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4 April 2018



Things have not always been easy for me, but I have always kept my sense of humour and I am the first one to laugh! I've been vision-impaired since birth and also have epilepsy. I suffer from depression, partly because I find people judge me because of my disabilities and because of the way I look. I was born with a big birthmark which covers most of my face and I'm a large guy. At school I was teased and bullied and got into a lot of fights, as a result I was often suspended from school.

I'm pretty active and play basketball every week and I also do tenpin bowling. I started bowling when I was only nine years old. I've tried many other sports but bowling suits me the best. When I was 21 I was accepted for a national competition and since then I've been competing in the Nationals each year. I've also competed in two world competitions, one in Sydney and the other in Kuala Lumpur.

I've always been a Perth boy and I'm a big fan of the Perth Wildcats. I've been playing basketball since I was 21, every week for 10 years. I met some vendors at basketball and they told me about The Big Issue so I thought I'd give it a go.

Before I worked at The Big Issue I tried TAFE but that didn't work out. I also washed cars for a while but the pay was terrible. I had another job for a while, but I broke my leg and was off work for a couple of months. When I was ready to come back to work I was no longer needed.

Now I work three days a week at The Big Issue. I've worked every edition for the last two years. The income I earn from The Big Issue helps to fund my bowling trips and other bits and pieces. I try to save as much as possible. It's been good meeting new people and I've also made some friends at The Big Issue. I do have on and off days when selling the magazine, but I take the good days with the bad – it's a bit like sport really, you can't always be on fire! Lately I've been on fire, where I've managed to sell a lot of mags at events like the Fringe Festival.

One day I'd love to get a job to do with trucks or trains, maybe on board the Kalgoorlie or Bunbury trains doing customer service. My dad was a truck driver and I was always on the road with him, especially when I wasn't in school. My whole life I wanted to be an interstate truckie so I could travel across Australia. I like big trucks and I love being in the bush. I'm addicted to the diesel, it runs through my veins! Just like the Jayne Denham song goes. I love country music, I grew up listening to Slim Dusty, Lee Kernaghan and John Williamson to name a few. I'm an avid karaoke singer and go twice a week. I want to retire to Tamworth because of the country music festival and the good vibes there with people playing music all the time in the street. I went there for my 31st birthday and loved it! I'd love to go again. Mum said she might take me there for my 35th birthday but she didn't, I'll have to tell her off for that haha!

Ryan sells The Big Issue at the Hay Street Body Shop and the Arts Bridge, Perth

Photo by Ross Swanborough

Interview by Sonya Bateman
Perth, WA