Professor Tom Calma AO 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.
He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level and worked in the public sector for over 40 years and is currently on a number of boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, mental health, suicide prevention, education, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation and economic development.
These include the Reconciliation Australia; Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation; Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network; The Charles Perkins Trust; Ninti-One Ltd; 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 the Healing Our Spirits Worldwide – The Eighth Gathering and a number of public and education sector committees. He is an Ambassador for Suicide Prevention Australia. Read More
Prof 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.
Prof Calma was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 to 2010 and Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009 at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Through his 2005 Social Justice Report, Prof 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 that effectively brought national attention to achieving health equality for Indigenous people by 2030.
Prof Calma chaired the advisory group that developed the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, is a SPA Ambassador and co-chairs with Prof Pat Dudgeon the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group to the Commonwealth government and is an expert advisor to the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention management.
In November 2014 Prof Calma was awarded the Indigenous Allied Health Australia Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians and in September 2017 was appointed the inaugural Patron of Indigenous Allied Health Australia. Prof Calma was appointed a Professor at the University of Sydney Medical School from 1 January 2015 to perform the role of Chair and Patron of the Poche Indigenous Health Network.