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15 September 2020

Cassie

Photo by Barry Street

I’m Brisbane born and bred. School was a bit hard for me because I was in the special education unit the whole time. I didn’t really like school, but I stayed until the end of Year 12. I didn’t get to do much mainstream learning, but I loved doing art. I love art. I do a bit of drawing and painting. I like to paint practically anything I can get my hands on. I go out into King George Square with my sketchbook and just sit there and do drawings. I’m trying to do a sketch of the city hall; it’s a beautiful building. I’ll do it in pencil first and then I’ll go around it in a black felt-tip pen. I transfer it onto tracing paper, then on a canvas, and then I paint it. I’m into music too. I don’t have any favourites, but I’m into my heavy metal: Bullet for My Valentine, Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot…

I don’t talk to my family much. It’s a bit of a hard one. I have brothers and sisters – there are six kids all up. But I have kids of my own – I’ve got one kid with my ex, and one kid with my partner Jasen, who also sells The Big Issue. The boy that I have with Jasen is two-and-a-half months, just a newborn. My other boy is four in October. They don’t live with us at the moment. But we do get to see them. They live with my mum and my stepdad, my kids.

My mental health has been up and down; I’m having a real bad case of mental health at the moment. Jasen and I are able to support each other though. We just moved into a two-bedroom unit, through government housing. I’ve got a carer now most of the week, too.

I first heard about The Big Issue from Jasen. He signed me up. Jasen and I always sell together; we’re always on the same pitch. I’m in a wheelchair, and if I need to take a break or something, he can take over. We get to chat while we’re selling, have a talk and figure out where to go next, stuff like that.

The thing I like about selling The Big Issue is meeting new people. It’s a social job. I haven’t been with The Big Issue for very long – almost a year. I was pregnant for most of the time I’ve been selling on pitch. It was an interesting way to sell the mag. People would ask me about it a lot, and it was a nice way to get to know people.

Selling The Big Issue is my first job. It helps that I get to work my own hours, and I use the money to pay bills. We get our magazines from The Body Shop. The people there are really lovely – they know me by name now. We have a few friends that are vendors too – Rodney, Jeromy, a few others that I’ve met by selling. We’ve become really good friends, and we hang out outside work.

In the future, I’m hoping to get both my kids home. I’m working on it. I’m really looking forward to getting them home.

Interview by Melissa Fulton
Cassie sells The Big Issue at JD Sports on Elizabeth St, Brisbane.