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10 April 2019


Vendor Aaron

I grew up in Mount Gambier. I have an older brother, but we’re no longer in contact, and two younger sisters – we still speak on Facebook. Dad worked in the Woods and Forest Department and Mum stayed at home.

Home life was hard sometimes, a little bit violent. During school and my younger years I got in trouble a bit. By the time I was eight, I had been in five different foster homes. 

I moved in with a nice foster family when I was eight, in a town north of Mount Gambier. My foster father was a carpenter. My foster mum taught me how to catch two buses to primary school. They had a swimming pool, it was great, they treated me nicely. When I was 10 my foster family moved to Adelaide, and I stayed with them.

I still didn’t like school much, apart from playing sport. High school didn’t last long – I was kicked out in Year 8 due to my temper. I decided maybe school wasn’t for me.

At 14 I got my first job, at Junction Markets, collecting trolleys and things like that. On Saturdays I would be involved with the church youth group and helped set up the sound systems and organise the PA. I loved it. I also got involved with the Klemzig drum corp, playing side drums. We would play in competitions and Christmas pageants; I really enjoyed that as well.

At 16 I tried to move back home, but it didn’t work. My foster family wanted to adopt me, but Mum said no. At 18, the government provided me with a flat that I shared with Mum for a while. I would hang out and play games. This didn’t last long. I moved back in again with my foster parents; they still were looking out for me.

After that I tried to work here and there – at Coles, doing lights and PA systems, at the Old Adelaide Jail. I travelled between Mount Gambier and Adelaide a lot to go and see Dad or help out my uncle who would give me some money to buy smokes.

I lived on my own, but got bored. I stayed with my sister for a while. I got engaged, but it didn’t work out. I’ve tried staying away from Mount Gambier as it causes me trouble for some reason; I don’t want to cause any trouble.

A few years ago, I was sleeping rough for a bit. I made a few friends who took me to their spot so I would be safe. For the last few months I’ve been staying with a friend.

I met a Big Issue staff member at Fred’s Van, a food van run by St Vinnies. That was in 2017, and I’ve been involved ever since. I love The Big Issue – meeting people, making regular customers and new connections. Sometimes the cafes around my pitch give me a free hot chocolate because they know me: I love hot chocolate.

I want to settle down and have kids – meet the right person and start a family. I’ve also never been on a plane; I want to go interstate or overseas.

I like living in Adelaide. I’m happy here. Please keep buying from me and talking to me, I really appreciate it.

Photo by Craig Arnold

Interview by Matt Stedman
Aaron sells The Big Issue at Hindmarsh Square and Adelaide CBD.