NACCHO congratulates:Tom Calma appointed University of Canberra chancellor

   Tom Calma

Greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should reach senior  leadership positions in Australian universities and be involved in leading  academic research, incoming University of Canberra chancellor Tom Calma said  this week.


The indigenous social justice and health campaigner and 2013 ACT Australian  of the Year was appointed on Friday to succeed  chancellor Dr John  Mackay  on  January 1, 2014.

Dr Calma said Canberra’s university sector remained concerned about the  impact of $2.8billion in federal government cuts to tertiary education and that  students could suffer because  of the decision.

‘‘It would be denying a fact if I said we were not worried or that the cuts  did not mean a challenge,’’ he said.

‘‘What we need to do is protect the teaching of students and make sure they  get the full quality of teaching that they deserve.

‘‘If we want to see Australia develop as a knowledge nation, then it is going  to develop out of the higher education institutions.’’

At the start of an eight-month leadership handover, Dr Calma said, the  University of Canberra was  considering how to appropriately deal with the  impact of new efficiency dividends of 2 per cent and 1.25 per cent in the coming  two years, announced this month by the Gillard government to save about  $900million.

The money will  fund the  Gonski school education reforms, along  with commitments from state governments.

An elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and now  the university’s deputy  chancellor, Dr Calma said he felt privileged to lead the University of Canberra  during a time of infrastructure development that will include  new health  and sports hubs. Involved in tertiary education since 1980, Dr Calma has served  as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

Commissioner and as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until  2009.

His 2005 Social Justice Report led to the creation of the Close the Gap  campaign, a collaboration of more than 40 health and human rights groups working  with indigenous Australians.

In March 2010, he was appointed national co-ordinator of the Tackling  Indigenous Smoking effort.

Dr Calma said indigenous university enrolment rates had increased in recent  years, with notable improvements at the University of Canberra.

‘‘Around the nation we are seeing a lot more indigenous people complete year  12, but they’ve got to also see university as an option,’’ he said.

‘‘One of the biggest challenges within the university sector is to get people  to do higher degrees, particularly in research, so they can become academics in  the future.’’

Dr Calma said he was proud to be one of a small number of indigenous  Australians in senior governance positions in higher education.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor  Stephen Parker said Dr Calma had  already made a significant contribution to the university.

‘‘Tom Calma has been an insightful and enthusiastic member of our governing  council since 2008,’’ Professor Parker said.

‘‘It is great for the university to have an Australian of Tom Calma’s stature  as chancellor, and I’m particularly proud that we have appointed one of the  nation’s first indigenous chancellors.’’

Read more:         



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *