gavin is completely UNFORGIVEABLE and when I say this I mean I know there are number of people whom Gavin has supported, I know and you know who you are, and as comfortable as you may be in your current position you need to stand up and make sure his legacy and program’s and commitment LIFE commitment lives on I don’t care what people think or say about me the Deadly’s MUST HAPPEN and anyone who has been touched by GAVIN JONES knows what I am saying, again I say the bureaucrats that sit and probably spend more in 3 or 4 months of corporate meals up there in Canberra than Gavin’s budget requirements have no idea of the National Impact of their decision many of you laughed and smiled the infectious Gavin Jones now it’s time to STAND UP for what you know is right can we all just ask some questions I think we deserve the answer Gavin was not able to get if we all ask something has to be said and I am curious to know because I just can’t understand what the logic was in that decision I love Gavin too much not to hear why they chose to devistate such a true pioneer and community Icon

    My love always to Gavin Vickie Tony and the entire Vibe Team
    God Bless
    Dwayne Cross VIBE FOREVER!!!

  52. Healing Foundation

    The Healing Foundation expresses its immense sadness at the passing of Gavin Jones. Gavin was a powerful force, dedicated to positively and truthfully representing the history, images and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    Gavin had an intrinsic understanding of healing. He and his team worked with us over a number of years to celebrate members of the Stolen Generations, through our Apology concerts and the Lifetime Contribution to Healing the Stolen Generations Deadly Award. Gavin’s love for and connection to community, his professionalism, his respect and humour helped us to make our work more valuable.

    Our hearts go out to Gavin’s family and friends.

  53. Ed

    I had the good fortune to work on Deadly Vibe and InVibe for a couple of years and was impressed by Gavin’s vision and the great stories that vision brought together for so many people to see. Only the other day my kids started watching Move It Mob Style and imitating some of the dance moves and I thought what a force for good Gavin and the Deadly Vibe group was sending through the world. It’s a huge tragedy. My deepest sympathy to his family and to the Deadly Vibe team.

  54. Ursula Stephens

    Rest in Peace, Gavin. You shone a bright light in the darkness that has been appreciated around the world. You inspired so many, mentored and supported so much talent, wrote so many important stories were a wonderful friend, activist, supporter and inspiration – and you left a gentle footprint here on earth. We hope we’re all here to make a difference – yours was very special. My thoughts and prayers to all your colleagues, workmates, friends and family – we will miss you terribly.

  55. Jo Brown

    Was saddened to hear the news of the passing of Gavin Jones…Was a privilege working with the Vibe team on a number of projects, thank you for this fantastic opportunity I learned so much mostly about how great it was working as part of your team and being guided by your vision and professionalism, it amazed me to see how everybody at Vibe were committed in achieving and realising your dreams and passion via the number of your signature events such as the Deadlys, Vibe Magazine, Deadly Sounds and the Vibe 3 on 3’s etc etc… were much more than these…
    You were generous in all that you did and gave selflessly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and particularly your staff. I can only imagine the sadness and heartbreak you are all feeling….you have left an amazing legacy…. we are all better people…

  56. Miah

    You were such a significant person in my life and I will be forever greatful for the memories and lessons u taught me! You were a creative genius that brought something special to us all! What you did for our community will forever live on! Working with you were some of the best days of my life, you had such passion and beliefe in everything we did and installed that in everyone you came across! You are the most generous man I have ever met and took us all under your wing! I will forever be greatful and promise to make sure your legacy and light remains in whatever I do! You were a friend, mentor, father figure and hero to me. I wish I got to tell you this more often! Thank you for letting me be apart of your world. Love always Maude xxoo


    On behalf of the Workforce Support Unit within the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, and the Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce across Queensland, we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Gavin’s family and staff of Deadly Vibe, as you gather to support each other, on this journey of sorrow.

    Gavin’s passion and professionalism of the highest standards has shone through at managing two successful National SEWB Conferences over the last couple of years. His style of leadership was inspiring to staff and delegate alike. His vision set in place a suite of products and services under the Deadly Vibe brand, which has over time set an indelible footprint across Indigenous Australia and has shaped how our people wish to tell their story.

    We honour you! RIP Gavin Jones.

