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4 July 2014


Photograph by James Braund

I was born and raised in Geelong, and underwent heart surgery at three months old – I had transposition of the great arteries. When they tried to fix it, I had a stroke on the operating table, which caused me to have cerebral palsy.

I was crawling on the floor, but I couldn’t walk except on sticks. Now I have a motorised chair; I have been getting around in one since I was six years old.

I went to a normal primary and high school, and afterwards I did the Certificate in Retail I and II in the Gordon [Institute of TAFE]. I’d like to get a job in the supermarkets to stack the shelves, but I’d say it’s unlikely – they don’t want me.

I started The Big Issue because my husband, Shane [‘Vendor Profile’, Ed#358], sells it. I first met Shane when we both did a disabilities course in 1994 in Geelong, and we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other! He is a super boy. We got married in 1999.

Shane sells The Big Issue in town, and I thought I would give it a go, too. I started about four years ago, one day a week at the Westpac bank near the Bellarine Village [shopping centre], which is nearer for me, while Shane still goes into town.

Recently I worked from October to the end of March in the warm weather – I get pain in the colder months. The cold weather causes me problems because I’ve got arthritis – I have to stay indoors more in winter, so I won’t be selling then.

In my spare time I like hopping on my laptop, mainly on Facebook, and I play bingo Tuesday and Wednesday – I win cash sometimes, but not always!

I support the Collingwood Football Club. They should do well this year. Mostly I watch Collingwood play on TV, but we went to the NAB Challenge match versus Geelong down here this year. So we saw the game live – but they lost to Geelong by two points.

I’m trying to do a public-speaking course, so I can go round to primary and high schools and tell them why I’m in a wheelchair, and what I do. Shane does speaking visits like that, too.

I like things how they are, taking things one day at a time. I’d really like to thank the customers for their support of me and all the people with disabilities who sell The Big Issue.

Interview by Peter Ascot
Tanya sells The Big Issue in Geelong