Professor 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 Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory, respectively.
His APS career spanned 38 years retiring in 2010. Other roles have included: senior Australian diplomat in India and Vietnam from 1995 to 2002 representing Australia's education and training interests, Senior Adviser to the Minister of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in 2003, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010, Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.
He is now a consultant to Commonwealth Health, undertaking the role of National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, and a Professor at the University of Sydney Medical School performing the role of Chair and Patron of the Poche Indigenous Health Network.
His Social Justice Report was instrumental in the Close the Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign resulting in COAG’s Closing the Gap response in December 2007.
Prof Calma was the 2013 ACT Australian of the Year and on 1 January 2014 became the 6th Chancellor of the University of Canberra and the first Indigenous male Chancellor of an Australian university.