Home  /  The Big Issue Magazine  /  Vendors  /  Sean

10 January 2014


Photograph by Ross Swanborough

“I was born in Subiaco, Western Australia. I have a brother and a sister, but have not seen them for years. Mum was always drinking and my dad left when I was three months old, so I do not know anything about him. I did track him down a few years back. I went to Melbourne and knocked on his door, but he told me to go away and said he did not have a son.

When Dad left, Mum had a boyfriend who abused me. I was eight years old at the time. I told Mum but she did not believe me and gave me a clip around the ear. Mum’s drinking problem got worse when she had a miscarriage and I was fostered out to several families.

I went to Balga Special School, but was expelled after a while. I did enjoy sport and was quite a good runner, but I was not happy and left to live on the streets when I was 14. I found it very tough. I slept on Cottesloe Beach for a while, only had a T-shirt and jeans, no shoes. I had to beg to get money for food.

I did this for almost two years, but I used to get bashed up so much. Once I was beaten up by a guy who broke my ribs and cut my eye quite badly. I then got off the streets and stayed at the YMCA. I did not have a job and got into trouble with the police, and spent some time in prison for a number of small offences.

A short time after I got out, Mum died and this upset me so much I had a breakdown and spent some time in a hospital psychiatric ward. I was a bit lost when I got out of hospital, then I met Adrian and Denise who were selling The Big Issue near Myer in Perth. They said I should try it and I went to the office the next day to sign up. I went to one of the vendor meetings and met a lady who was also selling the magazine. We started going out and eventually got married. We were really happy, but things went wrong when our son was born. I felt that I was left out and that my wife gave all her attention to the baby. I was unhappy and eventually we split up.

The Big Issue has helped me manage my life. It helps with my finances and I am now able to budget for things and not rely on the Public Trustee to handle my money. I also enjoy being out and meeting new people. As well as my pitch outside BHP Billiton St Georges Terrace, I sell at the Stirling Farmers’ Market every Sunday morning. I am part of the community there, and everyone is very friendly and supportive.

I would like to help other people who are having a hard time with life – I think my experience will help others to deal with their problems.”

Interview by Jim Petrie/photograph by Ross Swanborough
Sean sells The Big Issue at St Georges Terrace, Perth, at at the Stirling Farmers' Market.