Tom Calma AO is an Aboriginal Elder of the Kungarakan tribal group, a member of the Iwaidja tribal group and a tireless champion for the rights, responsibilities and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. He is co-chair of Reconciliation Australia.

Dr Calma became Chancellor of the University of Canberra on 1 January 2014, having been Vice-Chancellor from 1 January 2012.

Tom 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. 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.

He 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.

Dr 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 Centre for Indigenous Health Network and Deputy Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation. He served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010, and as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009. Dr Calma was appointed the inaugural National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing) in March 2010 to lead the fight against tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Dr Calma received honorary doctorates from Charles Darwin University in 2010 and Curtin University in 2011. In June 2010, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Reconciliation Australia. In 2011 he became that Board's Co-Chair.

Over the past 38 years, Dr Calma has addressed many conferences and community and religious groups about Indigenous, multicultural, discrimination and social inclusion issues. He was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in June 2012 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.


  • –present
    Chancellor, MDBfutures