Oxfam congratulates Dr Tom Calma on being awarded ACT Australian of the Year

Campaigns and Advocacy, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News article written on the 22 Nov 2012

Oxfam has congratulated Dr Tom Calma, founder of the Close the Gap Campaign, on being awarded ACT Australian of the Year today.

Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Dr Tom Calma had worked tirelessly for more than four decades to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“Dr Calma has been at the forefront of inspiring Australians to support action to address disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in health, education, training, employment, justice reinvestment and development,” Mr Hewett said.

“It’s fantastic to see that work acknowledged by the election panel in the ACT.  Dr Calma will serve the ACT well as its Australian of the Year Recipient for 2013.”

As former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, his landmark 2005 Social Justice Report calling for a campaign to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within a generation laid the foundations for the establishment Close the Gap campaign.

“Oxfam has had the privilege of working closely with Dr Calma on the Close the Gap Campaign, which has raised awareness and harnessed unprecedented public support for action to close the health equality gap by 2030,” Mr Hewett said.

“One hundred and eighty thousand Australians have called for the gap to be closed, with 130,000 participating in this year’s National Close the Gap Day.”

The National Rugby League has expressed its support by dedicating a round of football each August to Close the Gap.

“It’s a testament to Tom that he was able to bring together all the national Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and human rights organisations to campaign on this issue,” Mr Hewett said.  “And it’s a movement that keeps growing.”

Oxfam Australia is a foundational member of the Close the Gap Campaign and has supported opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to exercise their rights to basic social services, sustainable livelihoods, a strong voice and cultural diversity, for more than 30 years. 

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