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For the University of Sydney and the rest of Australia, the National Sorry Day on 26 May is an opportunity to express remorse over the mistreatment of Indigenous Australians in the past. Held every year since 1998, the National Sorry Day commemorates the presentation of the Bringing Them Home report to the federal government on 26 May in 1997, which contained the results of an inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

Just in time for the National Sorry Day and the National Reconciliation Week starting on 27 May, Sydney University Press has released a new book Taking Our Place: Aboriginal Education and the Story of the Koori Centre at the University of Sydney - a history of the interaction between the Aboriginal community and the University of Sydney.

From 1966 when Charles Perkins became the first known person of Aboriginal origin to graduate with a degree from a university, to today when Indigenous people are graduating in fields as diverse as medicine, architecture, law and teaching, Taking Our Place celebrates the many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who have helped in the development and success of Aboriginal education at the University of Sydney.

Written by John Cleverley and Janet Mooney, Taking Our Place explores the creation, in 1975, of the Aboriginal Teachers Aides program which as Linda Burney says, ‘was a groundbreaking program, [as] it opened up universities for Aboriginal people’. Even though this program was ultimately absorbed into the TAFE system, its success provided the catalyst for the creation of the Aboriginal Education Centre (AEC), renamed the Koori Centre in 1992.

Today, with its own research and teaching capability the Koori Centre is crucial in offering support to an increasing number of Indigenous students undertaking mainstream degrees at the university. It also provides a focal point for non-Indigenous students wishing to broaden their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal history and culture.

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