Professor Tom Calma AO, an Aboriginal Elder of the Kungarakan people and member of the Iwaidja people, has been named as the Senior Australian of The Year for 2023. He is currently the Chancellor of the University of Canberra, a Professor at the University of Sydney and the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking.
He was awarded the Senior Australian of The Year for 2023 having spent his life and career dedicated to advocacy work.
For over 40 years, Professor Calma has been a champion for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
- He was instrumental in establishing the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
- He co-chaired Reconciliation Australia for over a decade.
- He co-led the co-design of the Voice to Parliament initiative.
- He launched the Stop The Gap campaign aimed at improving the health and life expectancy of Australia’s Indigenous people.
National Seniors Australia warmly expresses congratulations to Professor Tom Calma AO on being named Senior Australian of The Year.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke was effusive in his praise, stating that “I had the pleasure of being on a panel on the ABC show The Drum with Professor Tom Calma in August 2019 in a special episode discussing the role of lobbyists in the Australian political system – I found his views insightful and think he’s a wonderful choice.”
The Australian of The Year awards are administered by the National Australia Day Council and were first awarded to an Australian citizen back in 1960. Over the years the award was given greater diversification with award categories introduced. These days in addition to the primary Australian of The Year award, there are awards for the Young Australian, Senior Australian, and Local Hero.
The very first Senior Australian of The Year was awarded to country music star Slim Dusty in October 1999. This first award was timed to coincide with the United Nations declaring 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons and was initially managed by the Department of Health and Ageing. It was later arranged for the National Australia Day Council to take over administering the award, moving to January to align with the other awards. Professor Calma AO takes over from 2022’s Senior Australian of The Year Val Dempsey, a life-long volunteer with St John Ambulance.
- 2023 Senior Australian of The Year – Professor Tom Calma
- ACT Senior of The Year – Professor Tom Calma
- NSW Senior of The Year – Teresa Plane
- NT Senior of The Year – Bernard Tipiloura
- QLD Senior of The Year – Claude Lyle Harvey OAM
- SA Senior of The Year – Sandra Miller
- TAS Senior of The Year – Dr Frances Donaldson
- VIC Senior of The Year – Professor Frank Oberklaid AM
- WA Senior of The Year – Theresa Kwok