In the 2000s, the Pay the Rent concept was further developed into a scheme which linked it to Treaty. This is encapsulated in a Treaty and Lease written by the late Bejam Kunmanara Jarlow Nunukel Kabool, in conversation with people associated with the post-1972 Aboriginal Embassy including Robbie Thorpe. Bejam envisaged that treaties could be made between a range of individuals and entities of various sizes by way of a matrix system, and that Pay the Rent could resource a range of local projects, such as the re-establishment of traditional forms of governance (Sacred Treaty Circles).
The following are links to summaries of some ways Pay the Rent has been implemented.
A Pay The Rent scheme operated in Fitzroy during the 1990s. In this scheme, funds were provided to: “Any Aboriginal community service RUN BY ABORIGINAL PEOPLE", for example:
– Land Council
– Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy
– Yappera Child Care
– Koori Information Centre (KIC)
– Aboriginal Advancement League (AAL)
– Fitzroy Stars Youth Club”.
How it worked: The Fitzroy Pay the Rent group received funds from a range of interested non-Aboriginal people; and passed it on to their Aboriginal counterparts, who then utilised and distributed the funds as they saw fit. The Pay the Rent group was thereby able to calculate a running total of how much was being paid and by how many people/parties.
Under the Pay the Rent scheme in Sydney in the 1990s, funds went to “Community-based Aboriginal organisations working in any field of social welfare, for example, health, housing, education, political campaigns, legal, rural projects, children’s services, women, arts and culture.”
How it worked: Action for World Development (AWD) maintained a list of NSW Aboriginal organisations, including names, location, contacts and fields of concern. They were able to send this list out to those interested in pledging to Pay the Rent. People would then choose the organisation they wished to support from the list provided. Then they would send that organisation a notification sheet, together with their pledge and first payment. They would also notify AWD of their choice so that AWD could send them regular information about the Pay the Rent project and news of how their contributions were being used.
In 2008 the group began developing a native garden at 98 Yoorala St, The Gap in Brisbane, Qld. The Group works to creatively bring together Indigenous & non-Indigenous Australians. Its many activities are guided by the local Aboriginal people and grounded in the garden space. Read more.
Balaangala has an ongoing education process, groups are guided by local Aboriginal people and reflect on matters like; Treaty, invasion, stolen land, massacres, destruction of culture, & how that impacted at the local level. Learning how non-indigenous people have benefited, & still benefit from colonisation, highlights the need to decolonise ourselves. A group ‘commitment to action’ decision led to the development of a Pay the Rent Scheme. The Scheme recognises the “rent” we as a non-Indigenous community, owe to First Nation peoples, for living on lands unlawfully taken from them.
Broadly, the Scheme will collect money from non-Indigenous people. A panel of four First Nations people will distribute the funds to First Nations controlled groups from South-East QLD. Priority will be given to groups who cannot obtain government funds & who aim to provide sustainable ongoing projects. The Scheme will likely evolve over time.
A group of anarchists and activists come together as a study group to inform themselves about issues including ‘resist, revive, decolonise’ that form the manifesto of a recently established First Nations collective. They meet once a month at a different member’s house in turn. The host provides a meal. Those attending bring Pay the Rent money (suggested amount $5 per meeting). The money collected is paid into one of three accounts (on a rotating basis): 1) the new First Nations collective 2) an older First Nations collective; 3) Traditional Owner Land Council where the meetings are held.
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society discussed the idea of paying the rent coming up to invasion day 2016 and decided to give some money to a couple of local Aboriginal groups as well as encourage others to do the same. They wrote a statement about invasion day with a small graphic encouraging people to pay the rent. “This Invasion/Survival Day, the AJDS asks that we think about the ways in which we all benefit from colonisation. We encourage active work to support Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous rights, as well as projects of decolonisation. This invasion day, we are paying the rent; will you also pay the rent?"
Uniting Church paying 10% of property sales to its Aboriginal Congress. Also, the Uniting Churches gives property to Congress in order for them to have a base for church and commercial activities.
Whilst not strictly Pay the Rent, the Indigenous Hospitality House(IHH) is founded in the acknowledgment that we live in stolen land and have a responsibility to respond to this. The IHH does this by providing accommodation and hospitality for Aboriginal people visiting family members in Hospital. While no money goes to Aboriginal people, the fruits of the Churches property ownership is shared and made available to Aboriginal people. The IHH also helps bring non-Aboriginal people into the political struggle through their role as hosts at the IHH.
When two people bought a house together, they were deeply conscious of buying a house on stolen land, land that has been traded without permission by the Aboriginal owners. They decided to borrow an extra $10,000 and put it into a Pay the Rent fund as a stolen land tax. They are also intending to paint an Aboriginal flag on their front fence, with the words “always was, always will be, Aboriginal land’. Their wills provide the opportunity for the land to be returned to Aboriginal land trusts.
Wiradjuri author Anita Heiss’ book Tiddas includes a fictionalised discussion about Pay the Rent. In the extract shown, a married couple who buy a house together consider how they could honour the spirit of Pay The Rent.
Richard is Wiradjuri and Nadine is non-Aboriginal and in the story Nadine is the main breadwinner.
An organisation with the radical lesbian political scene goes about Paying the Rent in this way:
“We have a 10 per cent policy whenever we have a camp or conference … Everyone pays a rego fee and then 10 per cent of that is either donated to an Aboriginal organisation (which the organizers choose) or alternatively it goes to cover free entry for any Aboriginal woman who wants to come … It’s basically handed over to Aboriginal women or lesbians to decide where it should be distributed to… The radical lesbian cultural thing is mostly populated by women with not much money, so it is sort of quite a big thing."
Extract from: Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles (2015, 1st ed). Zed Books, London.