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30 May 2019


I’m originally from a little town called Buffalo in South Gippsland. It’s about 100 miles from Melbourne. It’s absolutely beautiful. I grew up on a dairy farm and it was lovely. We had dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep as well. It was a 400-acre farm, so it was quite big.

I’m from a big family, I have four sisters and two brothers. I lost one brother. I’m the oldest girl. My parents died a long time ago, but I still see my family. One is in Sydney, one lives in the country in Inverloch, two live in Melbourne and my brother lives in Sorrento. I visit the ones in Melbourne quite often. I’ve got eight nephews and seven nieces. Isn’t that lovely?

I went to the nearest high school, which was in Leongatha. It was very enjoyable, I had friends and I played netball. I liked history and art and maths. And when I was a young girl, I learned the piano. You wouldn’t believe it but living next door to us at the dairy farm was a lady who was a piano teacher, out there in Woop Woop! So my mother arranged for me to have piano lessons when I was nine and I’ve been playing the piano ever since. When I moved to Melbourne I bought my own piano from Brashs. I play classical music and modern music.
I only did part of Form Six and then moved to Melbourne and got a job. I’ve been in Melbourne nearly 50 years. I know, I look younger than what I actually am!

I got a job with an insurance company as a clerical worker. They were very nice people and I had a very nice boss. I had many office jobs. But then I was injured. So I went on the disability pension.
I first found out about The Big Issue when I was at Prahran Mission doing voluntary work. There was a sign on the wall and it said The Big Issue, and I thought, I wonder what that is? So I rang the number and spoke to Kirstie [in Vendor Support] and she conducted an interview. I started selling, that was in 2000. I worked for eight years, but then I retired for a while. I’ve now come out of retirement. I had financial difficulties and The Big Issue were very nice and they let me come back. Selling the magazine helps me pay the bills.
I sell at the GPO. I’ve been there for nearly two years. I’ve got regular customers and people are very friendly. Obviously not everyone is friendly, but a lot of people smile and say hello. You have to be brave to sell The Big Issue because, while there are some nice people, there are also some unusual people.

In my spare time I watch the AFL. I’ve been a Melbourne supporter since I was a little girl. My grandfather played for Melbourne. And I go on bus tours with groups of other older people.

The best thing about selling The Big Issue is the people that you meet. This Easter, people gave me chocolates and cards. People are absolutely delightful. They are so kind.

>> Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
>> Photo by James Braund


Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Teresa sells The Big Issue at the GPO in the Melbourne CBD.