Professor Tom Calma AO

Professor Tom Calma AO is an Elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group. He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level for 45 years.

From 1995-2002, Tom served as a senior Australian diplomat in India and Vietnam. He served as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004-2010; and as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004-2009, both roles within the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Tom has a special interest in Indigenous health, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, suicide prevention, social determinants theory and empowerment programs. He is an international public speaker, as well as being at the forefront of research and research-translation into government policy, in these areas. In particular, Tom led the Close the Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign (2006 on) and has held the role of National Coordinator Tackling Indigenous Smoking since 2010. He chaired the ministerial committee that developed the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2013 and is currently Chair and Patron of the Poche Indigenous Health Network and a Chair and/or member of a number of other boards and committees across Australia.

Appointed in 2014 as Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Professor Calma is the first Indigenous male chancellor of an Australian university. He is currently also Professor of Practice (Indigenous Engagement) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney.

In 2012, Tom was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (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 through his work in supporting cross cultural understanding. In 2013, Tom was named the ACT Australian of the Year for his service and commitment to the Indigenous community as an advocate for human rights and social justice and in January 2023 he was announced Senior Australian of the Year 2023 in recognition of his work in aged care and the Voice.

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