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29 October 2020


Photo by Sean Davey

I started selling The Big Issue at the start of the year, and I’m really enjoying it. I like the fact that I get to stand outside in the sun; I get to talk to people and occasionally people give me money. Best job ever!

I’ve got vision impairment, autism, ADHD, depression and anxiety. I’ve had low vision since birth, so I kind of just got used to it growing up and it doesn’t really affect me. I only just got diagnosed with autism and that one’s a bit harder to deal with.

I grew up in Canberra and enjoyed school. Years 11 and 12 were a bit hard because I started developing mental health stuff, but before that I enjoyed school. I participated in a lot of sport. I was a cheeky kid, good at being a smart-arse.

I still do a tiny bit of sport. I started doing gymnastics only a month ago, learning trampoline skills, balancing – I find it really helps with the autism stuff, the sensory stuff. And I play footy on an all-abilities rugby league team, the Score Raiders.

I’ve never really stopped studying. I’m doing my Certificate IV in Mental Health; I’m doing it online so it’s self-paced. My end goal is to be a youth worker.
After school, I completed a qualification in learning support, so I am qualified to be a learning support assistant from Years K to 12. It’s essentially another adult in a school that works one-on-one with students who have additional needs.

I was volunteering at a primary school for four years, and I did a traineeship in childcare. But my boss wasn’t the nicest person, and I was like I don’t need to put up with this, so I quit. Now I’m earning more money than I was then. And The Big Issue provides more flexibility, so if I am having a day where I am really anxious, I can text: “I’m not going on pitch today; I’m not feeling good.”

I’m definitely starting to build up a community here in Kambar Village. I’ve had a few customers have talks with me, and tell me how they’ve had mental illness and other stuff, and that’s pretty good, getting to hear other people’s stories.

I moved out of my parents’ house almost 10 months ago, and I’m in a share house. It was definitely time to move out. It’s good that I found a house where the rent’s really cheap, and they’re really nice people.
My goal is to be able to save to get a deposit for a house, and I want to foster some kids. Through my work at the primary school and at the childcare, I’ve met a few kids that are foster kids. And I want to be that person who will be there, be present in children’s lives, so they can have a better future because they’ve had the experience of what love and support is.

Interview by Amy Hetherington
Grace sells The Big Issue at Kambah Village, Canberra, ACT