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20 September 2018



Tukuf sells The Big Issue at various locations in the Melbourne CBD.

I left school when I was halfway through Year 10 to do a plumbing apprenticeship with my dad. I didn’t mind school; I liked maths but I wasn’t good at writing essays like English, but I tried my best.

You know when you grow up and you have arguments with your old man? It didn’t work. I was just one of those people that likes to be by myself, so I argued with my parents and we went our separate ways. I haven’t seen them since. It’s been about 20 years now. I didn’t leave because it was a violent situation, I just wanted to go my own way. I have a younger brother and a younger sister. As far as I know they are in Melbourne.

I never became a registered plumber so I drove taxis. I did it for three years off and on. Then I worked in agencies like Drake and for Pura doing Big M stuff, that was really good. I worked in a factory on air-conditioners. Other than that, I’ve been unemployed for a really long time.

I first heard about The Big Issue in 2002 – when I was 29. I was in a rooming house, in St Kilda, I think. I have slept rough on and off for a long time. Since November last year I’ve been living in Flagstaff Gardens on a bench. There are a few vendors living in the park. It’s a challenge. It is cold, but I’ve got myself a good coat. I don’t mind. Down at Queen Victoria Market there’s a soup van that comes every night and you get free food. They give you heaps and you can have it for breakfast the next day.

I like selling The Big Issue. Lately I have been working at Parliament Station on Lonsdale Street, usually in the afternoon. What I love best about The Big Issue is you can come to work when you want, you can change your pitch, and you can go home early if you are having a bad day. I must admit though, after a while you get sore feet. But you have days where you sell a lot of magazines and you get tips. It makes you feel good when you have some money.

In my spare time I like playing computer games. I bought myself a Nintendo – a little hand-held computer. I like Luigi’s Mansion and I have a car-racing game. I charge it up when I come into The Big Issue. And I follow St Kilda. I’ve followed them for years and they haven’t won a grand final yet! I listen to the games on a radio at the park.

I don’t have my name on any lists for housing at the moment but I have spoken to someone at Flagstaff Crisis Accommodation… I’m one of those that don’t ask for much. I say no to most things. Maybe it’s how I was brought up. Maybe it’s bad, I don’t know… I like being by myself, but I don’t like living by myself in a park. Eventually I would like to get some accommodation.

Photo by James Braund

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas