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16 April 2020

Jack

Photo by George Fetting

I come from a family of 10. As a child we moved around the country a bit and settled in a place called Coonabarabran in NSW. We had a farm and bred pigs. Through drought and stuff it got a bit hard, and my mum and dad separated. Dad went to South Australia, Mum went to Sydney and I stayed out bush working for a while.

I got halfway through Year 9 and then left school to go to work. But then I decided I was going to go back to school. I only got eight months through Year 11. I seemed to be doing alright then I fell into the wrong crowd. I got into a little bit of trouble with the law when I was 18. That sort of stuff sticks with you for the rest of your life. It was a long time ago and it’s not the sort of person that I am now.

I ended up on the Sunshine Coast, where I met my first wife and had a son. I worked as a logistics manager for a cabinet-making company. But that deteriorated around the same time my marriage did. Jy is turning seven in July. I haven’t seen him in three years… It’s hard but I’ve had to learn how to deal with it.

When I separated from my wife I went to live with my mum. She passed away and I just found myself with no motivation for anything. Then times got hard and I found myself out on the street in Sydney.

I saw a lady selling The Big Issue down at Wynyard and asked her about it. I was trying to clean up my act, so I started selling the magazine. My motivation came back when I started having some success with The Big Issue – that’s when I met Alesya.

I was living on the streets and she came up to me and said she’d pray for me. We hit it off and next minute we’re going to have a baby, and a year later here we are, we have our son. He’ll be 12 weeks tomorrow. He’s gorgeous. Life feels good again. He was born on Christmas Day and his name is Levi. I love singing to him because he smiles at you when you do. Songs like Frank Sinatra’s ‘I Love You Baby’ or ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

Usually, I sell outside Channel 7. I’ve had Kylie Gillies buy a magazine, Larry Emdur, Samantha Armytage. And I’ve got quite a few regular customers who stop by for a chat. I’ve got people who come and check on me every day to see how I’m going in the face of this whole coronavirus thing. It’s had an impact, but I’m keeping my head above water and that’s because of the support that I’m getting from people.

To all my customers, thank you very much for the support. The income from The Big Issue took me off the streets. Essentially, you are giving me the opportunity to provide for my family.

And I want to let everyone know that me and Alesya are getting married in April. It’s given me faith that things will come good. We’re not having a big wedding. It will be a small little private ceremony with the Harbour Bridge and the city in the background. And obviously Levi is going to be a part of it. It’s going to be one of the best days in my life.

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Jack usually sells The Big Issue outside the channel 7 studio at Martin Place, Sydney