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15 December 2016

Michael

Photograph by Nat Rogers

I had a loving caring family, and was raised well with good values. I grew up just outside of Adelaide in Gawler – at that stage it felt like a country town. They have knocked down my school – there are housing developments there now!

I really liked agricultural studies, and used to be part of the Scouts and that was fun. It was challenging but I got through it.

I was born disabled, a cerebral palsy sufferer from birth. I used a frame as a child – as you get older your muscles tighten and that in turn restricts walking. It made me a stronger person,
even though it was hard not to be able to run around like the other kids. I’ve been positive since day one!

Now I have an electric wheelchair. Having a disability hasn’t stopped me and if I want to do something I’ll go ahead and do it! I have done the 12km City to Bay Fun Run about four times, in
the Cara team.

Cara’s a disability services organisation that looks after me. For 10 years I worked on their Reference Council as a spokesperson for other clients. Last year I did a conference trip to Melbourne for them – I’m not scared of public speaking. I did packaging for 12 years with every organisation you can imagine. It was okay, better than just sitting around, but the wages are low. The Big Issue is a better job.

I found out about The Big Issue through Steve, another vendor who is with Cara. I started here because I wanted a change. Being outside and meeting new people really appealed to me. Gives me a new outlook towards everything, and extra money is good as well. Working here has made me happier and even more confident than I already am, and I have made friends with some of the vendors.

I enjoy having the routine of coming in. I sell The Big Issue every day, including weekends, unless I want a day off. I start at eight o’clock, work till about four, get a bite to eat somewhere. I sell at the Mall, the Arcade, North Adelaide and People’s Choice
– that’s a new pitch in town. You’ve got to get a good customer base to get it going. You get this by talking to people – nicely!

Ever since I started I have been saving up for a van, by working as much as I can. I bought one in August – it can take my chair and my carers will drive me in it, instead of getting a taxi.

I’m writing my own book at the moment, about my life. I type very slowly, so I get a volunteer to help me write it down. And I like going to the footy – go Power! I am a member and go to every game here. I used to play rugby, soccer, hockey, volleyball
and touch football.

This article first appeared in Ed#522 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Peter Ascot and Jess Parker
Michael sells The Big Issue in North Adelaide and Adelaide CBD