Interview by Kurt Maroske, The Big Issue Australia
I’ve been selling The Big Issue for about 14 years and first got involved after seeing another vendor selling outside a supermarket. I asked what it was all about and signed up that same day – it was as easy as that! That was a time in my life when things were starting to go a little bit better for me: I’d just moved out of hostels into a house and I had got custody of my daughter. The Big Issue definitely helped; I had a way to earn some money, too.
The most important thing to me is being a good dad to my daughter. I’ve had custody of her since she was two years old and brought her up by myself. Life wasn’t always easy for me, as a single dad, but I tried to give her as much love and support as I could. I’m so proud of her: she’s quite smart and talented, and I know she’s going to do great things in life. She’s going to TAFE [a technical and further education institution] now and has recently moved into a shared house with a friend. I think she has a bright future ahead of her. Since my daughter moved out, the house could have been a bit lonely, so I’ve got myself two bull terriers to keep me company.
Before selling the magazine, I worked a lot of different jobs, such as labouring and steel fixing […] I worked in a galvanising factory for a while too, but wouldn’t wish that job on anyone. I’ve also worked as a taxi driver, but after being hit by a car more than a decade ago and getting a big knock on my head, I started having seizures and was told by doctors that I wouldn’t be allowed to drive anymore. I’ve just been selling The Big Issue since then.
I’ve also been playing Street Soccer for years. I signed up two weeks after the program started in Brisbane, although I wasn’t sure I’d do well. I learned a lot of skills and improved really quickly though, and these days I’m there almost every week. I went for about five years without missing a single session!
Street Soccer is really important to me and it helps me to make connections as well as helping out a bit with my fitness. I’ve represented Queensland twice at the National Street Soccer Championships: once when it was in Melbourne and once in Sydney. I’m not sure if I played well or not, but I loved the opportunity to be there. It meant a lot to me to be able to represent Queensland, and to meet players and coaches from other states.
I’m generally a bit of a sports fan. I used to play rugby league growing up and I still watch the games when I can. I always try to watch the Broncos on TV! I also love swimming.
There are a lot of people who have bought the magazine from me over the years and I feel well looked after by them. There’s one regular customer in particular who has given me lots of support for about a decade and always stops to buy the magazine. He has a daughter about the same age as mine, so he knows what it’s like being a dad.
Whether you’re a regular or just someone I see now and then, I’d like to thank everyone who’s ever bought a magazine, or even just stopped to have a chat. Having the chance to meet new people means a lot to me. Thank you to all the kind customers who buy me a hot chocolate in the mornings too – it gets really cold some days!