Shellie Morris and her singers from the NT, Dr Tom Calma, & Jack Thompson & Luke Carroll on the red carpet.

Reconciliation Australia was once again proud to sponsor this year’s Deadly Awards which were held at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night.

Both the stars and punters frocked up for the spectacular night of entertainment—with personalities such as Samantha Harris, Nathan Foley, Karla Grant and hosts Aaron Pederson and Casey Donovan strutting their stuff on the red carpet. Our very own Co-Chair Dr Tom Calma even suited up for the big event!

But the Deadlys are more than just glitz and glamour. At the heart of the event is recognition. Recognising the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is such as important part of reconciliation.

Australia’s first peoples are a talented bunch—and the Deadlys are the perfect platform to showcase their achievements to the rest of the Australia.

Take radio presenter Karla Hart from Noongar Radio in WA who was one of five people nominated for Broadcaster of the Year. Not letting a broken leg get in the way of accepting her Deadly, Karla came all the way from Perth to graciously accept her award at the Sunset Ceremony with her son by her side.

For the Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment, Brian Dowd dedicated his award to the 4,000 or so young people that completed his ‘Black on Track’ program; while Anita Heiss made an emotional speech as she accepted her Deadly for Outstanding Achievement in Literature.

Humble in his acceptance speech was host Aaron Pederson who took home the award for Male Actor of the Year and much to the delight of the audience Jessica Mauboy rushed from a music video shoot to the Deadlys – good thing, as she won Female Artist of the Year!

But the best was certainly saved for last. For her remarkable achievements in sport Reconcilation Australia Patron Evonne Goolagong-Cawley was awarded the Ella Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sport.

As a young girl, Evonne would hit tennis balls against a brick wall with a tennis racquet made from an old broom handle. She literally dreamt of playing on the ‘magical’ centre court at Wimbledon and at the tender age of 16 achieved that dream, before taking home the prestigious title at just 20 years of age. Evonne then went on to win 14 grand slam titles—truly an inspiration and deserving Deadly winner!

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners and a huge shout out to all the Deadly staff for making the 2011 Deadly Awards the best year yet!