Dr Tom Calma AO was appointed the inaugural National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking on 16 February 2010. Immediately prior to the appointment he was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for five and a half years.
Dr Calma was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia; Officer of the General Division (AO) in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday honours list 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 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, respectively. He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, territory, national and international level and worked in the public sector for 40 years.
Dr Calma has broad experience in public administration, particularly in Indigenous education programs and in developing employment and training programs for Indigenous people from both a national policy and program perspective.
From 1995-2002, he worked as a senior Australian diplomat in India and Vietnam representing Australia’s interests in education and training. During his time in India, he also oversaw the management of the Australian Education International offices in Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Dr Calma has been actively involved in the formation of the Close The Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. He delivered the 2009 Mabo Oration; has continued to advocate for members of the Stolen Generations; and delivered the formal response in Parliament House on their behalf to the Prime Minister’s National Apology.
Tom Calma also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 12 July 2004 until 12 July 2009. In this role he convened three Australia/ New Zealand Race Relations Roundtables and launched significant papers including the ‘Voices’ publication as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations for the Racial Discrimination Act in 2005. Over the past six years he has addressed many conferences, community and religious groups about Indigenous, multicultural, discrimination and social inclusion issues.
Tom Calma has been a White Ribbon Day Ambassador since 2005. White Ribbon Day is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In addition to being the Patron of the Rural Health Education Foundation, Dr Calma is also the National Patron of the Wakakirri National Story Festival (since 2006), National Patron of the Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network and Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation.
In 2007 Dr Calma was named by Bulletin Magazine as the Most Influential Indigenous Person in Australia and in 2008 he received an award from GQ Magazine after being named GQ Magazine’s 2008 Man of Inspiration for his work in Indigenous Affairs.
In May 2010 Dr Calma received an honorary doctorate (Honoris Causa) from Charles Darwin University, in recognition of his outstanding commitment and contribution to the advancement of Indigenous and multicultural Australia, primarily in the areas of education, employment and training programs for Indigenous and remote communities. Dr Calma in 2010 was named by Australian Doctor Magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential People in medicine in Australia and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Curtin University in 2011 in recognition of his work, advocacy and leadership in Indigenous health reform and Indigenous affairs.
In November 2012 Dr Calma was awarded ACT Australian of the Year 2013 for his work as an inspirational advocate for human rights and social justice having dedicated his life to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.
In June 2010 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Reconciliation Australia and is currently Co-chair. He is an Ambassador of Suicide Prevention Australia, Deputy Chancellor of the University of Canberra, a member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board and on national and local committees focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention and mental health, justice reinvestment, tertiary education and health prevention.
Kungarakan (pronounced – c oong r u cun) & Iwaidja (pronounced – ee wad ja)