Emeritus Professor Ronald Clive McCallum, AO (b. 8 October 1948) is an Australian legal academic. He is an expert in labour law, and has served as a Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Sydney. He is the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship in any subject at any university in Australia or New Zealand, as well as the first to become a Dean of Law in these countries. He chairs the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva.
Ron McCallum was born in Melbourne ten weeks premature and weighing only three pounds. He was diagnosed with retrolental fibroplasia. At the time, treating this required placing the baby in a humidicrib with uncontrolled oxygen; while this prevented McCallum from dying, it meant that he permanently lost his sight.
His father, Patrick McCallum, who had suffered from post-traumatic stress due to his participation in World War II, died during McCallum's childhood. He was thus raised by his mother, Edna McCallum, along with his two brothers in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton, in relatively poor conditions.
He attended schools for the blind, where it became apparent that he was intellectually gifted.
His last four years of schooling were spent at St Bede's College in Mentone. The only member of his family to finish Year 12, McCallum achieved outstanding results, and was accepted to study law at Monash University. Though he had originally planned to be a history teacher, he was encouraged by his mother to try law for a year. He studied via other students reading aloud to him or by listening to tapes.
While at university, McCallum studied labour law. He has said that, within the first few weeks of the course, "suddenly the law made sense and my life made sense". He graduated from Monash Law School with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1970, and a Bachelor of Laws in 1972. He later pursued graduate studies in Canada at the Queen's University Faculty of Law, earning his LL.M. in 1974.
Upon graduating, he went into academia, becoming a law lecturer at Monash. He became increasingly well known for his work on labour law, and has published 10 books on the topic, as well as numerous chapters, journal articles and papers. He was invited to teach at Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada and Duke University in the United States. While in North America, he was appointed to the National Academy of Arbitrators. In this role, he has participated in five worldwide comparative labour law studies which have been published in what is now titled the Comparative Labour Law and Policy Journal.
In January 1993, he was appointed the foundation Blake Dawson Waldron Professor of Industrial Law at Sydney University. Nine years later, he commenced a five-year term as Dean of Law. McCallum is the first totally blind person to be appointed by any university in Australasia to a full professorship in any field or as Dean of Law.
McCallum is the inaugural President of the Australian Labour Law Association, and the Asian regional Vice-President of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law. He has also done extensive work for the blind as the Chair of Radio for the Print Handicapped of New South Wales Co-operative Ltd, a company that operates radio 2RPH, which reads newspapers and magazines for blind and for other print handicapped listeners over the air. Since 2006, he has been a member of the Board of Vision Australia Pty Ltd. He has received a Centenary Medal for his work, and in 2006 was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
In 2008, McCallum was elected to the first Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations which monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In February 2009, he was appointed inaugural Rapporteur to the Convention and in October was elected Chair of the Committee. He was reelected to the Committee in 2010 and remains as Chair.
On 20 December 2011, McCallum was announced, along with Reserve Bank Board Member John Edwards and former Federal Court Judge Michael Moore, to conduct an official review of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
At age 37, McCallum married Mary Crock, a B.A., LL.B., and Ph.D. (Law) graduate of the University of Melbourne and its law school and now Professor of Law at the University of Sydney. They have two sons and a daughter.
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- Top honours for Monash community members, 14 June 2006
- A unique attack on workers' rights, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2005
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- "Australian elected to UN Committee", HREOC press release
- Attorney General press release
- "Ambassadors 2010". Don't DIS my ABILITY. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Shorten, Bill (20 December 2011). "Fair Work Act Review announced". Ministers' Media Centre, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
- "International Board of Ambassadors". LIGHT FOR THE WORLD. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Senior Australian of the Year", Retrieved 25 January 2011
- "Professor Mary Crock". Sydney Law Schoo.