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10 September 2018



Meet Deejay.

He sells The Big Issue in Toowong Shopping Centre, Southbank Station and outside Avid Reader, West End, Brisbane

This is his story. 

Growing up in Brisbane I enjoyed school – it was pretty easy for me. My favourite memory from when I was a kid was going to Sea World. I loved seeing all the animals. One morning we got up at four o’clock to walk along the beach and watch the sunrise. I left school in Year 9 because life threw me a few curveballs, but I eventually went to TAFE to do a Certificate II in Woodwork. We’d make timberwork, all different stuff. I ended up doing an apprenticeship.

I’ve always found it difficult to find work. I’ve had bad luck after bad luck. I heard about The Big Issue from friends – Ernie and Graham, two long-term Big Issue vendors from Ipswich and West End. I started selling the magazine, but had a break for about two years because I’d made some bad choices and wasn’t doing so well personally… But I’m back again and doing fantastic. I came back because I was short on money and it’s nice to get a chance to earn my own money. I missed The Big Issue when I was gone… I really like to work outside and to have conversations with my customers. I also like coming to the vendor breakfast every fortnight. There’s great food and I get to see everyone!

I am in my own house at Woodridge. I live on my own with a carer who stays to help me out. I don’t have much family around. I don’t really see them because they’re spread all over Queensland and it’s hard for me to do much travelling. I spend time with friends instead.

I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. I roll with the punches. Since I’ve been back to The Big Issue I think I’ve had an attitude change and that’s helped me do better both personally and in my sales. I’ve got a big smile now and I’m not drinking no more. I’ve been sober for five years now. That was a massive challenge but I got people who helped me through it. I had a saying to help me keep going when times were tough: ‘It doesn’t hurt me.’ Like if something happens that’s out of my control I just say, ‘Well, it doesn’t hurt me.’ My carers have also started to say it!

I’m a big Broncos fan, and I made a sign that said ‘I am selling The Big Issue to raise money to go to a Broncos game!’ A customer of mine got in touch with the team and they responded by giving me tickets to the game and a jersey. I had an amazing time, especially because the Broncos won!

I also love racing cars. I’ve been saving up and I’m gonna buy a petrol-powered remote-control car. I’m getting it today! There’s a track near my place where I can race it. I also ride my BMX bike sometimes. I’m gonna bring my bike to the next vendor breakfast so afterwards we can go riding. I just want to say thank you to The Big Issue for helping me out. Thanks also to all my customers.

Portrait photo by Barry Street


Interview by Steph Young