  58. Liz Deep-Jones

    I’m so saddened and shocked by the loss of the incredibly talented and vivacious Gavin Jones. His passion and commitment to make a difference to the lives of Indigenous Australians through all of his Deadly programs were second to none. When we worked together on the Deadly Awards each year he’d strive to make it bigger, brighter, glitzier and better than anything other event on the globe. He was so driven to ensure Indigenous Australians were treated to the best of the best and expect the best of the best. He wanted nothing more than to make a difference and instill positive attitudes and outcomes and for his people. Yes, he was a great leader who treated all around him like family and you couldn’t help but be swept up by his passion and zest for life. It’s so shocking to think that he is no longer with us. A shining star that’s gone too early. My thoughts go out to his partner and family. I hope we can continue Gavin’s legacy and the Deadlys will once again shine in his memory. RIP

  59. Aden Ridgeway

    There are those who walk amongst us silently, never seeking any accolade or award but we are touched by their presence. Vale to my brother, a hero in our midst, a visionary and humanist seeking but one thing, to make the world a better place and celebrate our successes – we have lost something more important than we care to notice or even understand .. a true leader, visionary and most importantly a friend .. I shall remember fondly those long afternoon lunches back in the early days of Darlinghurst .. cheers my friend you are truly my hero!!!

  60. Vanessa O'Brien

    Gav was on fire, even before the vibe. IT WAS HIS VIBE. HIS VISION.

    I co-piloted the Government’s youth marketing campaign with him in 1991-1992, before his move to Darlinghurst. Gavin always rocked it, even then. As a public servant, I’ll never forget him launching government messages for indigenous people, during half time, at the AFL grand final. Gavin was big, bold, and creative; not limited by the closed mentality of those around him. Gav created his own stage, and no stage, was big enough.

    Please people. Don’t let this class act be in vain. The Government needs to find money NOW. If not, Government, then corporates. Please, give generously… contact Vibe Australia, with your pledges of donations. Get the Deadly Awards back on, in Gavin’s honour. Gav deserves his own award.

    So sad, that this would be post humously. Mr Gavolina, you lit up the world; for white fellas also. RIP my dear friend.. it hurts to know that you are gone, VANESSA O’BRIEN.

  61. Jenni Davies

    Gavin a brilliant caring man, An inspiration. We met and worked together for a short time 20 years ago my memories of you to this day are strong. Such a sad loss

  62. admin

    I only knew Gavin for a short while, but am so thankful I met him. You couldn’t help but be captivated by his enthusiasm, dedication, flair and wit. I’ll miss our quarterly meetings up at the Goulburn office, where we had such great plans and the great times had at lunches or dinners afterwards. You were one of the best Gav, it’s a tragedy you are gone.

  63. Tricia Fitzgerald

    Gavin’s passion was infectious – he had the vision and the skills to make the vision a reality. Always the gentle man. So sad you did not get the support you needed and deserved.

  64. Deb Keeley

    Gavin’s vision reached across Australia and caught us all in his embrace. Our thoughts are with Gav’s beloved family and the Vibe team – he was so proud of all you achieved together.

  65. Sarah Bartho

    I went to college in Canberra with Gav and then hung out together in Sydney for many years afterwards. I haven’t seen him for 12 years but thoughts of him frequently crossed my mind, warmed my heart. He was a dear friend and once upon a time, an angel in my life. Thank you, Gav, for holding my hand when I needed it, making me laugh so often – just the thought of you makes me smile, although right now it’s making me cry. How I wish I could hug you one more time & thank you for being the finest of people. My Dad is up there somewhere and he always adored you too, so look out for him. Love Sare x

  66. Steff Callaghan

    What a loss.
    We will all miss you Gavin as well as your dedicated work to in Aboriginal culture, creation of significant programs and recognition of Indigenous talent.
    It is disgusting that it was Government funding cuts that set up the particular events that took you from us as well as their lack of appreciation, acknowledgement and recognition of your achievements. The government continuously sets up Aboriginal organisations to fail.
    Your commitment and drive for the cause will never be forgotten and your legacy lives on. We will miss you.

  67. Dr Mark Wenitong

    Deeply saddened by the loss of a brother who brought positivity to our lives and who showcased the excellence of our people. Myself and my family especially Joel and Naomi will greatly miss him RIP.

  68. Amanda James

    Have just spent today walking the backstreets of Bogota, Colombia after reading the news of Gav’s passing. Many years of words and pictures made together… From the very early days in our mid 20’s, working together he was always loud, motivated, strong, gracious, politically astute, fearless, generous, infectious, and far wiser than his years. To Georgia and all you Mob at GJC / Vibe, to Tony, to Vicki and family, to the ATSI community he injected energy and hope into, my thoughts are with you all. To my people and the rest of Australia….if you only knew. RIP Deadly fella, the pleasure was all mine.

  69. The Ella Family

    The Ella Family is devastated by Gavin’s passing. He was such a wonderful, passionate and inspirational person. We will forever be grateful for the creation of the Ella Lifetime Achievement in Sport Award at the Deadly’s (named in honour of our parents) but we are even more grateful for having had the opportunity to get to to know Gavin better through our association with the Deadly’s. He was an amazing achiever, yet humble, joyful and full of life and love. Our thoughts are with his and the Deadly Vibe families.