31 May 2017: University of Canberra Chancellor Professor Tom Calma AO has been named an Australia Post Australian Legend with his image immortalised on a postage stamp.
Three exceptional Indigenous leaders have been recognised with the Australia Post Australian Legends Award.
Professor Calma, Lowitja O’Donoghue and Galarrwuy Yunipingu have been chosen for the Australia Post Legends 2017: ‘Indigenous leaders’ series to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.
The award is traditionally announced on Australia Day but this year was presented in May out of respect for those who associate 26 January with the colonisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The timing also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo High Court decision.
The Australia Post Legends series recognises individuals who have shaped Australian society and identity in a variety of positive ways.
Professor Calma, an elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and member of the Iwaidja tribal group, was chosen for his tireless work in championing the rights, responsibilities and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for more than 40 years.
The 2013 Australian of the Year was active in forming the Close the Gap campaign, and delivered the formal response on behalf of Aboriginal people to the government’s National Apology to the Stolen Generation. He is co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and a director of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC), the board of which he joined in 2009 and chaired from 2011 to 2014.
Professor Calma said it was important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians to work together.
“It’s all about achieving equality and opportunity and so there’s still a big gap before we can say that yes, we are on par in education and health in terms of employment and outcomes. They’re the three big indicators and we’ve got to get them right if we’re going to see us thrive as a society,” Professor Calma told Australia Post.
“We just need to address some of the real big challenges like the Close the Gap targets, but to do those targets in conjunction with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to be able to as a society, as a nation, walk together.”
Professor Calma has been a member of the University Council since October 2008 and was appointed Deputy Chancellor in 2012.
He was appointed Chancellor of the University of Canberra in 2014, making him the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander man to become Chancellor of an Australian university. He was reappointed for a second term in January which will see him continue in his role for another three years.
The stamp, which features a photo taken by the University’s Communications Officer Kim Pham, is available online and at participating Post Offices.