Celebrate Big for
our 25th Birthday.
You’re invited to our Birthday Party!
We’re celebrating 25 Years Big with a
special video where vendors, program
participants, staff and supporters share
their stories and look back on the impact
of The Big Issue in Australia.
Issue #21, 2 June 1997
Actor Rachel Griffiths has been a friend of The Big Issue since the get-go, appearing here in a racy conceptual shoot (Crown of Thorns, see what we did there?) – and speaking out about the damage gambling does, an issue that some vendors are all too familiar with. Strangely enough there was no Ed#22 – an editing oversight meant two successive mags hit the street calling themselves Ed#21.
Issue #206, 29 Jun 2004
Global warming is a topic that the magazine has taken seriously and covered for decades – without falling for the lies and rampant disinformation. Then editor Martin Hughes took the plunge into the icy water of a winter’s Port Phillip Bay for this cover shot about environmental refugees – only for others to comment that the photo looked like it had been Photoshopped!
Issue #219, 27 Dec 2004
The New Year fiction edition was on sale for three weeks at the end of 2004, so it made sense for Big Issue cartoonist Andrew Weldon to combine summer and reading in his cover illustration. Of course, no-one was to know that the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was about to hit.
Issue #232, 4 Jul 2005
The Street Socceroos featured on this cover – they were just about to jump on a plane bound for Scotland, where they would be representing Australia in the Homeless World Cup, less than 12 months after editor Martin Hughes got the (soccer) ball rolling. Sixteen years later, the Street Soccer Program is bigger than ever, boosting players’ confidence and sense of community.
Issue #292, 20 Nov 2007
Kerry Packer famously won and lost millions on gambling tables; his son Jamie made billions – from others losing, in his casinos. This issue examined the psychology of casinos – how they seduce you into losing your money – and told the story of how one man stole $1million from his employer to feed his gambling addiction, which ended with three years in jail. Packer’s Crown Resorts was recently found unfit to hold a casino licence in Sydney.
Issue #320, 13 Jan 2009
“Forever Young – Why Neil Young is rocking on at 63” read the coverline, as the grizzled godfather of grunge made his way here to headline Big Day Out. Writer and one-time Big Issue editor Simon Castles had no trouble finding 10 reasons for why Young is still relevant, as he still is 12 years later. Oh and there was an extract from a book by President Obama – 16 years younger than Young.
Issue #323, 24 Feb 2009
The marvellous comic Judith Lucy is another long-time fave of the mag. In this hilarious interview she revealed that when she was eight years old, her mum put her on a diet (dinner of bran, yoghurt and raspberry cordial, mixed together), that she never had a shower until age 15, because Mum, who feared running water, said it was broken. Oh, and this gem: “The people that heckle you – God love them – are drunk fuckwits.”
Issue #340, 20 Oct 2009
Madonna may well be smiling on the cover, but perhaps she wouldn’t be if she read our cover story, which asserted that her cover of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ could well be “the worst cover song of all time”.
Issue #361, 17 August 2010
“In January 1788, of course, the first white settlement was founded at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, the Englishman in charge of the First Fleet, the original lot of boat people. Though we shouldn’t forget Captain James Cook, another intrepid boat person.” So wrote editor Alan Attwood in his editorial in support of the cover story. The Big Issue – on the right side of history, again.
Issue #367, 9 Nov 2010
You may recall Jessica Mauboy from our Ed#630 cover in February; she also graced the cover 11 years ago – and her distinctive lack of affectation was present then too. Intrepid reporter Melissa Cranenburgh noticed Mauboy was taller than before. “It’s these shoes,” Mauboy said, and lent down to pull off her platforms with “seriously steep heels”.
Issue #401, 28 Feb 2012
Photography has often been a focus (ha!) of The Big Issue, exemplified in “The Big Picture”, giving generous displays each and every edition to the work of both Australian and international photographers. This cover, of Danish actress Mellica Mehraban by photographer Laerke Posselt, won us the International Network of Street Papers Cover of the Year award.
Issue #409, 19 Jun 2012
Naturalist David Attenborough has been around even longer than The Big Issue – and has been on our cover more than once. This time around he was a mere octogenarian – and made clear his opinion of email. “If people want to get in touch, there’s the post”. When Sir David Attenborough was last on the cover (Ed#611 1 May 2020), he was a nonagenarian. We look forward to a centenarian cover.
Issue #521, 23 Sep 2016
The hard life of rock star Jimmy Barnes – Scottish child migrant, broken home, alcoholic genetic inheritance – is well known now, but first came to light in the first volume of his autobiography, which Barnesy spoke about here. He also made clear his feelings on homelessness: Australia is a rich enough country that surely it can solve the problem – especially if it’s rich enough to let people negative gear multiple investment properties.
Issue #534, 7 April 2017
Tattoos – seemingly everywhere now, but the harder you look, the more you find them in history. Ancient Greek spies used them to communicate; the Romans used them to brand slaves; the Maori used them to signify tribal affiliation, social standing and more. And cover girl Maud was rocking her tatts back in 1907.
Issue #537, 19 May 2017
Comic book characters have taken over Hollywood, none bigger than Wonder Woman. But who knew that she was created by Harvard-educated psychologist Dr William Moulton Marston, who happily admitted that she was “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world”. Well, Big Issue readers knew that after reading Ed#537.
Issue #560, 20 Apr 2018
Tackling the big issues all the time is hard work – doing a deep dive on the mullet is even harder, but that was the task we set ourselves in this hair-raising edition, which canvassed the follicular frolics, the fuzzy fringes of Farnesy, Fabio and co. Fun mullet fact: it’s banned in Iran. (What isn’t?)
Issue #570, 7 Sep 2018
Love, love, love – hard not to hear that Beatles song, isn’t it? Love is what makes the world go round, but it’s a topic not often tackled in the media. We looked at it from all angles – the special love of grandparents, what our parents can teach us about love, the love of justice, of our pets – and the marriage of Big Issue vendors Greg and Kelly.
Issue #595, 6 Sep 2019
Trees – it’s pretty well known that tress suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and give us oxygen in return (hey, good deal, thanks guys), but they do so much more. They can smell; the communicate with each other; they have a social welfare system, looking after weaker trees; and a neighbourhood watch system, warning each other of danger.
Issue #616, 17 Jul 2020
Banjo players rarely get on the cover of anything, nor do frogs – so Kermit was kicking goals when he got the band back together for Muppets Now. After all these years, Kermit maintains that being green “still means spending each day the colour of leaves”.
Issue #625, 27 Nov 2020
The Big Issue shares plenty of heart-warming stories about our vendors, and one of the biggest is the story of Street Cat Bob – now the star of numerous books and two movies – and his adoptee owner, one-time London vendor James Bowen. It’s a tail (geddit?!) of friendship, community and recovery.