I watch many people walking past my house as I sit on my verandah. And every time I see a First Nations person passing my house I am acutely aware of the fact that I have benefited from the theft of their land.
I live in a big old house that amply accommodates me and three cats, with room to spare. I am lucky to have a large garden where I can grow all the food I want to – and growing food gives me some independence and self-determination.
But the only reason I am able to do this is because that land was violently stolen in the first place, and the owners locked out of accessing it to continue their cultural practices, food production – and just living their lives.
So today, I started paying the rent. I discovered ‘Pay the Rent’, an organisation run by Indigenous Victorians where people who are landowners, or otherwise have the funds to, can pay rent which will go to providing goods and services to the First Nations people of Australia. Those of us who can afford to pay, can only afford it because we have gained from the dispossession of those people from their land, denying them access to traditional sources of food, water, places of cultural and sacred importance, and even their families.
Paying the rent in no way compensates for more than two hundred years of trauma caused by colonisation, but it is a tiny step towards justice for First Nations people.