VIDEO: World’s vendors say Happy 20th Birthday to The Big Issue Australia

The Big Issue Australia turns 20 today – and vendors from around the world have joined a host of high-profile Australians to help them celebrate.

In a touching and inspirational video released yesterday, Big Issue vendors from the UK, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan sent special birthday messages to their colleagues.

The Big Issue Australia collaborated with its sister publications with the help of INSP, which has connected and promoted the world’s street papers for more than 20 years.

Even Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined in the celebrations. In the video above, he buys his anniversary copy from Russell, who has been selling the street paper “very happily and very proudly” for 16 years.

The pair chat at Russell’s pitch on Colin Street in Melbourne about how important The Big Issue is to vendors like him.

“Ninety percent of my customers are regulars,” says Russell. “You get out and meet people; it gives so many vendors so much confidence.”

Since launching in Melbourne in 1996, the street paper has put $23 million directly into the pockets of 6,500 homeless and low-income vendors, who have collectively sold 10 million copies.

For the next fortnight, the paper’s current team of 550 vendors will be selling a special bumper edition that tracks the history of the street paper, from a single desk to one of Australia’s biggest social enterprises.

Big Issue supporters have also been praising the organisation on social media this week using the hashtags #20yearsofTBI and #proudlyworking.

2016 is a big year for our global network with an impressive 18 INSP publications celebrating landmark anniversaries. The Big Issue UK celebrates a fantastic 25 years. Meanwhile, The Big Issue South Africa, Hus Forbi in Denmark, Italy’s Scarp de’ Tenis, Dutch street paper Straatjournaal, German street paper Hempels and Austrian street paper Kupfermuckn are also turning 20.

Congratulations Big Issue Australia! Here’s to another 20 years of helping people help themselves.