The awards have expanded beyond their original music focus, to include sport, entertainment, the arts, health, education and training in the Indigenous Australian community. Winners are nominated and voted on by the public. The word 'Deadly' is a modern colloquialism used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to indicate 'cool, rockin, fantastic'.
In June 2014, the Deadly awards funding was cut under Coalition budget measures designed to reallocate funding to indigenous education programs with 2014 Deadly funding phased back to $1 million and no funding provided for future years. Following this news Gavin Jones died, however it is not clear whether his death could be attributed in any way to the budget cuts.
On 14 July 2014, Vibe Australia announced that the 2014 Deadlys were cancelled and that all Vibe projects concluded on 30 June 2014. After a story was run on Triple J's Hack program on 15 July 2014, a groundswell of community support for saving the Deadly awards began. Currently a petition on Change.org has attracted approx. 26,000 signatures and a Kickstarter campaign has reached $4000.