Ron McCallum has been blind since he was a baby. At school he was a good student. He went to university to study law. His friends would read law books to him. His wife Mary also helped him. After his studies he began to teach law. Since then he has achieved a lot in his life. He was the Dean of Law at the University of Sydney. He believes in the rights of people with disabilities. In 2006 the Australian government awarded him with the Order of Australia. In 2011 he was named Senior Australian of the Year.
Posted by: Isabella Fels, on 04/06/12
Professor Ron McCallum AO
Professor Ron McCallum AO is a highly respected law professional with a great passion in labour law. Even though he has now retired as a professor and Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, he is still active on many different projects.
He is busy reviewing the Fair Work Act for the Australian government, is an emeritus professor, chairs the United Nations committee fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and is a deputy chair for Vision Australia.
Ron has been blind practically since birth. However this never deterred him from greatly wanting to learn and succeed. As he puts it he
doesn't know any other way.
Born in 1948 and raised in Melbourne, he started off his schooling at The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind before going to St. Pauls School for the Blind. He did so remarkably well and showed such great promise that he finished high school at a mainstream school in Mentone.
From a young age Ron managed very well and walked around with only a cane. He recounts his scariest moment at the age of 12 when he fell off a pier and into a river. He was very quickly rescued and soon picked himself up again. In many ways he was and is a fighter.
Law and family
A big influence in his life was his mother, who strongly encouraged him to study law instead of his first love history. In his early days of studying law at university Ron realised
the law was finally making sense as well as his life making sense.
His ability to study law came with the help of many people who read books and lectures to him. It also came with the unlimited support of his wife Mary Crock who is also a Professor of Law. They married when Ron was 37 and have three children. Today Mary lectures with Ron.
Ron went on to an impressive law career. He was the first blind person to be appointed to a full professorship and to become a Dean of Law at any university in Australia.
Ron says he worked very hard and for many long hours to get to where he is today. He is a frequent user of Job Access with Speech (JAWS), which is a computer program that uses synthetic speech to read out material from the computer screen. Ron greatly relies on this computer program for his work.
Ron believes in giving people with a vision impairment work opportunities, as well as keeping them connected to the community. He reaches out to people with vision impairment through radio where he talks about his own experiences. He was chair of the radio station 2RPH from 2003 to 2011, which reads newspapers and magazines to its listeners.
In 2006 Ron became a strong opponent to John Howard's Work Choices legislation. Ron felt for the plight of the vulnerable and working poor. He believed the legislation put all the power in the hands of employers and large corporations and denied workers penalty payments and exposed them to unfair dismissals. He described the legislation as
draconian and built on
In 2006 Ron received an Order of Australia. This was in part for his work in advising the Labor government on industrial relations, his services to tertiary education and his advocacy work for social justice and for people with a vision impairment.
In 2008, he started his role with the United Nations. In 2011 he was awarded the Senior Australian of the year. However, despite his great success Ron remains grounded. He sees his biggest professional achievement as a being a law teacher, a role he has had for over 40 years. And he says, just like his students, he continues to learn too.
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