“The progress being made is heartening and exciting because it will have a lasting impact, taking us several great strides towards a healthier future”.
Professor Calma has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, territory, national and international level and worked in the public sector for 38 years.
Respected for his inspirational and inclusive advocacy for human rights and social justice, Professor Calma has dedicated his life to improving the lives of all Australians and particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. For the past four decades he has championed the importance of empowerment – a passion that runs through his work in education, training, employment, health, justice reinvestment and development.
Professor Calma was formerly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner and served as a senior Australian diplomat in India and Vietnam. He works to create opportunities for Indigenous voices to be heard and to build partnerships to improve their health, well-being and economic independence.
His landmark 2005 report calling for the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation laid the groundwork for the Close the Gap campaign and COAG’s Closing the Gap response.
Professor Calma works to advance Australia as an inclusive society including many roles in the community relating to social inclusion, reconciliation, mental health and higher education. He is an Aboriginal elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and Chancellor of the University of Canberra.