Year 11 & 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience Day - "A Place For Us"

30 May 2013

Nearly 50 years have passed since Charles Perkins became the first Aboriginal man to graduate from the University of Sydney. In that time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student enrolments have grown close to 300. Welcoming the Year 11 & 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students visiting the University of Sydney as a part of Reconciliation Week, Professor Shane Houston's message was clear. Naming the students who sat before him as the future leaders of Australia, he emphasised the importance of higher education and strongly encouraged each of them to pursue an opportunity of studying at university with pride and confidence.

With this in mind, the students joined a range sessions including HSC study skills, preparation of scholarship applications and an introduction to the Access Sydney and the support provided by the Cadigal Program. The students particularly enjoyed hearing about university life from current Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander students at the University.

Before lunch, the group visited the "People like us", installation a selection of video interviews, which showcases the thoughts, dreams and hopes of 14 of the University's Aboriginal staff and students.

Professor Houston then welcomed the students to the front lawns for the official launch of the University's Reconciliation Week. Together they watched as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags unfurled high above the Clock Tower.

During lunch the tables were abuzz - many of these students know each other out of school and this was a great day for them to see each other in a new environment. Aunty Beryl, who manages the Gardiners Lodge cafe where they ate, reinforced messages received throughout the day reminding the students that it takes tenacity, passion and dedication to achieve goals.

The Year 11 & 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students' Experience day is offered to a wide range of schools across Sydney. Working with our community partners The Smith Family, SouthCares and units from across the University the program is one of a series of initiatives aimed at encouraging Aboriginal students to consider higher education.