2 November 2012
"I was born in Tassie, but my parents split up and Mum raised me and my two brothers on Centrelink payments. We went to the local public schools, in a government housing area.
I found my all-girls state high school a bit bitchy, and dropped out in Year 10. I couldn’t keep up with the schoolwork, and I wasn’t popular. Being a bigger person, I did get targeted a bit. As soon as I turned 16 I went straight onto Youth Allowance.
At 18 I went to live with Dad, but we had an argument and I had to move out. At this point I wasn’t talking to Mum or Dad, so ended up in a women’s shelter, where I found acceptance from the staff and the other women. I was diagnosed with depression and got some counselling. It did improve.
After that I was couch-surfing for two years. During the day I’d go to drop-in centres, or hang around the streets because I had nothing to do. It was in 2006 that I finally got a trolley job – it kept me occupied for four hours a day, a few days a week. I did that for a couple of years and then got a work placement as an admin assistant for nearly 12 months.
When that finished I did a business course, and had a downward spiral of depression. I was fine until the end of 2009, but it finally hit that I wasn’t earning any money and was just relying on Centrelink payments. I got an eating disorder and lost heaps of weight.
At the same time, in early 2010, I got involved with The Big Issue’s Street Soccer program in Hobart. I was into it in no time. I went to the 2010 and 2011 soccer nationals in Sydney, where I met Adelaide vendor Eddie – he’s gorgeous. I got selected for last year’s Homeless World Cup in Paris. All I had to provide was my own spending money for souvenirs!
And I scored the first goal for Australia, from a penalty! The best part was the Eiffel Tower right there behind the goalkeeper. Most countries sent men’s and women’s teams, but Australia sent a mixed team, so I was the only girl playing against all the guys.
I was leaving Hobart anyway, and came to Adelaide last November. I sell at the train station, seven until nine in the morning, the busiest time. I stand there and go, ‘Please don’t trample me!’ I have a few people who enjoy stopping for a yarn with me, even if they’ve already bought the magazine on another day.
That’s another reason I love the station; it’s the business people and I like them, from back when I did my work placement. I feel part of it. I just love being up at Mt Barker market on a Saturday morning, too – it reminds me of the close-knit community you can get in rural areas.
I’d like to do everything, if I had the chance – to travel, and one day feel comfortable enough to have my name on a lease, to get a job somewhere. But right now having a yarn to my regular customers really does make my day."
Interview by Peter Ascot/ Photograph by Andy Rasheed
Cindy sells The Big Issue at Adelaide Railway Station