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3 October 2018

Murray

Murray

This is Murray. 

He sells The Big Issue at various locations around Canberra.

I grew up in Canberra. School was really good but I got into the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) on a scholarship doing discus and shot-put so I was training full-time and not going to school. I was 14, and I was with the AIS for eight years. I went to Germany, Hungary and Spain for all the world championships for the intellectually disabled. I held the world record in shot-put for about six years. I even held the world record for discus at one point. I went to the Sydney Paralympics in 2000. It was the best experience ever, just to hear the crowd and to see the closing and opening ceremonies. It was so wonderful to meet all the other competitors and learn about other people’s cultures. It was really good. I don’t compete anymore. I got a back injury and now I’m a paraplegic but I don’t want to talk about that…

Before The Big Issue I wasn’t doing much: playing Xbox, going to the movies and listening to music. I wasn’t working – not for a while. Then I heard through a friend about The Big Issue and then I saw Ron, the vendor support manager in ACT. He signed me up. He used to be my teacher at Black Mountain School in Canberra. It’s a disability high school.

I’ve got my mum, my dad, my twin sister, an older sister and a younger brother. We are all close. My mum and dad are really nice and they paid a lot for me to go overseas. They have given me a lot of support. I’m not married, I live in a group home. It’s great, I have great carers and two great flatmates. I’ve been here 13 months. My carers have been really supportive and stand with me when I sell. I want to say to them thank you for all the hard work that you do. It’s really hard work.

My dog Soxy, she’s a cross-terrier, also sometimes comes and sells with me – but not in the winter because it’s too cold. She loves it when she comes to my pitch and everyone loves her. She’s small, a lap dog. I just love dogs.

Selling The Big Issue gets me out of the house. It’s really changed my life around, and given me a bit of self-esteem. I never used to be able to deal with people. If they annoyed me, I would get a little bit frustrated and I would bite back, but since working with The Big Issue I’ve learned to deal with people.

I have some real good customers and sometimes there are other people who aren’t very nice. I like talking to people, and I do have really nice customers that chat with me. One lady buys me coffee, and some people buy me something to eat, which is really nice. It makes me feel a lot better that there are nice people like that out there who just want to chat. 

Photo by Sean Davey

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Canberra