24 January 2014
“I was born in Bathurst, left there when I was four because there was no school there for me. I’ve got cerebral palsy and have seizures, epilepsy. It’s a physical disability that’s got worse – I used to be able to walk, till my knees went – now I have a motorised chair.
I went to primary school in Canberra but wasn’t happy at my high school so I left early. I worked at [Canberra disability enterprise] Koomarri for 24 years. I used to work in the big office, stamping mail. I’d help, too, teaching people there who couldn’t read.
I’ve been selling The Big Issue for three years now. I came in to Woden Community Service and the staff there told me about it. I prefer it, and I make more money selling the magazine than I used to in my old job.
I sell near the coffee shop in the square at Woden – I share that pitch with Grant and Michelle. I’m also in Civic, near the cinema. If it’s too cold, I’ve got a spot in the sun there.
I like to work as often as I can, but I do different hours each day. I can choose my own hours – and stay home on rainy days because I can’t get the controller on my chair wet. I like to chat to my customers and to help, holding the doors open for elderly people when I’m selling. I’ve got a good memory and I learn the names of my customers. I would like to thank all the people who have bought from me over the years.
I have been supported very well by the staff at The Big Issue. I get a box full of magazines from the office, and read each new edition when I get home – I really like the cartoons, they’re funny. People give me tips, and Christmas is always good with generous people.
I used to follow the Raiders, but I didn’t get along with their coach, so now I’m a Roosters fan. They gave me a pair of shorts when I saw them at Canberra Stadium and I met their coach!
I used to do competition tenpin bowling, with a carer helping, until it became too hard to find someone to assist. Now I’m saving up to go away – to a camp at Newcastle, but there’s a waiting list. You can choose which carers you want, and they’re very nice.
Working makes me happy. I like to be independent. I would like to keep on working for many years. Plus, The Big Issue is a good read!”
Interview by Peter Ascot/photograph by Emma Dryden
Kylie sells The Big Issue in Woden and Civic, Canberra