Adjunct Associate Professor Tom Calma AO

Adjunct scholar

E Tom.Calma@health.gov.au

Introduction

Dr Tom Calma was appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor at NCIS in May 2012. He brings extensive experience to NCIS, particularly in Indigenous education and human rights in which he has been involved at the local, community, state, territory, national and international level for the past 38 years. Dr Calma is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia, respectively.

Biography

Dr Calma has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level and worked in the public sector for 40 years and is currently on a number of boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, education, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation and economic development. These include the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network, The Charles Perkins Trust, Ninti-One Ltd/Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, NSW Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Campaign, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health, and Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples (RECOGNISE).

Dr Calma is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia.

Dr Calma was appointed National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking in March 2010 to lead the fight against tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Dr Calma was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010. He also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

Through his 2005 Social Justice Report, Dr Calma called for the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation and advocated embedding a social determinants philosophy into public policy around health, education and employment in order to address Indigenous inequality gaps. This spearheaded the Close the Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign.

Dr Calma chaired the Close the Gap Steering Committee for Indigenous Health Equality since its inception in March 2006 and retired as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee in 2010. The Close the Gap Campaign has effectively brought national attention to achieving health equality for Indigenous people by 2030.

Dr Calma is a strong advocate for Indigenous rights and empowerment, and in addition to the Close the Gap Campaign, has been instrumental in establishment of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, development of the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, and promotion of Justice Reinvestment.

Dr Calma is engaged as an expert consultant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (UWA); is a Chief Investigator on the ARC Project 'Reducing Incarceration using Justice Reinvestment: A Case Study' (ANU); is a member of the Review Panel of the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research of the University of South Australia; and is a member of the Indigenous Research Ethics Guidelines Review Working Committee of the National Health & Medical Research Council.

Dr Calma served as Senior Adviser to the Minister of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in 2003, and represented Australia's education and training interests as a senior diplomat in India and Vietnam from 1995 to 2002.

In 2007, Dr Calma was named by Bulletin Magazine as the Most Influential Indigenous Person in Australia; in 2008 he was named GQ Magazine's 2008 Man of Inspiration for his work in Indigenous Affairs.

On 20 May 2010, Dr Calma was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from Charles Darwin University in recognition of decades of public service, particularly in relation to his work in education, training and employment in Indigenous communities.

Dr Calma was named by Australian Doctor Magazine (2010) as One of the 50 Most Influential People in Medicine in Australia.

On 15 February 2011, Dr Calma was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Curtin University in recognition of his work, advocacy and leadership in Indigenous health reform and Indigenous affairs.

In the Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours Awards, Dr Calma was awarded an Order of Australia; Officer of the General Division (AO) for distinguished service to the Indigenous community as an advocate for human rights and social justice, through contributions to government policy and reform, and to cross cultural understanding.

Dr Calma was the 2013 ACT Australian of the Year in recognition of his work as an inspirational advocate for human rights and social justice having dedicated his life to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

On 1 January 2014, Dr Calma became the 6th Chancellor of the University of Canberra and the first Indigenous male Chancellor of an Australian university.

On 16 April 2014, Dr Calma was awarded an honorary Doctor of the University from Flinders University in recognition of his work, advocacy and leadership in Indigenous health reform.

In November 2014, Dr Calma was awarded the Indigenous Allied Health Australia Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

Scholarly interests

Dr Calma has extensive interest in Indigenous studies research, with particular focus on health, education and economic development.

Updated:  1 May 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer