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20 September 2018



Rhys sells The Big Issue in Rundle Mall, Adelaide.

I have been a vendor for around two years now. Before Big Issue I was collecting cans on and off. I heard about The Big Issue through another vendor, Ruth, on the free city loop bus. She was on her way to work. We were just chatting and it came up. She said you’ll make more money than collecting cans! My parents were embarrassed of me collecting cans and going through bins so this was something new, a more respectable job, a step up.

Growing up at home was mostly fine, no issues there. School was a struggle. I guess I enjoyed it half half. I have a learning disability which means I am a slow learner. I enjoyed PE and the breaks in between lessons, but not the learning side of things. I found tests hard and I especially found exams hard. I completed Year 9 but left towards the end of Year 10.

I went straight from school to dad’s business; my first job was working in spare parts, packing cleaning parts. I did this for around nine years, part-time. I’d get a bit distressed at 4pm when customers would call and they would want more parts to be added to the parcel – it’s a rush to the end of the day.

I see a lot of my parents, which is good. Dad is retired. Mum still does account work. I have an older brother. He is two years older than me. He’s in Adelaide and is a youth worker. I probably see him around once a month. I have one grandparent left, who I see mostly on Sundays. Occasionally Mum and I will take him to church, have coffee and lunch. I’ve never been married or had any kids. I would like a relationship in the future.

I’ve always lived in Adelaide. I grew up in Prospect, a suburb north of the city. At the moment I am living alone, paying my own way, in a townhouse west of the city. I’ll probably live in Adelaide forever. I have been interstate a lot on holidays – nearly everywhere except for NT. I went to England to see the Ashes, which was great. NZ once, Singapore for basketball. These were all in my twenties. In Australia, I’ve mainly been to Melbourne and Perth, I’ve got some family over there in Perth. I like Melbourne probably the best. I’d like to travel to the USA. Trying to save as hard as I can.

My pitches are mainly The Body Shop and Haigh’s both in Rundle Mall and Blue Lemon cafe on North Terrace in the city. Some people stop and chat for a little bit. I know a few by name, occasionally recognise their faces, some of them buy me a coffee sometimes as well on top of the mag, which is generous.

I’m a fairly good seller! The best thing about selling is getting out of the house instead of being home all day – having something to do. The income from The Big Issue has made a bit of a difference. I get to buy more food, pay off expenses quicker, buy more sneakers for example. I have to buy sneakers once a year for all the standing and walking I do!

Interview by Jess Parker

Interview by Jessica Parker